The Mets drafted Eastern Kentucky shortstop Richie Rodriguez with their ninth-round pick. I didn't get to see any Eastern Kentucky games this year, and little exists out there on him, but he's an interesting senior sign due to the addition of power to his game in 2012.
He's not terribly big at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, and his speed is only average, so he's gone under draft radars up to this point. Rodriguez has fluid actions, good hands, and an average arm, but he doesn't figure to have the range to make it as a shortstop as a pro, so the Mets drafted him as a second baseman. He should be a good defender there and may still be able to play shortstop in a pinch, making him a potential utility player.
He's more interesting at the plate. He's posted some fantastic batting averages (.302, .357, .357, .377), though those should be taken with a grain of salt: the Ohio Valley Conference isn't usually a baseball hotbed, and there are some nice places to hit. What stands out, however, are two things: First, after hitting eight homers over his first two seasons, he hit 14 in 2012. Second, he's been exceptionally difficult to strike out, and despite the power surge was more difficult to strike out than ever. He's always had a wonderful approach at the plate, and the increased power output only helped. I wish I knew why he suddenly started hitting for power this season. You expect seniors to dominate, but you don't expect their games to suddenly change, as Rodriguez's did. He may have added some strength or changed his swing, but whatever the reason I do appreciate that he was able to add the power without detracting from his trademark plate discipline.
He's someone to watch, and I think he could move quickly through the lower levels of the minors. He might have more difficulty at higher levels, where pitchers have good fastballs and command over them. I'll be especially interested to see what his power output is like, but, to be honest, I'm not expecting 2012 to be an indicator of future performance.