The Backstop for Sioux Falls’s 2010 Powerhouse Now Bidding for Job With San Diego
Back on the diamond, one of the fascinating stories still developing is that of Eddy Rodriguez, who only two summers ago was the catcher on the powerhouse American Association team in Sioux Falls, SD. Still only 26, the former University of Miami (FL) product is one of seven catchers in the San Diego Padres’ major league camp.
“I’m pretty confident in what I bring to the table, but you never know,” said Rodriguez. “All you can do is show up and work hard.” The 6-foot Rodriguez spent four seasons in the Cincinnati farm system, then played for El Paso, TX (American Association) before landing in Sioux Falls to anchor the catching for the record-setting 63-win season.
Known largely for his defense, Rodriguez is continuing to prove he also has some offensive skills, hitting 13 home runs and driving in 55 runs in 80 games at Sioux Falls and delivering another 10 round-trippers while covering all three classifications in his first season in the Padres’ system. “I’m a lot more confident after a couple of mechanical changes, and I have a better mental plan at the plate,” he said prior to spring training.
“An invitation to big-league camp is not something that is given out lightly, so we’re very excited about him having the opportunity,” praised Sioux Falls Manager Steve Shirley. One can only imagine the pride that showed up in the Pheasants’ office when the newspaper arrived Wednesday to show that Eddy Rodriguez, despite an 0-for-1 day, had gotten into his initial spring training game for a couple of innings, a 7-4 loss to Kansas City.
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Schlichting, De La Rosa Make Progress
Righthanders Dane De La Rosa and Travis Schlichting have gotten a small taste of the major leagues in recent years, enough to know the rewards and the challenges. Both seem to have gotten off to a good start in the exhibition season, De La Rosa still with Tampa Bay, where he is on the 40-man roster, and Schlichting, now a non-roster invitee with Oakland. He had gotten into 16 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-0, 3.55) in 2009-10.
Schlichting spent all of 2007 with Kansas City, KS before the T-Bones moved from the Northern League to the American Association while De La Rosa was almost exclusively in the Independent ranks from 2005-09, playing in the Golden League (Yuma, AZ, Long Beach and Orange County in California and Victoria, BC), American Association (El Paso, TX) and Atlantic League (Southern Maryland).
“I didn’t realize he had that kind of repertoire,” Oakland Manager Bob Melvin told The Associated Press after watching Schlichting give up an eighth inning run, then come back for a scoreless ninth and a victory. “He’s got a really good changeup to go along with a sinker and slider.”
De La Rosa, who got into seven games with the Rays last season (0-0, 9.82) and was 6-5, 3.20 with six saves in 52 appearances in Triple-A, struck out the side (one hit) against Minnesota then came back with another scoreless inning (one hit, one walk, one strikeout) three days later against the Yankees.
(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball. Fans may subscribe for 2012 at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)