Prospect Nation 2013: #14 RHP Julio Rodriguez – Phillies Nation

Prospect Nation 2013: #14 RHP Julio Rodriguez

In recent years, righty hurler Julio Rodriguez has quietly become one of the Phillies’ most promising prospects. Without the hype and buzz that has surrounded other well-regarded youngsters within the Phils’ organization, the Puerto Rican born hurler has proven himself worthy of being ranked among the team’s prospects with the greatest potential.

Selected in the 8th round of the 2008 amateur draft as a 17-year-old, Rodriguez made his professional debut that same year, throwing in seven games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. However, the 6-foot-4-inch 200-pounder struggled, as he posted a 12.19 ERA and a .383 batting average against.

He followed that up with a return to the GCL the following year.  Rodriguez added some strength and made some serious improvements, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.08 ERA and a .197 batting average against in 11 games (eight starts).

In 2010, as a 19-year-old, Rodriguez began the season in extended spring training, but joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws in May. He spent time with the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters as well that year, and finished with an overall record of 7-3 with a 1.89 ERA and a .175 batting average against in 20 outings (12 starts). As the season progressed, Rodriguez was a key contributor, helping Lakewood lock down their second consecutive South Atlantic League championship that year.

As a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2011, Rodriguez was named a Florida State League All-Star, as he had a stellar campaign. In 27 starts, Rodriguez finished with a league leading 16 wins, a 2.76 ERA that was second best in the FSL and a .186 batting average against.

This past year in the Double-A Eastern League, Rodriguez had a strong start to his season, going 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA through 10 starts, en route to becoming an EL All-Star.  He also represented the Phillies in last year’s MLB All-Star Futures Game. But following an eight game stretch that began at the start of July, during which Rodriguez tallied a 6.81 ERA, he was moved to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.  The 6-foot-4-inch 230-pounder wrapped up his 2012 regular season campaign with a 7-7 record, a 4.23 ERA and a .243 batting average against.

This off-season, Rodriguez pitched with Carolina in the Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico) League.  In 10 outings (three starts), he sported a 3-1 record with a 3.67 ERA.  If not for one very bad outing in which he allowed five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, Rodriguez’s ERA would have been a much improved 2.19 for Carolina.

Rodriguez doesn’t sport one of the best fastballs is the Phils’ system.  In fact, his fastball velocity resides in the high-80’s and perhaps clocks at 90 MPH on a good day, but the 22-year-old has steadily recorded impressive strikeout totals in the minors.  Averaging 10.16 strikeouts per 9 innings over the past three seasons, it is his excellent secondary pitches and his ability to keep the ball hidden from opposing batters with his wind up that helps Rodriguez mow down the competition. His repertoire includes a fastball with some natural cut, a strong curveball that dives away from righty batters and a solid change up that has shown development as he has progressed upward in the minors.

Rodriguez, a fierce competitor that expects to win when he’s on the mound, was ranked higher on this list last year.  A difficult second half last year and some uncertainty about his role going forward forced that dip, but expect Julio to be among the next wave of pitchers to become options to fill voids at the big league level from the Phils’ developmental ranks.



  1. DCmikey

    February 11, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Good article.

    I read something about Pap taking something??

    Can anyone verify? Was it when he was with the Sox? Any verification that anyone knows of or just rumors?

  2. DCmikey

    February 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Schnek!!! Thank you man!! I knew you would come through.

    Ahhhh, LEGAL!! Am I wrong just to assume illegal. Not nowadays, no way. Ha ha.

    Thanks again for the info and article Scnek

  3. JMills

    February 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Jay, I think your a little high on JRod. The scouts all thought he would be exposed at some level and it looked like it happened last season.

  4. Jay Floyd

    February 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

    @JMills Again…a bad 8 game stretch for him after he dominated for 10 games in AA. Not sure that’s exposed. He will have success going forward.

  5. NT90

    February 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    A righty with a high 80s fastball and marginal secondary pitches that lacks plus command will not have success in the major leagues. His upside is as a middle relief pitcher and it would be a huge reach to say he could stick as even a #5 starter in the big leagues. Having him at #14 is a joke and an insult to the phillies farm system.

    • Jay Floyd

      February 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      @NT90 Was it a GOOD joke, at least? Since you feel I’ve insulted the Phillies minor league system, please let us all know how many other Phils prospects you would rank higher than Julio, when you’ve seen them play and what they’ve done during those games to deserve that #14 ranking?

      Also, please tell me how many times have you seen Julio pitch and exhibit this “lack of command” and “marginal secondary pitches”?

      Here are my answers to those inquiries…zero and zero. And please keep in mind that there probably is not a writer that sees Phils minor leaguers as much as I do. Rodriguez has very good command and his non-fastball offerings are better than most.

      If you partially read this post and presumed he’s not a prospect because he doesn’t exceed 90 MPH, it’s okay to admit it.

  6. NT90

    February 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    First I’d like to apologize for offending you, after rereading my post I’m aware I could have been politer.
    That being said there are likely at least 30 players I would put ahead of Julio because I value upside and I quite frankly don’t think he has much. I’ve seen him pitch about zero times other than some video but I have read numerous scouting reports and analyzed his stats. If you are not familiar with scouting terms, describing his command as, “lacking plus command” is completely different than how you quoted me as saying “lacking command”. Grading command and other skills in baseball, scouts and sabermeticians use terms like average, above average, plus, and plus plus. Plus would be the equivalent to being almost elite. My statement was stating that without almost elite level command, a right handed pitcher that tops out in the upper 80s has very limited upside as a future major leaguer. With a career 3.9 bb/9, he clearly does not have plus command or control. Infact his bb/9 jumped to over 5 in AA because as many professional scouts projected, advanced hitters would lay off of his slow loopy curve ball. This also is evident by his k/9 decreasing for the third consecutive year.

    You are entitled to your opinion but mine is that Julios upside is not deserving of the #14 spot in our system. I’ve been following him since he broke out in lakewood 3 years ago so no, I didn’t base my previous post on partially reading yours.

    • Jay Floyd

      February 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      I certainly understand your opinion better after that latest reply. Grading terms are certainly familiar to me. We can disagree, but if you think that Julio’s ceiling is as a middle inning ‘pen guy, that’s going to be a better career than a good portion of nearly every top 25 list’s players.

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