Early Signing Period, Saints Ink Three-Time All-Star, First Baseman Devon Rodriguez
ST. PAUL, MN - Traditionally, St. Paul Saints manager George Tsamis waits until March or April before he signs new faces to the roster. However, when he's had his eye on someone for a few years and they become available, Tsamis pounces. That's what he did with three-time All-Star and left-hand hitting first baseman, Devon Rodriguez, becoming the first new player signed for 2019.
The 27-year-old Rodriguez spent the last two seasons with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. Last season he hit .288 with six home runs and 42 RBI in 113 games. In 437 at bats he scored 53 runs, smoked 26 doubles, one triple, a .322 on base percentage, .394 slugging percentage for a .715 OPS. Rodriguez closed the season extremely strong hitting safely in a career high 15-straight from August 30-September 13, which included two, four-hit games and two, three-hit games. He also doubled in three-straight, in a doubleheader on September 10 and then in the next game on September 11. It was the third time during the season he doubled in at least three straight, doing so on August 9-11 and doubling in four straight from May 11-14 with two doubles each on the 12th and 13th.
Rodriguez began his professional career in 2015 out of the University of California-Berkley with the Rockford Aviators of the Frontier League and was named to the Frontier League All-Star Game. He blistered the league with a .321 average, four home runs and 42 RBI in 93 games. In 371 at bats he scored 36 runs, smacked 22 doubles, a .359 on base percentage, and a .412 slugging percentage for a .772 OPS. He finished third in the league in hits (119), fifth in at bats and eighth in average. Rodriguez got off to a fast start in his professional career with a 13-game hitting streak that began just two weeks into the season and went from May 27-June 10. He followed that up with an 11-game hitting streak from June 26-July 8, which included six multi-hit games. He equaled his early season 13-game hitting streak with another one from August 12-26. In all, Rodriguez had 33 multi-hit games including two, four-hit games on July 18 and August 16. He hit his first professional grand slam on July 30 against the Windy City ThunderBolts.
Rodriguez showcased his talents in the American Association in 2016 with the Texas AirHogs, where Tsamis got his first look of the stellar first baseman. He didn't just turn the head of Tsamis, but the entire league when he was named to the American Association All-Star Game held at CHS Field. He hit .302 with six home runs and 49 RBI in 97 games. In 381 at bats he scored 38 runs, hammered 21 doubles, one triple, a .343 on base percentage, .409 slugging percentage for a .753 OPS. He destroyed the Saints in an early season match-up in Texas going 7-13 with a home run and seven RBI in three games. He had back-to-back three RBI games in the first two games of the series and his lone four-hit game of the season in the second game. Rodriguez had seven multi-hit games during a 10-game hitting streak from June 21-July 1. He doubled in three-straight from May 31-June 2 and had two doubles in a game twice. His career game came on July 30 at home against the Gary SouthShore RailCats where he smacked his only two homer game of his career and had a career high seven RBI.
Following the season Rodriguez was traded to the Laredo Lemurs in the American Association. However, prior to the season the Lemurs folded as an organization and he was signed by the Blue Crabs where he had a career year in 2017 and earned his third consecutive All-Star appearance. He hit a robust .364 with six home runs and a career high 50 RBI in 77 games. In 280 at bats he scored 37 runs, cracked 17 doubles, two triples, a .406 on base percentage, .504 slugging percentage for a career high .910 OPS. Just four games into the season Rodriguez hit safely in 13-straight, including six multi-hit games. He had a four-hit game during the streak on May 19, one of three on the season. On May 31 and June 1 he had seven hits in 10 at bats in the last two games of a three-game series at York. The hot hitting continued from June 13-23 when he hit safely in 11-straight, which included eight multi-hit games and four hits on June 19. He also doubled in four-straight from June 14-18.
A graduate of UC-Berkley, Rodriguez was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCAA Houston Regional as a sophomore. He helped earn Cal their first College World Series appearance in 19 years. They would win their first game over Texas A&M, but lose to the #1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers in the second round.
In his career, Rodriguez has struck out just 208 times in 1576 plate appearances, or just 13.2% of the time. According to Fan Graphs, a strikeout percentage of that rate is considered "great."
The Saints have signed two players this off-season.
INF Josh Allen
INF Devon Rodriguez
The Saints begin the 2019 season with a 10-game homestand. Opening Day is Thursday, May 16 at 7:05 p.m. against the newest member of the Milwaukee Milkmen.
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American Association Stories from December 10, 2018
- Early Signing Period, Saints Ink Three-Time All-Star, First Baseman Devon Rodriguez - St. Paul Saints
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