The stars nearly aligned for Dereck Rodriguez -- son of the former 14-time All-Star catcher, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- on Monday.
With his dad in the crowd, the Rookie League Elizabethton hurler didn't allow a hit until he gave up a single to Bristol's Carlos Munoz with one out in the seventh. He worked around the base hit and finished with seven strikeouts vs. just one walk over seven shutout innings as the E-Twins blanked the Pirates, 6-0.
After the game, Rodriguez met with his father, who caught Kenny Rogers' perfect game in 1994 and Justin Verlander's no-hitter in 2007.
"He told me I was locating the ball well and did a good job throwing the right pitches in the right counts," Rodriguez told MiLB.com. "We talk sometimes after my starts, he'll ask me, 'How did it go?' He tells me I should have done this different or whatever -- typical father stuff. But he was here at the game, he flew out this morning and he flies out tomorrow morning -- he came in to see me this start. This is the first time he's seen me."
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Monday's outing was particularly impressive given that the fifth-year pro didn't become a starter until a few weeks ago and is in just his second season as a pitcher after spending the first three as an outfielder. Monday night marked his fourth career start.
After pitching exclusively out of the bullpen last year in Elizabethton, Rodriguez started this season in a relief role at Class A Advanced Fort Myers, making just one appearance before the Twins decided to try him as a starter. Rodriguez spent the month of May in extended camp making the transition and then struggled in a pair of June starts at Class A Cedar Rapids, giving up seven earned runs over seven innings in two starts. But he quickly regained his footing after being sent down to Elizabethton, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings on June 23 before his gem on Monday night.
"I like it, you get to go out there not as much as a reliever, but you're out there longer," Rodriguez told MiLB.com of the transition. "I like the routine. I like the process to get your body ready for the next start, I think it's fun. It's awesome."
The Twins selected Rodriguez in the sixth round of the 2011 Draft. He hit .216 with six homers and 36 RBIs in 342 at-bats over 100 games from 2011-13 before converting to the mound last year. He posted a 1.05 ERA in 25 2/3 innings for Elizabethton last year.
Alex M. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.