6'3" 180 lbs DOB: 12/13/1987
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2009: Montgomery Biscuits
Acquired: April 2009 trade with Colorado Rockies(for Jason Hammel)
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Colorado Rockies, Aneury Rodriguez debuted as a 17-year old in 2005 and was in full-season ball at age 19, despite pedestrian stats. With Asheville in 2007, he posted very good strikeout and walk rates(9.5 and 2.8 per 9, respectively) but his ERA was 5.15 and his WHIP was 1.51. His hit, homerun, and walk rates all fell in 2008 in the Cal League, though his strikeouts also dropped. A 3.74 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in the Cal as a 20-year old is very nice, so when the Rays acquired him for Jason Hammel, they sent him to Montgomery.
Things did not start smoothly. He struggled with his control early in the season, leading to an ERA over 8.00 in April. His strikeouts picked up in May and his batting average against fell .100 points, but he still walked too many and his ERA for May was 5.46. He cut his walks in half from May to June, though still struggled to get outs. Things finally came together in July, when he struck out 25, walked 9, and posted an ERA of 2.08 in 35 innings. He continued his success into August, finishing the season strong(though he got hit hard in his lone September start).
He isn't as good as he was in July, just as he isn't as bad as he was in April, but his second half numbers were at least partially the result of luck. He allowed more flyballs in the second half(his GO/AO dropped from 0.73 to 0.56) but at the same time he allowed less homeruns(his HR/9 dropped from 1.58 to 0.31). For the season, his HR/9 was 1.1, a little bit above his career average of 0.9. Rodriguez is a flyball pitcher, though, so homeruns are an unfortunate part of his game.
His walk rate jumped nearly a walk and a half per 9 innings from last season, but most of the damage done to that stat was in the first two months of the season. More troubling is the drop in his strikeout rate, which has now fallen from 9.5 per 9 to 8.0 to 7.0 the past three seasons. He doesn't have great stuff, but it's good enough: A low-90s fastball with a slider and change-up, but the change-up lags behind the other two in terms of development. At a slender 6'3", Rodriguez could add a little bit to his fastball as he continues to develop.
Interestingly, the Rays left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft this off-season. He wasn't selected, which I suppose makes sense considering he still has some refining to do. Still, he seemed like a good candidate for a non-contending team to take and try out in the bullpen. Instead, he'll continue as a starter in the Rays' system, likely back at Montgomery in 2010 to try to replicate the second-half results from 2009. Given the depth of starting pitching and Rodriguez's lack of feel for his change-up, a move to the bullpen may be in his future, or he may be used as a piece in a trade(think Mitch Talbot, who, by the way, would have occupied this #15 ranking had he not been dealt). For the 2010 season, an uptick in the strikeout rate along with putting the control problems of early 2009 would be welcome signs.