Jonathan Rodriguez led the 2018 New Orleans Baby Cakes with 14 home runs.
This month, we’re finishing up our expansive series on every player to appear in the Miami Marlins organization in 2018. This is the 273rd of 286 stories.
Jonathan Rodriguez is a 6’2″, 205 lb. right-handed batting and throwing first baseman from San Juan, Puerto Rico, population 344,074. The U.S. territory’s capital city has produced 16 major leaguers, most notably Carlos Baerga, Bernie Williams, and longtime Florida Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell.
Rodriguez was born on August 21st, 1989, and played two seasons of junior college ball with the State College of Florida, in the SunCoast League. In 100 games for the Manatees, Rodriguez slashed a healthy .343/.401/.565 line, with 18 homers and 106 RBI. You can follow him on Twitter @jrodri29
When the 2009 MLB Amateur Entry Draft came around, Rodriguez was chosen in the 17th round, by the St. Louis Cardinals. Players taken with the 519th overall selection traditionally have a 14 percent chance of reaching the major leagues, or eight-of-54. Most notably amongst the “519 Club” are pitchers Mike MacDougal (1998, Baltimore Orioles, 3.8 career WAR) and Nate Snell (1975, Atlanta Braves, 1.9 WAR), as well as outfielder Chris Richard (1995, Cardinals, 1.8 WAR).
After signing with the Cardinals, Rodriguez split the remainder of 2009 between two rookie-level squads, playing in 54 games and hitting .309/.431/.436. In 2010, he joined the Batavia Muckdogs in the short-season-A New York-Penn League. Of course, the Muckdogs are currently part of the Miami Marlins organization, but at the time they were the affiliate of the Cardinals. In 69 games for them, Rodriguez hit .258/.337/.500, with a team-leading 12 homers and 40 RBI.
In 2011, Rodriguez was promoted to the full-season-A Quad Cities River Bandits in the Midwest League. He again led his team with homers, with 20 home runs, and also led them with 70 RBI in 118 games played. Rodriguez hit .251/.389/.472.
For the two seasons following, Rodriguez joined the high-A Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State League. He hit 24 homers with 100 RBI over 190 contests, hitting .273. In 2013, he stole 21 bases for the team, also leading the club with 18 round-trippers and 72 RBI.
In 2014, Rodriguez joined the double-A Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League for the better part of three seasons. He played in 319 games for them during that time, hitting 32 homers and collecting 152 RBI. He hit .267 during that span, drawing 152 walks and striking out 282 times. In 2016, he was called up to the triple-A level for the first time, and hit .259 in 39 games for the Memphis Redbirds in the Pacific Coast League. Rodriguez elected to pursue free agency after the season, and eventually signed with the Minnesota Twins. Here’s Rodriguez playing with Chattanooga in 2017, courtesy of MILB.COM’s You Tube page.
Rodriguez’ season in the Twins’ system was spent mostly at the double-A level with the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League. He collected 21 homers and 76 RBI in 119 games, hitting .309/.414/.525. His play earned a spot on the SL All-Star team. After the season, he again elected free agency. The Miami Marlins signed him to a deal on January 18th, 2018.
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Relegated to the triple-A level with the Miami Marlins, Rodriguez spent the entire campaign with the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League. He appeared in 97 contests and hit .248/.362/.444 with a team-best 14 homers and 45 RBI.
Defensively, Rodriguez put up a .988 fielding percentage at first base for the Cakes, making six errors in 491 overall chances. The Marlins never saw fit to give him a shot at the major league level, and for the third time in three seasons, Rodriguez would follow a decent season by electing free agency.
Check back here later for part 274 in the series, an article on Tyler Kinley.