The Baltimore Orioles have had one of the best bullpens in all of baseball over the past four seasons and a large reason for that has been the depth of quality relievers in their organization. I expect 2017 to be another good year for the O’s bullpen and one of those depth guys who you will likely see at some point is right-handed pitcher Richard Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, 26 (turns 27 in March), is a big right hander, 6’4” and 205 pounds, who has a tremendous track record of pitching well throughout his minor league career.
He was acquired by the Orioles in June of 2015 from the Houston Astros and has continued the success he showed in Houston with the O’s. Rodriguez made 48 appearances (two starts) this year with the AAA Norfolk Tides and went 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 81 2/3 innings pitched. In addition, he held opponents to a .216 batting average and struck out 81 batters.
Among all International League relievers, Rodriguez was tops for the fewest base-runners per nine innings pitched (9.54). He also ranked second in the IL among relievers with a .201 opponents’ batting average (46 games as a reliever) and fewest walks per nine innings (2.18).
Despite his overall terrific performance in 2016, and throughout his minor league career, one of the reasons I firmly believe we will see Rodriguez in Baltimore at some point in 2017 is his ability to get left-handed hitters out. In 2016 with Norfolk, Rodriguez was actually better against lefties than he was righties. He held left-handed hitters to a .208 batting average and a .589 OPS, while right handers hit .221 with a .614 OPS against him.
We have seen over recent years just how important it is to have quality relief arms in the minor league system, and Rodriguez certainly qualifies. Injuries happen, and to have someone like Rodriguez at the AAA level, who pitches extremely well and performs well against both right and left-handed hitters, is a valuable asset for the Orioles.
By: Josh Michael