Although I haven’t been following it too closely I was sad to see winter ball wrap up for one of my favorite Reds prospects. Henry Rodriguez, born in Maracay, Venezuela, is a 21 year old switch hitting infielder in the Reds system, ranked in the top 10 or 15 Reds prospects by many. His 2011 season, batting .320/.372/.469 between A+/AA was impressive, but he’s still a ways away and needs to work on his 2B defense.
This winter, he played for the Aguilars del Zulia, who just ended their season. The Venezuelan winter league has an interesting system where the top 5 of 8 teams do a round robin playoff of 16 games per team in January, and the top two teams go onto play in the finals. Although Rodriguez’s Aguilars made it to the round robin, they finished fifth, and won’t be going to the finals. H-Rod finished with a line of .279/.333/.371, which isn’t very exciting, but it’s a small sample size in a winter league. Interestingly, though, he played 3B for most of the games I looked at, including this one, where he made an excellent defensive play. (Youtube, @ 2:40)
One last interesting bit is that apparently Henry Rodriguez has an awesome nickname among his Venezuelan fans. “El Pollito. (You can see it in the video caption, as well as on this facebook fan page) I have no idea why they nicknamed him the little chicken, but perhaps it has to do with how young he was when he signed with the Rays (17). In any case, I, for one, love it, and I hereafter refuse to call him anything else. Unless, you know, I find out that it’s actually horribly insulting/offensive. Even so, I might be tempted….
You can also watch an entire game of El Pollito’s if you get ESPN3 (I get it through my internet provider), because they have the 12/21/2011 Magellanes vs. Zulia game there. He plays 3B and also gets 2 hits in the game. (May be more interesting if you can understand Spanish…) Here’s the specific link, but I’m not sure it will work, if not, just go to the ESPN3 page and look under baseball.