Lefty Rodriguez is first 2012 draftee to reach bigs

Lefty Rodriguez is first 2012 draftee to reach bigs

Lefty Rodriguez is first 2012 draftee to reach bigs
LOS ANGELES -- Just three months removed from being selected by the Dodgers in the second round out of the University of Florida, left-hander Steven Rodriguez became the first player from the 2012 Draft to be called up to the Majors.

"Call me Paco," he said introducing himself. "The only time I'm called Steven is when my mom is mad at me."

With the Dodgers in need of a left-handed reliever, Rodriguez got the call Tuesday and was on the mound before Wednesday's game throwing a bullpen session to introduce himself to his new coaches.

Sitting in class a mere few months ago, the 21-year-old now finds himself in the thick of a pennant race.

"These are the guys I've watched on TV," he said. "To be part of this, it's hard to put into words."

Rodriguez was projected to be one of the first possible players to make it the big leagues when drafted, and Dodgers scouting director and assistant general manager Logan White predicted he could be ready to be called up at the end of 2013 or for the 2014 season after the Draft.

With Randy Choate the only lefty in the Dodgers' bullpen since Scott Elbert hit the disabled list, the need for a reliever like Rodriguez was expedited.

Batters hit only 7-for-47 (.149) off of Rodriguez in Double-A in 13 2/3 innings pitched. He posted a 2.19 ERA in 86 games with the University of Florida.

Rodriguez went 1-0 with five saves and a 0.92 ERA (two earned runs in 19 2/3 innings) in 21 relief appearances between Double-A and Class A.

After Rodriguez was drafted, White said he could see Rodriguez as a starter or a closer down the road. The former Gator throws in the 90-94-mph range with a nice breaking ball.

"As soon as he's ready and as soon as we need him, if we need him, I think he can be more than a left-on-left guy," White said back in June. "I don't see why he doesn't have the stuff to pitch in any role you want out of the bullpen."

Manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday he will be used primarily as a lefty specialist.

He said he has been pitching in relief since college and it's what he likes to do. For now, he's ready to help the Dodgers in any way he can with one month left in the season.

"Today, everybody here's been great to me," he said. "Now I've got to perform. I've got to get over it. But on the mound, looking up at all the decks, the biggest place I've ever played before was Omaha and they only have two decks."