Rodriguez's offseason routine helping him succeed at Double-A

May 24th, 2024

has always believed he has the tools to become a dominant player. That’s why he spent countless hours during the offseason perfecting his swing and working on reading the strike zone.

Well-rounded performances like the one MLB’s No. 32 prospect delivered in Double-A Wichita's 8-0 win over San Antonio on Thursday vindicate all the pains he took.

In the bottom of the first inning, Rodriguez smashed a two-run homer off the Padres' Robby Snelling, MLB’s top left-handed pitching prospect, to straightaway center field. He added an RBI single in the sixth off righty Raul Brito and finished with three hits, his eighth multihit game of the season.

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The Dominican Republic native, who signed with the Twins for $2.5 million in 2019, has compiled a slash line of .278/.468/.591 with a 1.059 OPS over 34 games this season. With seven home runs and 19 runs driven in, Rodriguez is on pace to have the best season of his career.

“I feel very different compared to last season,” he said in Spanish. “I focused on making sure to have an aggressive swing, but to be aware of the pitches I attack. That makes the Emmanuel of this year so different. It’s one thing to swing, it’s another to make contact.”

Rodriguez's philosophy has been evident in his improved performance. Last season, he struck out 134 times in 356 at-bats, although the left-handed hitter had a 20.2 percent walk rate over that span.

“I’m just feeling really good right now,” the Twins' No. 3 prospect said. “I just really want to focus on putting my team in a position to win, that’s really what I enjoy about baseball the most.”

Rodriguez has brought that confidence to the field as well. On Thursday, the 21-year-old tracked a ball hit by Cole Cummings to deep center field in the eighth. Rodriguez slid to catch the ball and bounced off the wall without injuring himself.

“I was anticipating that play,” he said. “I really lock in with the ball when it comes my way. That one just kept carrying, but I needed to finish the job. I came out with the ball in my glove, so it got done.”

Already in his fourth professional season, Rodriguez knows the grind comes with trials and tribulations. He suffered a knee injury in 2022 and an abdominal strain in 2023. He considers preparation crucial to his success and hopes that paves the way for a healthier season.

“It’s really important to have a great routine,” Rodriguez said. “But you have to be really disciplined. You can’t take shortcuts. You have to keep going. That’s going to help you get better but also remain healthy, both physically and mentally."