Former Gator left-hander Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) was called up to the Major Leagues by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. He becomes the second player in head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure at Florida to reach professional baseball’s highest level after Nick Maronde (2009-11) was called up to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last week.
Chosen in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Dodgers at No. 82 overall in June, Rodriguez’s final collegiate appearance in his junior season came on June 16 in the opening round of the NCAA College World Series against South Carolina.
The southpaw had six scoreless outings for the Class A Great Lakes (Mich.) Loons in the Midwest League, with a pair of saves, 10 strikeouts and zero walks in six innings before being called up to the Double A Chattanooga (Tenn.) Lookouts of the Southern League. Over 15 appearances, Rodriguez was 1-0 with a 1.32 earned run average, totaled 22 strikeouts, permitted six walks and collected three saves in 13.2 innings. Opponents batted just .149 against him. In 21 minor league appearances spanning 19.2 innings, he had a 32-to-6 walk-to-strikeout ratio and a 0.92 ERA.
Tabbed a 2012 All-American by Perfect Game for the first time in his career, Rodriguez was a first-team All-SEC pick to become the first Gator reliever to earn All-SEC accolades since Kevin Chapman was recognized in 2010. The left-hander had a 3-2 record in 34 appearances and paced UF’s pitching corps with 81 strikeouts in 62 innings. He registered a 2.18 ERA, notched four saves and limited opponents to a .211 batting average. During league play, Rodriguez racked up 47 strikeouts and issued eight walks in 34.1 innings of work and preserved both of the wins at third-ranked Kentucky.
As a sophomore, he boasted a 4-2 mark with a 1.91 ERA in 32 appearances, including one start. Rodriguez tallied 44 strikeouts, allowed 12 walks in 37.2 innings, notched a pair of saves and was part of three shutouts. He was 1-0 in 11 SEC appearances spanning 11.1 innings, sported a 0.79 ERA and tied for the team lead with six appearances during the NCAA Tournament, when he was 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA and totaled 11 K in 8.1 innings. The Miami native participated in both games of the CWS Championship Finals against South Carolina (1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 K) and turned in a heroic effort in the winner’s bracket game versus Vanderbilt in Omaha. He took over on the mound in the fifth inning on Monday before the contest was halted because of weather issues, came back on Tuesday morning and went the rest of the way to pick up the win. Over a season-high 4.1 scoreless and hitless innings, the lefty registered a career-high seven strikeouts and permitted one walk. Impressively, he retired 13 of the 14 batters he faced, including the final eight in a row, and concluded the contest with back-to-back strikeouts.
Coming out of high school, Rodriguez had been picked in the 48th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. Over his three-year career in Gainesville, he made three-straight trips to the CWS, captured back-to-back SEC titles in 2010 and 2011, compiled a record of 9-4 (.692), totaled seven saves and registered a 2.19 ERA in 86 appearances (seventh on the school’s career list) and two starts. Rodriguez’s career ERA is the lowest by a Gator pitcher since aluminum bats were introduced in 1974 and his total of 10.64 strikeouts per nine innings ranks No.1. He notched 151 strikeouts and allowed 30 walks in 127.2 innings, while holding opponents to a .227 performance, tied for the eighth-lowest by a UF hurler.
Besides Rodriguez, there are six players with UF ties in the Big Leagues: infielder Mark Ellis (Los Angeles Dodgers), first baseman Matt LaPorta (Cleveland Indians), Maronde, right-hander Darren O’Day (Baltimore Orioles), infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn (Detroit Tigers) and catcher David Ross (Atlanta Braves).
Courtesy UF Communications