Freshman Catcher Earning his Stripes for Vanderbilt
CJ Rodriguez was ranked as the 215th best player in the class of 2019 coming out of Mater Dei High School in Newport Beach, Ca. as ranked by Perfect Game, but in the early days of his career as a Vanderbilt Commodores, he seems to be exceeding that ranking, and then some.
Through the first five games of his freshman season, Rodriguez has been a star offensively and a solid defensive presence behind the dish. It's his offense however that is garnering the most attention right now.
Through those five games, Rodriguez is sporting a .316 batting average with six hits in 19 at-bats. He has eight total bases, with two doubles, two walks, one hit-by-pitch and has scored three runs and has three RBIand his slugging .421 during this stretch.
His current batting average has him currently second on the team behind Cooper Davis' current .333 average and ahead of national player of the year candidate Austin Martin's current .250 average.
"I'm just thankful I get the opportunity to come out and play, really," said Rodriguez on a recent edition of the Anchor Down podcast with Maz Herz. "Not too many guys get to start as a freshman here, so having the opportunity has been big for me."
The freshman was forced into the starters' role in game one of the season because of an illness to Ty Duvall, but he has made it tough for head coach Tim Corbin to get Duvall back into the lineup.
Speaking of Duvall, in his six plate appearances, he is hitting .500 with three hits, two runs, two RBI and has walked twice and been hit by a pitch.
While the Commodores offense has struggled at times in this early season, the catcher position has not been part of those struggles.
It's likely that Rodriguez will hit some rough spots as the season goes along, so having a senior like Duvall there to lead him is a nice situation for Corbin & company.
While the Commodores wait for Harrison Ray, Spencer Jones, Parker Noland, and Tate Kolwyck to heat up, having Rodriguez off to this start is a bonus for Vanderbilt.
It's no surprise that some of the young Commodores have struggled to start the season, so the hope is that this offense finds its stride sooner rather than later as they look to find ways to replace the production lost from last season.
Corbin said it best when he said this isn't last year's team, but the talent on this team is capable of producing more, and when they do, and as long as their pitching remains strong, this team will be one to contend with at the end of the season in both the conference and national conversations.