"From a maturity standpoint, he's just older. He's got way more at-bats now. He's a guy that can do a lot of things in the outfield," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Dec. 5. "He was starting to get to his power, stealing a few bases, playing much better defense. So I think he's the type of guy that if this kid comes in, has a good winter ball, shows us something in Spring Training, you see him at least as a platoon player on your club in this situation."
Being out of options doesn't make Rodriguez a lock, however. Others like Adam Duvall and recent acquisition Scott Schebler will be in the mix competing for spots, too.
"I'm not a believer in giving guys spots on teams because they are out of options," Price said. "I've never been any place where that's a good business deal. It doesn't help the team to have a guy that's not a Major League player that's taking up a spot on a Major League roster because you don't want to lose him. I'd like him to come in and have a nice camp and show a maturity that would suggest he should be on our club."
In 2008, the Reds signed a then 16-year-old Rodriguez for $2.5 million -- a record bonus for a Venezuelan amateur player at the time. The right-handed hitter made his big league debut as a September callup in 2014 and played in 11 games. He was called up briefly in July of last season but did not play.
Over 85 games at Triple-A Louisville in 2015, Rodriguez batted .269/.308/.429 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. He did not play after July 28 because of a left calf injury. That foiled a chance for the Reds to give him more significant playing time, especially after left fielder Marlon Byrd was traded to the Giants on Aug. 20.
Rodriguez also played 21 games in the Venezuelan Winter League. MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the Reds' No. 18 prospect.
Tony Jaramillo, who was Louisville's hitting coach last season before being promoted in November to assistant hitting coach on the big league club, gave Price encouraging reports on Rodriguez.
"Tony felt that this kid was turning the corner and was about to become the type of player that we thought when we signed him as a young kid," Price said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.