And he's 15 years old.
From a St. Louis Post-Dispatch blog...
Cards eye a prize from Latin pool
By Derrick Goold
TOWER GROVE — One of the players the Cardinals just signed from Latin America they found because they were looking at the same player as everyone else.
On one of several trips to Venezuela for the Cardinals vice president of player development Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals held a private workout with shortstop Cesar Valera and outfielder Yorman Rodriguez. The former signed with the Cardinals last week.
The latter is coveted and going to command what Luhnow expects is a record sum.
“We have been in on him the entire time,” Luhnow said. “He has the same agent as Cesar. Some people think there is a deal already in place. I don’t. We plan to still be in on him.”
As chronicled here last week, the Cardinals signed six players when the doors opened on the Latin market July 2. The three highest bonuses the organization have ever given a Latin player were to three of those six players, including Valera. Luhnow said last week that he suggested they hold off big bonuses last year so that they had the money to contend this year, wading into what’s been advertised as a strong 16-year-old crop of players. That opinion is supported by the spending, as The Arizona Republic discussed recently. On his personal blog, San Diego Padres assistant general manager Paul DePodesta outlined the Padres money spent and aggressive pursuit of international talent, calling it a “monumental day”. Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan chimes in on the sea change, too.
Joe Strauss, in this Sunday story chocked with good writing, explored how the Cardinals have established relationships with the agents and expanded more than just their presence in Latin America, they increased their expenses there, too.
They better be willing to do even more to land Rodriguez.
Strauss reported that third baseman Roberto De La Cruz received a bonus of $1.2 million. The highest reported bonus so far went to a pitcher and was a whopper — Oakland dove headlong into the market with a $4.25-million bonus for Michael Inoa. The belief is that Rodriguez will be much nearer Inoa than De La Cruz. Wrote Baseball America a few weeks ago:
When he finally signs, there’s a chance that Rodriguez’s bonus could surpass the $1.9 million that Miguel Cabrera received from the Marlins in 1999, a record for a Venezuelan player.
Rodriguez has been compared in various outlets to Cabrera, for his skills more often than the bonus he could command. Rodriguez is considered by ESPN the second-best player available, but others see him only as a speedster, a 5 o’clock hitter who is swinging a question mark for a bat.
A scouting report of Rodriguez on Saber Scouting (check out the player featured in the masthead — look familiar?), describes Rodriguez as ”plus-plus speed” with raw “plus-plus power.” That’s site scouting report on Rodriguez reads, in part:
He’s been compared to Miguel Cabrera for his powerful bat and Venezuelan bloodlines, but more athletic comparisons like Cesar Cedeno, Eric Davis, or a right-handed hitting Carlos Beltran seem more apt. That being said, Rodriguez, or any of the hitters below him, could go to the GCL and hit .180 for three seasons and make everyone look stupid, but those kind of comparisons let you know why teams will pay him and that the tools are for real.
Why Rodriguez hasn’t signed yet is simple — he hasn’t turned 16. He will in August, and then a record bonus could be his. Several reports have said Rodriguez’s agent has stopped shopping the outfielder, stopped having him attend the private workouts, like the one he had with the Cardinals. The team believed to have a deal in place for him is Walt Jocketty’s Cincinnati Reds. Several places have the Yankees pursuing him as well.
Luhnow believes the Cardinals are still in play. And, he added, they are willing.
“We would be happy to set the record,” he said, with a caveat: “Given the right set of circumstances.”