These “exit interviews” will be going over the entire 40-man roster and looking to see how each player does or does not fit into the White Sox future.
The term “exit interview” is usually used when an employee is leaving the company. I took that into consideration…and kept it.
Santos Rodriguez – Flame-throwing lefty who happens to throw flames in all directions.
Age by 2014 Opening Day: 26
Contract: Hasn’t even touched his service time and has only used one of his minor league options.
Relevant stats: AA: 15 games (all relief), 23 IP, 2.35 ERA, 13 H, 1 HR, 25 K, 14 BB, 1.79 K/BB.
AAA: 18 games (all relief), 24.2 IP, 7.30 ERA, 21 H, 3 HR, 36 K, 27 BB, 1.33 K/BB.
Interpretation: These are a lot like what Leyson Septimo’s numbers used to look like.
Emblematic split: Batters from both side of the plate had a higher on-base percentage against Rodriguez than slugging percentage, and a .204/.364/.329 batting line against him overall. There’s no squaring him up, by anyone.
Pre-season expectations: A LOOGY who couldn’t throw strikes, Rodriguez had a hard time encouraging more than an acknowledging grunt from our staff.
“LHP Santos Rodriguez is throwing really hard and striking people out. And he’s kinda wild too. That’s right, he’s every White Sox relief prospect of the last 10 years.”
No one expected to see him in the majors and no one did, so it worked out.
Quote of the year: There may not be anyone on the 40-man roster who attracted less major league buzz this year than Rodriguez, so quotes were not flowing.
Santos’ story: The life of a minor league reliever can get weird. After pitching in at the end of the Knights’ 2012 playoff run, Rodriguez rode the bench at Triple-A Charlotte without a single appearance for nearly three weeks before management rectified the situation and sent him back down to Double-A to get work in.
Rodriguez’s heavy-as-lead mid-90’s fastball was too much for Double-A hitters to do anything with. He allowed just 13 hits in 23 innings, which was enough to cover up his rather terrible control. That was enough to make him a solid piece in the Birmingham Barons’ clinching a playoff spot in the first half, but the creaky balance of his skill set immediately blew apart in Triple-A.
Rodriguez was promoted in late-June alongside Daniel Webb in a straight swap of good relievers and struggling relievers, as Dan Remenowsky and Michael Nix were sent down to Double-A in their stead. Days where Rodriguez seemed qualified to throw baseballs at this level were few and far between. Just three of his 18 appearances went by without a walk, and Rodriguez was so consistently drenched in baserunners that even the return of his superlative strikeout numbers (29.8% Triple-A batters K’d against him) didn’t protect him from disastrous results.
Assessment: Rodriguez’s stuff actually plays pretty well against hitters on both sides of the plate. The LOOGY talk is a product of diminished expectations. The problems the 6’6″, 26 year-old left-hander has had repeating his mechanics are so consistent that it’s hard to keep faith a breakthrough is coming before he runs out of options, or becomes an unnecessary clog on the 40-man.
If the Sox are going eek out some major league value, it’s likely going to require them to put Rodriguez in situations where he possesses an extreme advantage, and is not asked to stay in the strike zone for more than short bursts. There aren’t a lot of slots open on a 25-man crew for that skill set.
Not seeing him ever is a distinct possibility. But Leyson Septimo made the bigs, why not this guy?
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan