One of the things I miss in the off-season is any sort of affiliated ball. I can flip on an Australian League game, but having only one Cubs player in the league mutes my education enthusiasm. Even in-season, I can enjoy a minor league game between two non-Cubs affiliates with a mindset of “who should the Cubs attempt to acquire in trade”? It won’t happen, but a man can dream. From June through August, I completely dig tracking box scores of the Dominican League Cubs.
These games feature players none of us have likely watched or listened to. Streaming is a null set, as of now. However, my belief is that the Cubs sign players that are worth tracking, regardless their level of play. Among the players from last year’s two squads is Benjamin Rodriguez, who is listed at 6-1, 165. Don’t be lulled to sleep by the height and weight. The next few minutes are about getting you to better know a pitcher who figures to be a starter for the Mesa Cubs from June through September.
Rodriguez spent some time in Mesa in December for strength camp, and will return in January for Instructional Ball. That will shift the time to working on skills development, and getting to know more of his teammates in the system through team building skills, like walks up the mountains.
This was a Twitter interview. As such, it remains more on point than some of mine do.
TH: At what age did you start playing baseball? Were you always a pitcher?
BR: I started playing at age six. I was a shortstop until I was 16.
TH: Were any other teams recruiting you?
TH: Who are the players in the Cubs system who are a part of your support network?
BR: It’s tough to limit it to just a few. However, Eduarniel Nunez, Junior Perez, Yovanny Cruz, and Brailyn Marquez are really good friends.
TH: Everyone wants to know about repertoire. What are the pitches that you throw?
BR: I throw a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a slider, a change, and a sinker. I’m not entirely sure why, but my sinker is faster than my fastball. My sinker has hit 96. My slider is my favorite pitch.
TH: Which of the Cubs coaches have helped you the most in your development?
BR: Jose Cueto really helped me. In my first year (2017) I struggled with throwing too many pitches out of the zone. He helped me quite a bit.
TH: What do you guys do after practice when you have a bit of time to yourselves?
BR: We spend a bunch of the time going to the mall, or bowling. We also like Top Golf in Arizona.
TH: Thanks, and have a great season in 2019.
Fangraphs recently uploaded some video of Rodriguez on YouTube.
Up next will be a series of interviews with announcers in the Cubs pipeline. If you choose the pipeline method, the Cubs fans are blessed with plenty of quality “tour guides.”