2013 Dodgers player profile: Paco Rodriguez, the rapid riser

USA TODAY Sports

A brief look at the climb through the Dodgers' system by Paco Rodriguez, the left-handed relief pitcher who was the first player drafted in 2012 to make the major leagues.

Paco Rodriguez was the first player drafted in 2012 to make the major leagues. Will that rapid ascension through the Dodgers system translate into a spot on the opening day roster?

Rodriguez is one of a number of pitchers fighting for roughly two spots in the opening day bullpen, maybe three spots depending on how the Dodgers choose to utilize a potential extra roster spot, as they don't need a fifth starter until April 13. Rodriguez, like Shawn Tolleson and Javy Guerra, has options, which could mean getting sent down to the minors once camp ends. But even if he doesn't make the opening day roster, Rodriguez figures to pitch for the Dodgers at some point in 2013.

"He's got a chance to make this club, and he's got a chance to certainly pitch for us this season," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He's earned that in a very short period of time."

That short period of time began with the Dodgers drafting Rodriguez in the second round last June out of the University of Florida. After just six games with Class-A Great Lakes, Rodriguez made the jump to Double-A Chattanooga. He gave up two runs at both levels combined, with 32 strikeouts and just five unintentional walks in 19⅔ innings.

"After he got to Chattanooga, which was a handful of games into his pro career, we already started thinking about (calling him up to the big leagues), because the reports from our people said this kid might be able to come up right now," said Colletti. "And he did."

The Dodgers promoted Rodriguez to the big leagues on Sept. 5, a move that surprised even him.

"When I was with my buddies in Double-A, they kept telling me I might have a chance. But I just kept going through my routine and tried to perform and if I got the call, thank God, and if I didn't it would have been fine," Rodriguez said. "I didn't know what to think."

He did well in his short time with the Dodgers, allowing one run in 11 games and held lefties to a .143/.200/.143 (2-for-14) line against him. What were his strengths?

"The kid is fearless. He thinks he can get anybody out in any situation at any time," Colletti said. "In short snippets in three places, he did."

Rodriguez said he developed a two-seam fastball and a cutter that were his two biggest weapons last year. And he continues to make adjustments.

"I just keep the same routine that I had when I got up here. Looking at video of the lefties or righties that I could be facing in situations during the game," Rodriguez said. "They already have video of me so they know what I throw and how I've been approaching people. I've got to make adjustments to how I've been approaching people."

With a shot to make the team, Rodriguez said he isn't worried about his spring numbers, and that he can only control his approach and execution.

"I worry about day to day. I want to go out and perform. If I have a bad day one outing, the next one I want to fix everything that I didn't do right in the last one," Rodriguez said. "I don't pay attention much to numbers out of the bullpen; it's more of a daily basis. If you can compete at a high level and do your job on an every day basis, then you'll have the ability to be in the big leagues."

Trivia

Rodriguez wears uniform number 75. The only other player in Dodgers history to wear the number was Alan Mills, another relief pitcher who played for the Dodgers in 1999-2000.

Contract Status

Rodriguez has 29 days of service time, and three option years remaining. The earliest he would be eligible for salary arbitration is after the 2015 season, and the earliest he would be free agent is after 2018.

Stats

Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP
2012 (A - Great Lakes)
21 6 0.00 15.00 0.00 (0.13)
2012 (AA - Chattanooga)
21 13⅔ 3.95 14.49 1.32 1.52
2012 21 6⅔ 5.40 8.10 1.35 3.09
2013 Projections - Age 22 Season
Source IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP
ZiPS 26 4.15 9.69 3.12 3.21

2013 Outlook

Even if Rodriguez doesn't make the opening day roster, he will likely pitch for the Dodgers at some point in 2013. I think he strikes out 31 in 28⅔ innings, with a 3.45 ERA.

Be sure to guess how you think Rodriguez will perform for the Dodgers in 2013. Include ERA and whatever else you wish to guess.

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