Showcase | Story | 1/29/2020

21' Rodriguez Announces Himself

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Victor Rodriguez (Perfect Game)

It has been a whirlwind winter for Victor Rodriguez, who moved to Winter Springs, Fla. recently from the Dominican Republic to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball.

Rodriguez, a 2021 prospect, looks the part, standing at around 6-foot-4 and filled out for his height. His swing looks the part of a high-level prospect, too.

The kicker is that Rodriguez is new to the circuit. He showed up at Perfect Game’s 2020 World Showcase in Fort Myers having never been in front of that number of scouts. When he stepped into the batter’s box and started his batting practice round, there were a lot of people checking the program to see who Gray 61 was.

There were a lot of, “Victor Rodriguez, do you know him? Who is that?” murmurs in the stands. It was an impressive round of BP, although Rodriguez himself was disappointed with it.

Perfect Game conducted an interview with Rodriguez after his performance through a translator, but all of the following quotes will be credited to Rodriguez.

“This weekend exceeded my expectations,” he said. “The fields are nice, it was fun. I didn’t have the batting practice that I wanted, but…I enjoyed everything this weekend.”

According to Rodriguez, a week before he came to the World Showcase he had a round of BP with the San Diego Padres, and he hit 11 of the 15 balls he was thrown out of the park. That’s what he came to Fort Myers expecting of himself, an other-worldly expectation but one Rodriguez believes he should always hold himself to.

He may have been disappointed with his round at the World Showcase, but scouts weren’t. He didn’t clear the fence with any ball during his round, but a number of seven-second fly balls showed enough of his power to sell everyone in Terry Park Stadium who watched.

"Rodriguez checks about all the boxes you want to see as a scout in a young outfielder," Perfect Game’s Vice President of Player Personnel David Rawnsley said. “He's really strong now but with that long 6-foot-4, 200-pound build he's still very projectable physically. His raw power is top of the scale and he already has a swing that naturally puts the ball in the air. His defensive tools are a prototype for a right fielder, with good overall speed and a beautiful rocket of an arm.

“In fact, I'd love to see him on the mound with that body and arm action, although I don't expect we're going to given his background and power potential."

His arm strength is just about as impressive as his bat, although outfield arm velocity doesn’t make scouts drool quite as much as a loud round of BP. Having said that, his 95-mph arm from right field checked all of the necessary boxes.

It’s an accurate arm, too, as he showed in one of the games to close out the showcase, gunning down a runner at the plate who tagged up on a fly ball to right field.

A 6.89 60-yard dash with his frame put a bow on an all-around performance, but his bat will always be the main event.

After his round of BP had people buzzing, a towering home run during his first game had people in attendance in a full frenzy. Rodriguez said he didn’t get all of the pitch. The eye – and ear – test would say he did.

“I wanted to make sure to show the people here that I can compete,” he said. “That I can play a little bit. I hope I showed that, and I hope I proved that I can play at the next level.”

Rodriguez is new to the United States. He’s learning English. He’s adjusting to new cultures. Baseball is his stabilizer right now, having left his family to come prove to people he is a professional player in the making.

He made the move with his family in mind, wanting to provide for them.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” Rodriguez said. “I do know I want to sign eventually and bring my family with me here. It’s my mother and four sisters in one bedroom [in the Dominican] and I want to help them.”

The Dominican prospect has enrolled at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla., the same school his idol, Francisco Lindor, was drafted out of in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Cleveland Indians.

Lindor is still active with his alma mater, something Rodriguez has seen and appreciated during his short time there. He sees himself following in Lindor’s footsteps and making a name for himself in the Big Leagues and passing on his success to the next wave of prospects.

“He is without a doubt the guy I look up to,” Rodriguez said of Lindor. “He graduated from Montverde. It’s not just who he is as a player, but who he is as a person, helping other players and the next generation out.”

Rodriguez sees Lindor and so many other Dominican players in the MLB and knows that’s his goal, and could be his future.

He has a plan in place as to how he’s going to achieve that goal, and it involves patience. The Atlanta Braves offered Rodriguez a contract when he was 16 years old, but he instead chose to move to the United States and get scouted here.

He knew Perfect Game’s World Showcase was the best place to get that exposure, and came away from the weekend happy with how he performed in front of PG scouts for the first time.

“I had a really good time,” he said. “I love playing baseball and this has been really fun for me. I did some research before I came and saw that this is the place to be because Perfect Game puts so many guys at the next level. Being here helps me reach my goal. That’s not just to be drafted, but to be one of the best in the Majors.”

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