Reliever Paco Rodriguez works against the Diamondbacks during a game in… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
PACO RODRIGUEZ, 21, relief pitcher
Final 2012 stats: 0-1, 1.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings
Contract status: Under Dodgers control.
The good: Let’s see, he’s left-handed, throws pretty hard and has surprising command. Surprising, because last spring he was pitching at the University of Florida.
But Rodriguez became the first player selected in last June’s amateur draft to be called up to the majors, and he was mostly an undisputed success. Despite spending only two months in the minors, he was called up in September and seemed anything but overwhelmed by being in a major-league clubhouse.
In his stops in the minors at Class-A Great Lakes and double-A Chattanooga, he averaged 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Appears to be as effective against right-handed hitters as he is against lefties.
The bad: Still green as a cucumber. Appeared in 11 September games, after only 21 games in the minors. So it’s not like we have a lot to go on. Things could yet take plenty of turns.
What’s next: He’ll likely start the season down in the minors, where he could clearly benefit from more experience, but figures to be up at some point. And it could even be on the club out of spring training if the Dodgers are unable to re-sign left-handed reliever Randy Choate.
The take: You have to wear shades. Taken in the second round of the draft, Rodriguez — who we learned very quickly likes to go by Paco and not Steven — it’s been remarkably smooth sailing thus far.
He never appeared intimidated, around the club or on the field. Young, hard-throwing, left-handed relievers with nice command are rarer than a speechless Tommy Lasorda.
If he stays anywhere near on track, it’s difficult to imagine he won’t be back with the team next season at some point. Someone to look at down the road as a potential closer.
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