Cuban OF Takes Nicaraguan Paper for a Ryde?

Ryde Rodriguez hit .242 in winter ball

Cuban émigré Ryde Rodriguez told a Nicaraguan paper that he signed with the Cardinals for a $650,000 bonus. The club flatly states it is not true. Is there more here than meets the eye or was the young man just bragging?

Outfielder Ryde Rodriguez is a 6-foot-2, 230 pound physical specimen to whom at least one scout compares to former major leaguer Ruben Sierra. Having just recently turned 19 years old (born February 2, 1988), the switch-hitting Rodriguez drew the attention of major league scouts from multiple organizations even before playing winter ball for the Indios del Boer of the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League.

How did the Cuban end up in Nicaragua?

Rodriguez and his half-brother, right-handed pitcher Duniesky Flores, a.k.a. Dunieski Rodriguez, legally left Castro's island nation to rejoin their mother, who is living in Argentina. Both boys soon signed with agents and after pitching just four games for Boer, the 6-foot-7 Flores recently came to terms with the Atlanta Braves for a reported bonus of $100,000.

Ryde Rodriguez also played winter ball in Nicaragua as a way to show off his talents, but as of yet had not signed. Reports that the five-tool player and his agent Michele Aguirre were seeking a bonus of $1 million or more likely made this showcasing necessary.

Reports on Ryde's winter play have been mixed to say the least. While some say that Rodriguez impressed scouts during workouts, others noted he was slowed by a hamstring injury. Yet another report was highly critical of Rodriguez' batting stroke and throwing accuracy and rated his running just 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

The level of play and facilities in Nicaragua are not up to the standards of the major winter leagues, such as those in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Yet, that lower competition makes the league appealing for some. Even so, Ryde struggled this winter.

Here is Rodriguez' winter line for the first-place Indios del Boer, with his team averages listed below:

 

PA

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

BB

SB

SO

RBI

BA

OBA

SLG

Rodriguez

68

62

12

15

3

1

0

6

1

16

4

.242

.309

.323

Boer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.282

.368

.399

"How does this affect the St. Louis Cardinals?" you might ask.

Well, according to a press report from Nicaragua, Ryde is saying that he has signed with the Cardinals for a $650,000 bonus. Gerald Hernandez from the newspaper LA PRENSA in Managua, Nicaragua, wrote a story to that effect this past week.

The signing bonus, if accurate, would be the second-largest in the history of Nicaraguan baseball. Rodriguez went on to tell Hernandez that he was off to the Cardinals' Dominican Republic academy to prepare for the 2007 season.

While I have no reason to question the credibility of Hernandez, when I read the part in his story where Ryde explains that the Cardinals had Albert Pujols personally speak with him as a part of their lobbying efforts for him to sign, the signals were strong that this was a tall tale.

Even so, I felt the need to check this out with the Cardinals. I was told in no uncertain terms by two different executives from the player procurement side of the house that the report out of Nicaragua regarding Rodriguez is not accurate.

Still, might the story be half true? Could the Cards have asked Rodriguez to travel to the Dominican to get a better look at him before deciding whether to offer him a contract?

Maybe, but even if so, the Cardinals would surely want to keep it quiet. After all, the Wild West-like environment surrounding Latin American signings makes this an extremely difficult arena in which to negotiate. If he didn't know it before, Hernandez now knows that all too well.

At this point, all we can assume is that Ryde took Hernandez and LA PRENSA on a joy ride of his own. But, stay tuned to see if there is a second heat in this race.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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