Jefry Rodriguez has come a long way in a short amount of time.
The starting pitcher has gotten off to a hot start with the Auburn Doubledays as he continues to refine his pitches.
With only a few years of experience after moving from the infield to the mound, Rodriguez has shown plenty of promise.
"He's so slender, his frame is so big and he's very young in the pitching department," said Doubledays pitching coach Tim Redding of the 20-year-old. "He's only been in it for a couple years, so having that kind of aptitude on the mound to able to locate the ball and do what he did last night for six innings, it just speaks volumes for the kind of character and ability and desire to learn he has."
Rodriguez is 1-0 in his first three starts in the New York-Penn League. Over 16 ⅓ innings, the 6-5, 185-pounder has struck out nine and allowed 16 hits, four walks and five earned runs.
In his last outing on Tuesday, Rodriguez spread out nine hits and two runs over six innings.
The right-hander recorded one strikeout on his 81st and final pitch, but set down 12 Mahoning Valley players with routine groundouts in the five previous frames.
(Photo © and courtesy Jeremy Houghtaling @CitizenHough)
"You talk about the ultimate way to scatter nine hits in six innings," Redding said Wednesday. "A lot of poise out there, a lot of maturity."
"I had control of the ball," Rodriguez said through a translator. "I didn't care about them getting hits off me, I just tried to pound the zone."
Rodriguez's fastball tops out at 96 mph, but averages around 93. Redding has worked on keeping the pitcher's mechanics the same every time, which will improve his location.
"My fastball has always been lively to the plate, so I always try to go for my fastball since it's my best pitch," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez's off-speed pitches remain a work in progress. His changeup can get into the 90s, which isn't a big enough speed change from his fastball to keep batters off-balance. In his last outing, Rodriguez's changeup was clocked as low as 83 mph.
"He's got the ability to get down there a little more, and I'd like to see him mid-80s with that on average," Redding said.
Rodriguez is also working on the command for his curveball.
"Right now I don't have that much control for the curveball, but I can throw the changeup better," said Rodriguez, a native of Haina, Dominican Republic. "I've been working on that."
Rodriguez grew up playing shortstop, but was moved to the mound when he was going through tryouts as an 18-year-old.
After signing with the Washington Nationals, Rodriguez went 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA in the Dominican Summer League in 2012. Over 43 innings, he struck out 35 and surrendered 28 hits, 33 walks and 14 earned runs.
Last season, Rodriguez was a part of the Gulf Coast League Nationals, who went 49-9 and swept their way to the league title. Rodriguez went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 12 starts. He struck out 43 and allowed 40 hits and 13 earned runs over 47 ⅔ innings.
"I feel really good because I was a part of an amazing team," Rodriguez said. "I had the privilege to pitch and just do whatever I had to do to help the team all the way to the end."
Rodriguez had a brief stint with the Hagerstown Suns (Single-A) at the beginning of this season. He went 0-2 in four starts, and gave up 27 hits and 13 earned runs over 17 innings.
"He has a lot more consistency than what I saw down in Florida in the Spring," Redding said. "He got moved up to Hagerstown for a couple outings there, so he was able to go to a higher level and see how that level dictates what a pitcher can and can't do."
With a taste of the next level and a few impressive New York-Penn League starts under his belt, Rodriguez is getting comfortable toeing the rubber.
"I feel good," he said. "I feel real confident on the mound."