Randy Rodriguez, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: International Signing, July 2017
LAST LEVEL: Triple-A
VOLATILITY: Very High
GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #17 Overall, #2 Relief Pitcher
2022 Performance: Randy Rodriguez got added to the 40-man roster in the fall of 2021, and the Giants did the most unexpected thing with him: they made the career reliever a starter.
Rodriguez started the season as a starter at High-A Eugene, his first time making any starts since 2018, when he made two in the Dominican Summer League. Rodriguez started every game through June, a span of 13 games, and he put up a respectable 3.86 ERA with 57 strikeouts to 23 walks in 44.1 innings, averaging just over 3.1 innings per start. To start July, the Giants moved Rodriguez back to the bullpen, and Rodriguez was dominating in three appearances, striking out 14 and walking just one (and no hits allowed) in 6.1 innings.
That started Rodriguez’s rocket ride. Rodriguez made six relief appearances at Richmond, where he had a 6.30 ERA with 19 strikeouts to eight walks in 10.0 innings there. Rodriguez then got an end-of-season push up to Triple-A Sacramento for five games, where his control evaporated, and he walked 11 and struck out seven in 6.0 innings with a 10.50 ERA.
Reports indicated that Rodriguez struggled during the lockout, since he couldn’t workout with the team being on the 40-man roster. His velocity and his slider both took steps back, and may have been the reason he started the season as a starter, to work more innings.
Strengths and Weaknesses: At his best, his fastball sits in the mid-90s on low release point, and a mid-80’s slider that sweeps across the zone. Both were plus pitches in 2021, but had fallen back to start the season. While his slider especially looked better as the season went on, he’d lost enough ticks on his fastball and his mechanics were so out of whack. He pairs it with an upper-80s changeup, which has always been subpar.
Of course, the biggest thing for Rodriguez is his control. The further up he went, Rodriguez’s control issues got worse, and he needs to reign it in. Part of his problems in 2022 may have come from the mechanics that might be connected to the lockout layoff. Whether or not it can be quickly addressed with a healthy offseason remains to be seen.
2023 Outlook: Although Rodriguez was rushed to Triple-A, it’s most likely he’ll return to Double-A, where he’ll work on his control against some polished hitters. His to-do list is clear, but hopefully much of the to-do list was done in the offseason.
Future Profile: Rodriguez’s fastball-slider combo is a classic power reliever profile, and his control is a classic power reliever problem. He doesn’t look quite like a closer, but at his best, he does have a late-inning profile. The control needs to improve for him to get there, and the Giants believe in him that he will get there.