2011 Top 25 Prospects

ProspectNation 2011: #17 Julio Rodriguez- RHP

Righty hurler Julio Rodriguez shot up the Phillies’ prospect rankings over the past year. Drafted in the 8th round of the 2008 amateur draft as a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez has developed both physically and as a player during his time in the Phillies’ system.

After an unsuccessful professional debut in 2008 with the Gulf Coast League Phillies (12.19 ERA in 7 games), Rodriguez returned to the GCL in 2009 and showed improvement along with some added muscle. In 11 games (8 starts) that season, Rodriguez posted a 1-2 record with a 3.08 ERA and a .197 batting average against.

As a 19-year-old, Rodriguez began the 2010 season in extended spring training, before making his Class A debut with Lakewood in late May, when he made a spot start in place of an injured Jonathan Pettibone. In his first BlueClaws appearance against the Hagerstown Suns, Rodriguez showed glimpses of things to come as he struck out the side in both the 2nd and 3rd innings before being relieved in the 4th. Despite lacking blazing speed on his fastball (J-Rod’s fastball regularly peeked in the low 90’s during the 2010 regular season), his strike out totals were extremely impressive.

Rodriguez capitalized on keeping opposing batters guessing with his solid off-speed pitches. He racked up 126 K’s in 96 1/3 innings at two levels in 2010. Rodriguez has a strong curveball that dives away from right-handed batters and a solid change up that will improve as he advances through the minors.

The 6’4″, 200 pound Rodriguez is versatile, as shown by his ability to perform strong in both relief and starting roles during time with Lakewood and short season Williamsport, where he spent roughly five weeks from mid June into late July, in 2010. Combined at both levels, Rodriguez posted an overall win-loss record of 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 20 games (12 starts).

Lakewood’s 2010 manager Mark Parent, who will manage Double A Reading in 2011, said of Rodriguez late last season, “He’s done nothing but impress us. In any role…long relief, starting, I’m very impressed with him.”

Rodriguez was named the Phillies minor league pitcher of the month in August, when he recorded a 1-1 record with a 1.17 ERA in 6 games (2 starts). That month, he struck out 38 opponents in 23 innings while holding batters to a .160 batting average. Julio also celebrated his 20th birthday in August.

After helping Lakewood win a second consecutive South Atlantic League championship, Rodriguez pitched for his native Puerto Rico in the Pan-American qualifying tournament and continued his excellent year by posting a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in 11 games for the Gigantes of the Puerto Rican Winter League.

From what I’ve heard, the Phillies prefer Rodriguez as a starting pitcher, which is why he was moved out of the bullpen to join Lakewood’s rotation as they pushed toward their postseason.

Due to his age and the quantity of other starting pitchers that are likely to be assigned to High-A Level Clearwater this coming season, Rodriguez could return to Lakewood in 2011, but is certainly considered a rising star within the Phillies organization.


Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league writer. You can read more from Jay by checking out his site, PhoulBallz.com.

Click to comment


  1. tavian

    January 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Can’t have enough pitchers. As this kid develops and matures, his fastball will likely improve, as well as his other stuff. Looks like a hard worker and solid prospect.

  2. Jay Floyd

    January 20, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    He’s a guy that enjoys being at the ballpark too. Nice kid…easy to root for. Looking forward to watching him progress.

  3. Lefty

    January 21, 2011 at 5:36 am

    You’ve noted the last two guys, Rodriguez and Schwimer lack the blazing velocity, but state both throw low 90’s. Is there any chance they can bump that up a few mph with muscle work? Or are they both just what they are? The legend is that Steve Carlton used to go through the grueling exercise of pushing his arm through a barrel of rice. Now that’s pushing against some serious resistance, think about it.

    Also, when we get to the top ten or five do we have a any fireballers with mid to high 90’s capability?

  4. bfo_33

    January 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Those 97 mph fireballers definitely give the oohs and ahhs, but I’ll take a guy who has a good differential between the fastball and change-up, can mask the pitches – especially as a starter. Think about the top starters in the game right now – only CC, Johnson, and Jimenez are pure power pitchers. King Felix has a good fastball, but doesn’t live by it. While I wouldn’t call Grienke, Doc, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, Linecum, Cain,…, finesse pitchers, they aren’t living by blowing the ball by guys, they make batters look silly by keeping them off balance. Unlike Schwimer (25?), Rodriguez is still a kid, seems likely that he’ll add a few more lbs and mph in the next few years.

