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RHP Osiel Rodriguez (John Brophy/Pinstriped Prospects)


[Interview]: Single-A Tampa RHP Osiel Rodriguez

Osiel Rodriguez was signed by the Yankees in 2018, and until recently, has been limited to the rookie leagues for any significant amount of time. He was recently promoted to Single-A Tampa, and he has a 1.57 ERA in 27 innings pitched so far this season.

Note: This interview has been translated from Spanish, and may read a little clunky or unnatural.

Before the recording started, we were talking about his pitches and he said how his fastball moved like a sinker, so that’s where we started.


Osiel Rodriguez: About my fastball, is it about if it is normal for it to move like this or is it that I throw a two-seam?

John Brophy: That’s what he was asking. He says: “Is he throwing a sinker or is it that the fastball that has a little more movement at the last minute?”

OR: I throw a four-seamer. What happens is that it has the motion of a change-up, you see? To do it like this, I throw it crossed. I don’t use… I’m not going to say. I am going to say that I use my normal four-seamer, and the ball sinks on its own. It does this on me (he makes a movement to move up) and it goes up. Understand? Because I… you had that people take, for example, they have the seam like that and they hold it like this.

OR: For example, the seam is like this, right? And they take it here (shows a normal four-seam position). I don’t, I take it like this, crossed. The four-seamer I use like this, does this (makes movement to move to the left) okay. Because I have to have… I think that when I throw the fastball like this, my change-up is more effective because my change-up has a lot of movement, like this. Understand? And now for the fastball to move like this, then the change-up moves like this and down, they don’t have a chance.

JB: Do you have another pitch? You have a fastball, a change-up and what else?

OR: Slider.

JB: And what’s your slider speed?

OR: No, the slider is good this year.

JB: But at what speed?

OR: 84, 85

JB: Well, explain to me how your baseball career began in Cuba, or in the Dominican Republic.

OR: I started when I was six years old (in Cuba) and that’s when a neighbor discovered me. A neighbor of mine told me “Ah, but you like baseball?” He saw me and began to bring me to the fields. And from there, since I was six years old, is where all started until today. I still like it to this day.

JB: You’ve always been a pitcher?

OR: Yes, I used to be a hitter, but I was always a pitcher. I always liked being a pitcher.

JB: Was it better to be a pitcher than a hitter or to play in the field?

OR: Yes, I always liked pitching more. Yes, that was why I leaned more for that than as a hitter.

JB: When did you start pitching?

OR: Since I was… about 8 years old.

JB: You told me once about when you went to Japan for the U15 tournament. Explain to me how everything went.

OR: Yeah, it went super well for me. There I threw against Colombia the first day. I beat them, we won like 5-0, and then they hit me with a pitch, that’s why it was more than everything that I was afraid of the ball to hit. They hit me on the arm with a ball and I liked to pitch more than anything. And in the game against the United States, I had to almost pitch without preparation, because of the HBP. I couldn’t throw a lot because the arm was swollen.

But then when we went to the finals, I had to face the United States without a choice, because there was no (other available) pitcher and the pitcher whose turn it was in the starting rotation was me. And I told them, “Give me the ball, I’m going to throw,” just like that. And we won 11 to 2 against the Americans.

JB: And that was from the championship?

OR: Yes, we were champions. We were champions in Japan.

The glove of RHP Osiel Rodriguez (John Brophy/Pinstriped Prospects)

JB: Explain to me how it happened when you signed with the Yankees? Did you know the scout that signed you?

OR: When I was in the Dominican Republic, almost all the teams saw me. I did not know and I didn’t ask much about it. My thing was to do my job (as pitcher), and work and work harder every day. That is a negotiation that other people did. They didn’t want to come with me, but yes, I saw a lot of people and I met the Yankee scout, Edgar Mateo.

In the scouting area, the Yankees were excellent people. Just as I also met many scouts from Houston, from some teams that liked what I offered.

JB: What year was it when you left Cuba?

OR: 2016? 2017? 17.

JB: And you can’t go back, right?

OR: Yes, I can go. I am waiting for my residency. I already applied for my residency. Now I’m waiting to be able to go, whenever I want.

JB: Then you went to the Dominican. What’s it called… the “DSL”, the Dominican league with the Yankees, and that was only one year, right, that you were there?

OR: Yes, I was in the Dominican Republic when I signed with the Yankees in 2019. It was not a good year for me. Because I was totally screwed. I injured my arm. But I didn’t feel anything.

I didn’t feel any pain in my arm. I just threw and threw, but my speed was… I threw when I signed, I threw 98, 97, 96 with 15 (inches of break). And when they signed me like in December, I will never forget. The league started in… I don’t know, June, July, something like that, and I started and was only throwing 86, 87, 88. I didn’t even get to 90. And I didn’t feel any pain in my arm.

But when I got checked up, I had a muscle tear. They stopped me for a month, I recovered a little, I came back and it was 88, 89. I still didn’t reach 90. Thank God COVID did me some good.

JB: That has happened to many. And now you’re throwing like 95… around there, right?

OR: Sometimes. It’s how it was before what it was for me: 94, 95, 96, 93, but my speed more than anything is 93, 95.

I feel like I’m not… like I’m not doing so much… I look at myself, I look at the videos. I know I can throw a little harder, but I don’t know. It all depends on my mechanics. My mechanics are not very good.

JB: It’s better, for me, that pitchers don’t throw so hard to keep the arm healthy.

OR: To keep my arm healthy. Yes, I prefer the same.

I was here at the complex here in Himes (last season). And then I came up here (to Single-A Tampa), but I was sent down again.

A tendon bothered me a bit… you know… the tendon in my arm. Because we finished the championship where we were FCL champions and after that they (the Yankees) remained undecided for two weeks, if they would promote me or not. And there were players there who were almost out of the game, you know.

And they promoted me that last week. Here (with the Tarpons), I pitched on a Sunday as a reliever. You know that I am not a starter, but they told me that I had to start on Tuesday. So I had to pitch (in relief) on Sunday and was going to start on Tuesday in Daytona. So I pitched, threw a poorly thrown slider, and I felt uncomfortable in my arm and that’s where they demoted me in the last week of the season.

JB: But now you feel good?

OR: Yes, yes. This year I feel healthy, and I feel much better.

Written By

Originally a native of Southern Connecticut, John has lived in the Tampa area since 2010 and has been a Tarpons fan since 2012. John is excited to bring you along as the Baby Bombers work their way up to The Bronx.

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