You won’t find Manuel Rodriguez’s name on a ‘top 30’ prospect list. You won’t find many fans who know or have heard the name, despite a seven-year career within the organization. Of course, that is not to fault Chicago Cubs fans, but instead, engage their fandom to the bright future ahead for this club.
Rodríguez has shifted into a “long-term” project of sorts, moving in varying degrees while actively climbing the ladder to the next level up – whatever that looks like. The now-24-year-old has been the definition of a roller coaster.
After signing a $400,000 bonus out of the Mexico League, Rodríguez posted a formidable 3.52 ERA along with a 2.43 FIP and 2.54 xFIP, respectively. It came at former Low-A Eugene across 23 innings. Rodríguez notched a 34 percent strikeout rate and a 6.2 percent walk rate, additionally. Things started wonderfully for both sides.
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The right-hander then moved to South Bend, formerly Class-A, and struggled over tiny sample size. He then started the 2018 season back in South Bend, posting a disastrous 7.59 ERA over 32 games. After that, however, a gear shifted heading into 2019, as Rodríguez returned with a vengeance as his year began at previously High-A Myrtle Beach.
Rodríguez finished his 47 inning stint with a 3.45 ERA and a 2.04 FIP and 2.39 xFIP, respectively. One improved area of his game was the increased 54.5 percent ground ball rate — a career-high at the time.
Chicago Cubs Minors: Manuel Rodríguez is showing his grit
Like his cohorts, Rodríguez missed an entire season due to the pandemic, and yet his response this season has been exceptional. The 24-year-old has posted a 1.76 ERA in 15 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Additionally, Rodríguez has 21 punchouts in 15 1/3 innings between the two levels, notching 19 of those in the 13 1/3 innings in Tennessee and a pair since arriving in Iowa. In his tenure with the Smokies at Double-A, Rodríguez flashed a borderline strong strikeout potential as he compiled a 29.2 percent CSW rate. However, in his two innings in Iowa, he’s thus far notched a 32.2 percent CSW rate.
CSW is the metric derived from PitcherList founder Nick Pollack, founded following the 2018 season. You can read all about it here, courtesy of Alex Fast — fascinating information and a solid determination for a pitcher’s ability to strike hitters out.
Rodríguez has seen some growing pains, however, overall, his explosion so far in 2021 has been no short of spectacular, and it has been rewarded through his selection to the All-Star Futures Game next week. Cubs fans will want to check out the game on July 11 as outfielder, and the top three prospect Brennen Davis will also participate.
Baseball in Chicago right now is not fun. Nobody likes a ten-game losing streak. Rodríguez is another arm, however, who is poised to rise and will hopefully help the Cubs out sooner rather than later.
So, instead of holding any expectation for what the future holds, let us make sure to enjoy what the young Cubs are doing in their respective leagues. Things are bound to get a little brighter soon.