    • Lefty

      January 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      That’s true bfo, but couldn’t you also make the case that the higher your top speed is, the more difference you can create with your change? Look at what a few mph did for Cole last year. Also your comparisons were all starters, I was thinking more about Schwimer who seems on track to be a reliever. Jay has already stated below that doesn’t think he will add mph due to age so that answers my question. I’m just wondering if there is someone in the pipeline that could replace Madson in case we’re not able to keep him. Anyway, I guess we’ll find out about guys like Colvin and others as the countdown continues.

      • bfo_33

        January 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

        I guess I didn’t think about it that much, but your right. The opposite is also true – Santana lost 3 mph last year off his fastball, and his differential fell almost 3 mph. I remember being surprised that his change up stayed the same speed when his fastball fell – would have thought both would have had about the same drop.

        The other thing that is pretty impressive is we’re only on # 17, and we’ve already had a few guys who will be ready to help fairly soon. Must be another 10 or 11 pitchers in the final 16.

  5. The Original Chuck P

    January 21, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I’ve heard J-Rod has hit a little higher on the gun at times…

    Both Schwim and J-Rod are likeable guys… students of the games and their craft. I like J-Rod a lot and Schwim’s 6’8″ frame is certainly intriguing. J-Rod is the better prospect and this spot might be a little low but given the awful debut, I get it. I see progress, maturation and a 19 y/o kid that will rise quickly.

    By the way… my rant… four out of my last five comments did not make it to the applicable boards/posts… they show up in my activity but never made it up. Not a big deal at this point (no need to rectify) but I figured that I would let you guys know why I have been MIA.

    New posts up at baseball junkies – 2011 fantasy catcher rankings and all-time Giants team.

  6. Jay Floyd

    January 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Lefty, yes…I saw Brody Colvin, who was already a highly regarded prospect, add at least 3 MPH to his fastball this past year. He was up around 97 by season’s end in 2010. Colvin’s adjustments were mainly mechanical, so that he wasn’t throwing across his body so much. Credit Steve Shrenk for the help there.

    Julio could do something similar, but he may very well need more muscle in his lower half. Not sure if Schwimer could add speed, as he is older and has likely done the work or adjustments needed to try to make that happen.

    Original Chuck…Julio’s occasional higher MPH readings could be road outings where he was subject to more generous guns. I saw him pitch a half dozen times in Lakewood and didn’t see him get higher than 91 (maybe 92 once or twice). Lakewood’s gun is on point.

    • Lefty

      January 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks Jay, I read your Q and A with Brody Colvin. I guess we’ll see soon where he is on your list.

  7. The Original Chuck P

    January 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks, Jay.

  8. Don M

    January 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Nothing against the Original Chuck P … he just happened to say it last …

    i HATE these nicknames that just take the guys first letter in his first name.. and then a few letters of his last. . . it worked for A-Rod …. kiiiiiiiiinda worked for J-Roll (though I just call him “Rollins”)

    I will seriously hate life if our new batch of Phillies talent goes by the names J-Sing, S-Math, J-Cos, D-Bro, etc

    Players need real nicknames… I think we have the sportswriters to blame for that? BUT.. in their defense, they used to hang out with players on a more personal level and got to be around them all the time..

    But something like “Joltin Joe” … or the “Say Hey Kid”…. those nicknames are/were the shiznit

    • Lefty

      January 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      I use JRoll all the time, but I got it from the great Harry Kalas, who I assume heard it from the players on the plane trips and such. I agree with you, they could be more creative. In the old days songwriters used to sing the praises of baseball heros, in fact both of your examples were in songs. They just don’t do that anymore. My question is, did the songwriters coin the names or just use them?

      There are some good ones
      Utley- The Man
      Howard – The Big Piece
      Halladay- Doc
      The Flyin Hawaiian-that’s pretty creative.

  9. bfo_33

    January 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Chooch and the Flyin Hawaiian are about the only two creative nicknames in baseball over the last 10 years (may be regional names that we don’t hear). A-Roid is pretty good – shortens the name, and defines his character. Uncle Charlie fits. None are more disturbing than Man-Ram (sounds like something from a prison movie).

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