To some, the news of 22-year-old pitcher Chris Rodriguez making the Opening Day roster may come as a surprise.
Rodriguez, the organization’s No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, hasn’t seen a lot of action at the Minor League level.
The right-hander from Miami has thrown a total of 77 2/3 innings in the Minors since being drafted by the Angels in the 4th round in 2016. He also hasn’t pitched above Class A Advanced. He saw his last game action in 2019 for the Inland Empire 66ers.
But, after impressing the organization this spring, Rodriguez will be making his first Opening Day roster as a part of the Angels' revamped bullpen.
Rodriguez said the news of making the Opening Day roster was something he’ll remember forever.
“I couldn’t even tell you how the conversation went,” Rodriguez said. “Once [manager Joe Maddon] said I made the team, I completely blacked out. It was such a blessing, I went back and called my family and cried. It was a day I’m never going to forget.”
Rodriguez enjoyed a healthy spring. He pitched seven innings and struck out 10 batters. Despite having a 5.14 ERA this spring, Rodriguez demonstrated quality stuff in Cactus League play. His fastball touches the mid-90s and his arsenal features a tailing two-seam fastball.
Maddon said there is a lot of potential for Rodriguez to succeed at the Major League level, adding that the team will need to monitor Rodriguez’s usage.
“There’s a lot of confidence in [Rodriguez],” Maddon said. “It’s going to require attention. Not to the point to where it’s overbearing or annoying. It’s just that you got to pay attention to a young guy breaking in like this.”
In his Minor League career, Rodriguez has a 4.75 ERA in 24 appearances. He’s also struck out 86 batters over that span.
Maddon said Rodriguez meets the requirements to be an impact arm for the Angels bullpen.
“He checks all the boxes,” the Angels manager said. “The one he doesn’t is maybe the experience box and date of birth, but everything else is in order.”
Rodriguez said he’ll be ready no matter what capacity the Angels decide to use him in.
“I’m here to win ballgames, and if I have to come in in pressure spots in huge games, then I’m going to come in and do my job and I’m going to help the team win,” Rodriguez said.