Twins' No. 3 prospect is just getting started

April 28th, 2024

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Yes, is still so young, but his first taste of the high Minors is already giving Twins fans plenty of reason to dream.

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey has long noted that players are at least “in the picture” once they cross the threshold into Double-A, and everything Rodriguez -- the organization’s No. 3 prospect and No. 39 overall by MLB Pipeline -- has done to this point with Wichita has been resounding cause for optimism.

The line says it all: four homers, six doubles, one triple and nine steals for a .294 average, a stunning .507 on-base percentage and a 1.193 OPS through 16 games in his Double-A debut. And though Rodriguez exited Wednesday’s game with an apparent injury on a stolen base attempt, it appears to only be a right hand contusion, with the sense that it might not send him to the IL.

“To be a couple weeks in and to be among the leading hitters in all of Minor League Baseball, that’s exciting about where he could be next and just keep building him in the right direction,” Falvey said. “He’s got a lot of confidence right now, which I think is good, because last year, the start of the year, the cold weather, he didn't feel that.”

Rodriguez is already on the 40-man roster, which represents a big hurdle in the push to the Majors, but the Twins understand that, at only 21, Rodriguez still has plenty of learning to do. They see him continuing to advance in his baserunning ability as the extremely advanced eye at the plate also perhaps helps him adapt to new levels more quickly.

“I think one thing that is really hard to teach is the ability to kind of know when to shut it down on a pitch, especially as the pitching gets better as they move up level to level,” Falvey said. “I think that he has shown the ability to do that.”

The strikeouts are still there, with 21 of them in 73 plate appearances -- and that’s going to be natural with someone like Rodriguez, whose ability to take close pitches will lead him to more frequent deep counts, with some swing-and-miss natural in his ability to drive the ball with his advanced power.

But with those 21 strikeouts come the 22 walks -- and with an emphasis on continued selective aggression, it looks like there’s more to come.

Triple-A St. Paul: Don’t sleep on DaShawn Keirsey Jr. as a depth outfield option at some point this season if the need were to arise. Coming off steady improvement in 2022 and ‘23, he got off to a delayed start this spring, missing big league camp due to injury, but is hitting .281 with an .888 OPS with six doubles, three triples, three homers and eight steals through 23 games.

High-A Cedar Rapids: Want a quick laugh? Go check out Zebby Matthews’ career strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Minors. (We’ll save you the work: It’s 137 strikeouts to 15 walks, surpassing even Bailey Ober’s rightfully touted ratio from his Minors days.) Matthews has 19 strikeouts without a walk in 15 2/3 innings this season, and his stuff has continued to play up in the mid-90s.

Single-A Fort Myers: The Rayne Doncon show continues in Southwest Florida. Acquired alongside Manny Margot in that February deal with the Dodgers, Doncon is showing great command of the strike zone while hitting .309 with an .890 OPS through 19 games.