A Mexican Leaguer to Keep an Eye On
Looking at what’s been going on the Mexican League, at least in terms of who the league’s leaders are, I noticed a 22 year old catcher playing for the Toros de Tijuana (the Tijuana Bulls) named Arturo Rodriguez. Rodriguez is currently third in the league with a .371 batting average, and his 1.033 OPS is fifth best behind four well-over-30 foreign (to Mexico) veteran professionals of the type who usually dominate the Mexican League’s OPS leader board.
I know very little about his defense, although he has apparently thrown out 17 of 41 attempted base-stealers this season, a 41% rate, which is pretty good. However, he’s also played a lot of games at 1B and as a designated hitter this season, suggesting either that his defense isn’t great or the Toros are afraid he’ll get worn down or hurt playing catcher every day.
Rodriguez doesn’t walk much, and he’s listed as 6’0″ and 235 lbs and has yet to steal a base as a professional, so he’s probably pretty slow. He looks like a great plate-blocking catcher in an era when plate-blocking is much more restricted than it used to be.
Rodriguez can certainly hit, however, and he’s young, which are things you look for in any prospect. Mexican League teams hold onto their players and want top dollar to sell them off to MLB organizations. If the MLB scouts don’t think a young Mexican League player is worth as a prospect what his Mexican League teams wants to let him go, the player stays in Mexico, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, at least if you are a Mexican baseball fan.
Rodriguez played pretty well last season as a 21 year old rookie (.279 batting average, .775 OPS) but was limited to only 67 games played. MLB teams may want to see if he plays as well in 2015 as he has so far in 2014 before investing what is almost certain to be a seven figure amount to purchase his rights.