When a 21-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez entered the 2014 season in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, Baseball America projected him as someone with a “No. 3 starter ceiling.”
If everything went perfectly in his development, he could be a mid-rotation pitcher.
Rodriguez had a good minor league season in ’14, when he got traded to the Red Sox for Andrew Miller in July, and arrived in Boston the following spring with a completely new set of projections.
“Among the Sox’s cluster of upper level starting prospects, Rodriguez is the one with clear top-of-the-rotation stuff,” Baseball America wrote. “Rodriguez sits at 92-94 mph but regularly touched 96 and 97 in his outings with the Red Sox. He complements that with a killer changeup … If his slider develops to at least average, his potential is immense. ‘That kid can be Johan Santana Part 2,’ one evaluator said. ‘If his breaking ball improves one tick, he’s going to be outstanding.’”
Projections on prospects change rapidly in baseball. This happens everywhere. But the over-hyping of prospects in Boston seems to be as aggressive as it is anywhere else. And as Rodriguez departed the Red Sox this week after signing a five-year, $77 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, it’s easy to wonder: why didn’t Rodriguez ever reach his perceived potential in Boston?
There are a few reasons that stand out, primarily his frequent knee injuries and consistent issues with pitch-tipping. The pitch-tipping seemed particularly…