Interview with Double-A Springfield Cardinals first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez

Mark Harrell (Springfield Cardinals)

If the slugging first baseman of the Springfield Cardinals can develop the consistency he is striving for, he could be quite the asset for the St. Louis Cardinals someday.

Consistency. For Springfield Cardinals first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez, consistency is the one major thing keeping him from reaching his maximum potential. Rodriguez has experienced prolonged periods where pitchers cannot seem to get him out, but he has found himself in extended slumps as well. His performance for Palm Beach last season merited nominations to the Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star team and the Post-Season All-Star team. After a scorching hot start to the 2014 season with Springfield, Rodriguez's bat hit a cold spell, but he has heated up over the last week and a half, allowing him to be named to the Texas League All-Star team. The game will be played on June 24th, and five Springfield Cardinals will represent the organization at the event.

Drafted back in 2009, Rodriguez has had a significant amount of experience in the organization—including playing for two teams that are no longer affiliated with the Cardinals (the Batavia Muckdogs and the Quad Cities River Bandits). At the age of 24, his "prospect status" may soon be running out, but with 64 home runs in 1,658 minor league at bats (one HR per 25.9 ABs), the right-handed hitting Rodriguez still has the potential to provide quite a value to the organization going forward.

Player Profile:

  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Weight: 205 pounds
  • Born: August 21, 1989 (Age 24)
  • College: State College of Florida Manatees
  • Acquired: 17th round (519th overall) of 2009 MLB Draft

Minor League Career Statistics:

Year

Level

Team

G

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

2009

Rk

GCL

30

117

.351

.462

.454

.916

.103

.439

178

2009

Rk

JC

24

80

.250

.363

.412

.775

.162

.373

136

2010

A-

Batavia

69

280

.258

.337

.500

.837

.242

.380

135

2011

A

QC

118

488

.251

.389

.472

.861

.221

.394

147

2012

A+

PB

64

248

.252

.327

.405

.732

.153

.339

109

2013

A+

PB

126

523

.284

.373

.481

.854

.198

.391

145

2014

AA

SGF

48

201

.253

.328

.438

.766

.185

.344

118

Interview:

Viva El Birdos: Which is the catchier song, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" or "The Macarena"?

Jonathan Rodriguez: Who Let the Dogs Out.

VEB: What are your thoughts on the name of our site?

JR: It’s actually pretty cool. "Viva" is a Spanish word, so viva los birds! (Cardinals)

VEB: What is your favorite flavor of Big League Chew?

JR: Grape! I absolutely love Big League Chew.

VEB: What is your favorite part about being a professional ballplayer?

JR: My favorite is that you get to travel all over the place and see the different cultures of the United States, especially for me coming from the Caribbean!

VEB: What has been your favorite ballpark to play in so far in the minors?

JR: Fort Wayne! It’s a great baseball field with a great background and awesome player facilities!

VEB: What is the longest home run you have ever hit? Who was it against?

JR: I think it was in 2011 with Quad Cities against the Peoria Chiefs! It was a walk-off home run that went probably 470 to left-center.

VEB: What was your biggest focus coming into the season?

JR: To establish myself in this league and stay healthy so I can achieve better things.

VEB: Take us through your regular routine on game days:

JR: When I get to the field, I like to do my hitting routine. Then, if I have time to lift, I do it. Then we do our pregame practice. I always shower before the game and listen to a couple of songs to get mentally ready for the game.

VEB: Who are some players on the farm that may be flying under the radar a little bit right now?

JRJacob Wilson and Cody Stanley.

VEB: What skills stand between you being a major leaguer?

JR: A major leaguer is able to repeat the same swing or same delivery consistently. So I think a skill that stands between me and an MLB player is consistency.

VEB: Which coach in the Cardinals system has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

JRErik Pappas, our hitting coach here at Springfield, has been a great influence on me. He’s a guy that played the game at the highest level, and he is able to relate to with us when things get tough. He understands the process and the grind of the daily routine of a long season. My other biggest influence has been Johnny Rodriguez. He knows a lot about baseball, especially hitting. But the one thing that I learned from him was to "control the controllable." There are many things we cannot control in baseball, so we should not worry about those things.

VEB: Thirty-five games into the season, what grade would you give your performance so far?

JR: I would give myself a C- so far, largely because I’ve been inconsistent at the plate. In order to keep moving forward, I need to produce in a more consistent way. Once I do that, maybe I’ll grade myself higher. Lol!

VEB: Which current big leaguer do you talk to most? (Question was posed before Oscar’s demotion)

JR: I really don't talk that often with big leaguers, but the latest guy I did was Oscar Taveras. We have a good relationship. We played together in Quad Cities and lived together the whole year. We get along well and every now and then, I give him a call to see how he is doing.

VEB: When the 2014 season comes to a close, what would you have liked to have accomplished?

JR: I just want to be able to reflect back on it after the season and be able to say that I gave it my all and didn't hold anything back. I need to control want I can control.

Special thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to answer these questions for VEB. Despite it being quite late after last night's game, he took the time to fire up his computer and clarify a few of his answers for me. He did not have to do that, but he chose to do it anyway. I wish him the best as his career progresses.

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