In the office of Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez hangs a photo of his son and current Pittsburgh Pirates utility man, Sean.
While he’s now a Bucco, Sean Rodriguez really broke through in the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays.
From 2010 to 2014, he had plenty of teammates in Florida — but one in particular reminds Johnny Rodriguez of a current Spike.
State College leadoff man and middle infielder Tommy Edman couldn’t ask for a better start to his professional career. After being drafted out of Stanford in the sixth round of this year’s draft, Edman has made an early impression.
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Enough for the manager to make a sizable comparison.
“He looks like Ben Zobrist,” Rodriguez said of Edman. “A small version, though. Ben’s 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4. He’s about 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11. But he plays the game.”
That’s a noteworthy compliment. Zobrist, a Tampa Bay Ray from 2006 to 2014 and now a fixture on the first-place Chicago Cubs, is a two-time All-Star and 2015 World Series champion with the Royals.
Zobrist, considered by many as a “super utility player,” has a high on-base rate and can be plugged in pretty much anywhere on the field or in the batting lineup.
Rodriguez sees those qualities in Edman.
The 21-year-old switch-hitter, entering Tuesday’s game at Tri-City, has a .321 batting average and .449 on-base percentage, which ranks second in the New York-Penn League. He also leads the Spikes in walks (11) and runs scored (13).
Based on the eye-test alone, Rodriguez sees a lot of potential in the versatile infielder.
“You watch his at-bats, not a lot of things going on,” Rodriguez said. “He doesn’t chase. He takes pitches. Not afraid to get into two-strike counts. Plays second base, and isn’t a flash shortstop, but he makes plays.
“He plays a Ben Zobrist-type game.”
Right-hander Dailyn Martinez was scheduled to start on Sunday for the Spikes, but was called up to Single-A Peoria on Saturday afternoon — and Rodriguez isn’t sure when, or if, he’ll be back.
Martinez boasted a 0.96 ERA and 17 strikeouts to just two walks in three starts with State College. The 23-year-old couldn’t replicate that success in his first outing with Peoria, allowing five earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning during his start on Sunday.
But Rodriguez would welcome him back with open arms.
“A couple of starters at Peoria got hurt, so he might be up there for 10 days, two weeks, could be less. We don’t know,” Rodriguez said. “It would be a great thing to have him back to put (left-hander Dewin) Perez back in the bullpen. But that’s not my call. That comes from above me.”
With a pair of double plays on Monday against the ValleyCats, the Spikes’ total for the season reached 15 — and it’s not lost on Rodriguez.
The manager said rolling deuce has been an emphasis for the team.
In the last round of batting practice groups in pregame warmups, if they’re not too tired, he’ll send out the infielders to field hits and practice turning two.
It seems to be helping.
“It really works,” Rodriguez said. “It really works out well.”