Red Sox Prospect Eduardo Rodriguez Learned ‘A Lot’ From Johan Santana

Eduardo RodriguezEduardo Rodriguez missed five weeks with a knee sprain back in April and May. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Rodriguez was acquired by the Boston Red Sox from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Andrew Miller right before the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline. The 21-year-old dominated with Double-A Portland upon joining the Red Sox system, but one of his most memorable moments this season occurred while he still was a member of the Orioles organization.

Rodriguez, a left-hander from Venezuela, grew up idolizing Johan Santana. While rehabbing from his knee injury in Sarasota this season, Rodriguez had an opportunity to work alongside Santana, who at the time was participating in extended spring training after signing a minor league contract with the Orioles.

“When I was a kid, my father told me, ‘He’s the best in Venezuela. He’s the best player.’ I just looked at his career, how he did, how he pitched. That’s where I learned that I want to throw the changeup like his,” Rodriguez told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier earlier this month in Pawtucket. “When I got hurt and got called down to Florida, he was there. I tried to learn how he threw the changeup, how he used it in games. He taught me a lot. To be with my favorite player, play catch with him, stay with him, I think that’s the best thing that’s happened in my career this year.”

It would be unfair to say Rodriguez could be the next Santana. After all, Santana won two Cy Young Awards and finished in the top five in voting on three other occasions. But Rodriguez has tremendous potential, evidenced by his 1.41 ERA and 51 strikeouts-to-12 walks in 51 innings over eight starts — seven with Double-A Portland, one with Triple-A Pawtucket — following his midseason trade to the Red Sox.

“Plus arm speed, feel for three pitches. His velocity and the life out of his hand with his fastball, it’s explosive,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles told Speier of Rodriguez. “He’s got swing-and-miss capability. But what I love about him is the way he competes. He’s another one of these arms that you just go, ‘Whoa.’ He’s one of the top guys, just from the one look I saw. He looks like he’s one of our best guys.”

No one ever wants to get hurt. But when the end result is meeting your idol and ultimately benefiting from a change of scenery, it’s hard to complain too much about the road traveled.

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Photo via Twitter/@SoxNH

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