There’s a story behind every player. In the tale that’s told about the beginning catcher Ivan Rodriguez's career, I would like to recommend you listen to Tom Grieve. He was the Texas Rangers general manager when “Pudge” signed with the Rangers on July 27, 1988.
“They put a radar gun on him when he was 16 years old throwing to second base, and it was like 92 miles per hour,” Grieve recalled about the tryout camp where members of his scouting staff watched Pudge’s talents.
Grieve was a guest on Saturday’s edition of Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Grieve discussed the personnel involved with signing Rodriguez, the tryout camp where they saw Rodriguez, and the advancement of the catcher through the Rangers minor league system. Grieve was the general manager when Rodriguez made his Major League debut at the age of 19 on June 20, 1991.
“We knew that when we called him up that he would hold his own offensively because he was a contact hitter. He didn’t strike out. We didn’t know how much he would hit, but he wouldn’t embarrass himself, and he wouldn’t get buried offensively,” Grieve recalled about the eventual .296 career hitter. “But, we also knew that all the scouting reports on his defense were true, and that he could completely control the other team’s running game and make us a better team.”
According to baseball-reference.com, Rodriguez ranks 76th all-time catching 45.68% of potential base stealers. Rodriguez never had a 3-digit strikeout total in any of his 21 seasons in Major League Baseball. Furthermore, he earned 13 Gold Gloves which is the most all-time among catchers. Rodriguez played for the Rangers through the 2002 season and later returned in August of 2009.
Listen to the podcast for Grieve’s interesting memories pertaining to the start of Pudge’s pro career.