Just six days removed from playing in the College World Series, the professional phase of the baseball career of Jake Rodriguez began.
The 2010 Elk Grove High School graduate stepped onto the baseball diamond of the Tri-City Valley Cats last Thursday as a player in the New York-Penn League. Earlier in the month, while still a member of the Oregon State University baseball squad, Rodriguez was drafted in the 19th round by the Houston Astros.
|Jake Rodriguez, now in the Houston|
Astros' minor league organization
He was an infielder/catcher for the Beavers the past three seasons and was an All-Pac 12 selection this spring. Rodriguez decided to forego his final season in Corvailles to begin the oft-long trek to the Major Leagues.
In his first professional game Rodriguez struck out three times and walked once.
Hernandez Rehabs In Scottsdale
Another former Elk Grove baseball standout, Raymond Hernandez, is hoping that he’ll get an opportunity to throw a few innings in 2013. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ farmhand has shown some promise on the mound since being drafted out of Fresno State in the late rounds of the 2011 Draft.
Hernandez played in the Class-A Short Season ranks in Missoula, Mont., in 2011 and last summer had a decent season as a starter for the Visalia Rawhide in the California League.
“Other than being the most hitter-friendly league, it was great,” Hernandez said last week. “I had a lot of family in Visalia. I also had a chance to throw in Stockton and Modesto with family and friends able to watch. Pretty cool.”
But during the off-season, Hernandez noticed an issue with being able to pitch with any authority. He’s had some treatment on his shoulder and has spent the last few months at the D-back’s Spring Training facility in Scottsdale.
“It’s been a tough year and I don’t know my exact return (to pitching),” Hernandez said. “It will be at the end of the year, if anything.”
Raymond’s older brother, David, a late-inning setup man with the major league club, has had a bit of an up-and-down year to this point. He’s 4-5 with a 4.58 ERA.
On Saturday, the elder Hernandez suffered the loss in an 11-5 decision to the Braves. He came on in the eighth inning trying to protect a 5-4 lead then hit two batters with a pitch in consecutive at-bats.
Both of the hit-by-pitches came on breaking balls, and when Hernandez has struggled this year, it's been when he cannot command that pitch. That was the case Saturday.
"It's been pretty inconsistent overall in general this season," Hernandez told MLB.com. "It's frustrating. It's a game we should have won. When you can't throw a curveball over, and all you have to look for is a fastball, that makes it pretty easy to narrow it down."
Hernandez has made 34 appearances this year for Arizona, pitching 35 1/3 innings.
Locals In The Minors
Days after being signed out of Elk Grove High School, Dom Nunez is now a farmhand of the Colorado Rockies and playing in the Class-A Short Season Pioneer League. He’s a second baseman for the Grand Junction Rockies.
Nunez is off to a slow start, going just one-for-15 (.067) in his first six games as a pro.
He was a sixth-round selection of Colorado in the June draft.
Kyle Castro (Pleasant Grove H.S.) is playing for the Spokane Indians in the Class-A Northwest League. The right-handed pitcher has made three appearances out of the bullpen and has 13 strikeouts in eight innings.
Brady Dragmire (Bradshaw Christian H.S.), a farmhand in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization, is pitching for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League. He’s made six appearances thus far, including one start, and has earned one save.
Dylan Chavez (Pleasant Grove H.S./Univ.of Mississippi) is throwing this summer for the Boston Red Sox’ Class A franchise in the New York-Penn League, the Lowell Spinners. Chavez has pitched in three games thus far.
David Freitas (Elk Grove H.S./Cosumnes River Coll.) has spent most of this season with the A’s Double-A team in Midland, Tex. Freitas has a .226 average with eight home runs and 18 RBI’s in 48 games.
Williams Makes USA 12U Team
Kenny Williams, Jr., of Elk Grove has been selected to play for the USA Baseball’s Age 12-and-Under team this August in the Dominican Republic. His father, Kenny, Sr., was a football and baseball player at Elk Grove High School, graduating in 1990.
Williams, Jr., will play on a team coached by Jim Parque, a former Major Leaguer with the White Sox and the Rays. The USA squad will compete in the Latin America Baseball Classic in Santo Domingo Aug. 6-12.
Teams from Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Brazil and the Virgin Islands will also participate in the event.
Williams, Jr., is raising funds to pay his expenses to and from the tournament. To contribute, phone 916-690-0472 or 916-686-5354.