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Oh Yeah, That Guy!: Aderlin Rodriguez

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You might not remember Aderlin Rodriguez, but he had an excellent week back in 2010.

Aderlin Rodriguez
Aderlin Rodriguez
Gordon Donovan

August 09 to August 15 (2010): 11-27, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/1 SB

Born in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, Aderlin Rodriguez followed the path turned to by so many of his fellow countrymen, training with a buscone and hoping to be signed by a major league organization. Already displaying plenty of power in his big frame with the possibility to manifest even more with additional growth and swing mechanic optimization, the Mets liked what they saw and gave the 16-year-old a $600,000 signing bonus, the most they gave any one player during the 2008-2009 international signing period.

The organization was aggressive with their new signee, skipping him over the Dominican Summer League and directly sending him stateside to the Gulf Coast League to make his professional debut. In 18 games, he hit an impressive .290/.389/.387. He was even more impressive in 2010, when he played in Kingsport. In 61 games, he hit .312/.352/.556 with 13 home runs, leading to a ton of prospect helium; in addition to other national outlets ranking the Dominican infielder highly, Amazin’ Avenue ranked Rodriguez the Mets’ 6th top prospect for the 2011 season.

He ended the 2011 season with a brief look in Savannah and started the 2012 season there. Aderlin had a mixed season that year. On one hand, his .221/.265/.372 batting line in 131 games was subpar no matter what angle you wanted to look at it. On the other hand, he blasted 17 home runs- six of which were hit at home, at Historic Greyson Stadium- breaking Sean Ratliff’s record of 15 during the Mets-Sand Gnats era. His prospect status dropped somewhat, with Amazin’ Avenue ranking him 17 in our 2012 Mets top prospect list, but Aderlin remained one of the more exciting players in the system, and easily the one with the highest power potential. His weaknesses at the plate led to the Mets leaving Rodriguez in Savannah for the start of the 2012 season. To his credit, the infielder improved, hitting .274/.336/.497 with 16 home runs in 83 games. The Mets promoted him to St. Lucie for the remainder of the season, and in 42 games he hit .242/.288/.431 with 8 home runs, giving him a cumulative .263/.321/.476 line on the season with 24 homers in 125 games.

Ranked the 15th top prospect by Amazin’ Avenue going into the 2013 season, Aderlin remained in St. Lucie to begin the 2013 season. Now 21-years-old, Rodriguez needed a strong season to renew his now-wavering prospect credentials, but fate would not comply. His season ended in mid-June thanks to a contusion and sprain in his right wrist, and he would end the year hitting a substandard .260/.295/.427 with 9 home runs in 62 games.

He remained in St. Lucie for the 2014 and once again hit a substandard .242/.284/.366 with 6 home runs in 89 games, his season once again ending early, this time in late-July due to a sprained left wrist. He was finally promoted to Binghamton in 2015 and showed a glimmer of life in the few months he was there, hitting .253/.288/.461 with 10 home runs in 63 games. In mid-July, he was finally released by the Mets.

Aderlin was picked up by the Mariners and assigned to the Jacksonville Generals, their Double-A affiliate, for the rest of the season. He elected for minor league free agency that winter, signing with Baltimore Orioles. He would spend the next two seasons with them, re-signing during the 2017 off-season, playing for the Frederick Keys, their High-A affiliate, and the Bowie Baysox, their Double-A affiliate. During the 2018 off-season, he signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres and received an invitation to spring training. He did not make the major league ballclub and instead spent the entire 2019 season with the El Paso Chihuahuas, their Triple-A affiliate.

Now 28-year-old, Rodriguez signed with the Orix Buffaloes this past winter. Through 35 games, Aderlin is hitting .223/.282/.400 as the Buffaloes’ first baseman, though he was recently deactivated and sent to their ni-gun team after getting hit by a pitch.

Since day one, Aderlin’s power was his calling card. Even in his earlier days in the system, his listed height and weight of 6’3”, 210-pounds was probably selling him a little short and he might’ve been an inch or two taller and twenty to thirty pounds heavier. While weight is not necessarily a bad thing, Aderlin’s weight was more or less “bad weight”, concentrated in his lower half.

At the plate, he stood slightly open with a wide base, holding his hands high by his head. Plus power is difficult enough to come by in baseball, but Aderlin easily had that covered, perhaps straying into the coveted plus-plus category. Thanks to elite bat speed and his physical strength, the ball rocketed off of his bat with plenty of backspin when he made solid contact. When he swung, he did not get cheated, leading to long swings, but because of his bat speed, most swings-and-misses looked more like overswings that missed the ball rather than slow wiffs.

In order to utilize power, a player needs to be able to hit the ball, and Rodriguez possessed below-average pitch recognition. Earlier in his career, his pitch recognition was more advanced or on par with his peers, but as he went up the minor league ladder and began facing more advanced pitchers, he was unable to keep up. He was particularly vulnerable to breaking balls down in the zone and out of it, leading to plenty of swings and misses over balls.

Aderlin spent the majority of his career that third base but was probably better suited for first. Slow and stocky, he did not possess much quick-twitch muscle, leading to slow reactions at the hot corner and very little range. He had a strong arm, but that was about his only positive defensive attribute, and even that came with problems, as his throws were often erratic thanks to his slingy throwing motion, giving balls tail that first basemen had to deal with.