If one didn't know better, Dereck Rodriguez just might seem like any other baseball player. Like plenty of other prospects in the Miami area, he's impressed scouts with his tantalizing blend of speed, power and a strong arm. An outfielder by trade, it's entirely possible that Rodriguez could be playing in the minor leagues next spring. And that's where his experience is a big difference, as there's just a touch of family experience in the big leagues.
According to the Miami Herald, Dereck Rodriguez's actual full name is Ivan Dereck Rodriguez after his father, legendary catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. While the latter only gets to spend a handful of days per year with his son, Dereck Rodriguez insists that he's learned plenty from his father, including the need to achieve plenty himself to separate his success from that of his father.
"I want to put my own name out there," said Dereck Rodriguez, the starting right fielder for Monsignor Pace. "I didn't want anyone to confuse me [with Pudge Rodriguez]."
Few are doing that now, with the senior emerging as one of the stars on a Westminster (Fla.) Monsignor Pace High team that also includes the son of former MLB shortstop Rey Ordonez. Pace's coach, Tom Duffin, said that Rodriguez's skills could help him bypass the school he has committed to play for next year -- Florida's Santa Fe Community College -- and head straight to the pros, should an adequate signing bonus head his way.
"He has a cannon for an arm," Duffin told the Herald. "He gets a great jump on balls in the outfield and can cover ground.
"He has tremendous power to all fields, and he can hit for average."
And, unlike his 5-foot-9 father, the younger Rodriguez has a size advantage, with room to grow into his 6-foot-2 frame.
Whether Rodriguez can make the jump to his father's level remains to be seen. In the meantime, it's certain that no one in South Florida will pass him off as just any other Rodriguez again.
- Pudge Rodriguez