LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Edwin Rodriguez is in his second year as the manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm, his nineteenth in professional baseball, mostly with the Miami, then Florida Marlins, including 2011 when he managed the big club.
Rodriguez does have a brief history as a player with the Padres, being part of a trade in 1983 that sent him and Dennis Rasmussen from the New York Yankees to San Diego for right-hander John Montefusco. He mainly played for the Padres’ old Triple-A team the Las Vegas Stars with players like John Kruk and Benito Santiago.
We caught up with Edwin to talk about a few of the players he was working within 2018.
MadFriars: Hudson Potts was just promoted to Double-A San Antonio. What part of his game really impressed you here and what part would you like to see improve?
Edwin Rodriguez: I think his whole game was really impressive; both offensively and defensively. Defensively, he could make the backhanders, slow rollers and turning double-plays.
Offensively, you could see him getting better and better as the season went on. He was turning on the 95 to 97 mile-per-hour fastball and had power to the opposite field.
So right now it’s just a question of becoming more consistent?
Edwin Rodriguez: Yes and he’s only 19 which is really young for this level. He has been hitting around .280 for the whole season with power. He can use the whole field and hit the ball out of any park here. He is going to develop into a really good power hitter.
The good hitters learn how to hit first and then the power develops. Again, I also thought he was an excellent player defensively with a very good arm. Nearly all of his errors were in the first couple weeks, after that, nothing.
What part of Luis Torrens defensive game has improved behind the plate?
Edwin Rodriguez: I think calling games is his biggest improvement and handling the low pitches. Like everyone he still needs to work on all aspects of his game, but he has improved.
He was working with some of the best arms in the league here with [Chris] Paddack, [Adrian] Morejon and [Michel] Baez in addition to catching some of our bullpen arms that can throw nearly 100 miles per hour.
What about Edward Oliveres. I think he’s had a good year, but I thought he might be a little more after what I saw in Spring Training?
Edwin Rodriguez: His main goal is to just get stronger and then his abilities will take over his game. The ability is there on both sides of the ball.
Jorge Ona has been up and down. Any reason why?
Edwin Rodriguez: He’s been battling injuries. He was having problems at the beginning of the year with his back and then he started to hit really well, and then he got injured when he went after a fly ball in right field and the ball hit the pole and came back and hit his face.
So that set him behind a little too. He was out for about ten days but overall I like his swing and pitch recognition. He just needs to get healthy.
What did you think of Adrian Morejon this year?
Edwin Rodriguez: [laughs] He’s unreal. He’s around 95 to 97 with a knuckle-curve in addition to his other pitches. He can throw the knuckle-curve for a strike at any time in the count.
The knuckle-curve comes straight down? Also, I thought they took that away last year?
Edwin Rodriguez: It does and without the rotation.
With young pitchers, it’s a process. They want them to command one or two pitches first, then expand. The knuckle-curve was always good, but they wanted him to command the fastball and changeup first.
Michel Baez had a bad back to begin the year, but he got healthy. How has he been recently?
Edwin Rodriguez: He was hitting 98 without much effort. So yes, he is back. He is feeling more confident in letting the ball go.
How were his secondary pitches?
Edwin Rodriguez: He has a very good changeup. The big thing with him is just his size which makes it hard for him to be consistent, but all the pitches are there.
Other Padres’ Minor League League Managerial Interviews
Triple-A El Paso: Rod Barajas
Double-A San Antonio: Phillip Wellman
Low-A Fort Wayne: Anthony Contreras
Short-Season Tri-City: Mike McCoy