As if he has been programmed — in a good way — to describe what pitch he prefers throwing, Nathan Rodriguez kept the description of his favorite offering brief and to the point.
“A first-pitch strike,” the Calvert Hall sophomore said.
And while he was serious about what works best for him — or any pitcher, for that matter, — Rodriguez knows that a lot more goes into getting hitters out than sometimes meets the eye.
A ton of effort is always a big reason why players like Rodriguez have such a bright future.
The fact that the right-hander’s velocity has increased from 82 to 87 miles per hour under the tutelage of the folks at Absolute Sports Performance can be directly attributed to time well spent at his home away from home at the Abingdon facility.
That’s where Bill Goudy and Travis Hash hone the strength and skill of young athletes like Rodriguez and a bevy of other area high school baseball and softball players.
It’s a double-team dream, so to speak, with Goudy handling the diamond sports — pitching and hitting — and Hash improving athletes’ stamina and strength in order to withstand the rigors of a long season.
And while Rodriguez is adding oomph to his two-seam fastball, Goudy also has to make sure that the youngster’s control is sharp while trying to locate a curveball and develop a changeup.
Regardless of how he fares in his first year on the hill for the Cardinals’ varsity, Goudy said that Rodriguez has the potential to become a flamethrower.
”He’s a big, tall kid,” Goudy said. “If he stays healthy, he might eventually throw 95 (miles per hour). He’s different from a lot of guys — having that big frame.”
Although Goudy said that Rodriguez’s upside might be higher as a pitcher, the talented sophomore has already committed to Mount St. Mary’s University as a two-way prospect who also plays the outfield.
”He can hit, he has speed and he has a gun in the outfield,” Goudy. “I think Mount St. Mary’s is a good fit, because he’s a quiet kid. He’s not a look-at-me, bat-flipping type of kid. He comes in, does his work and goes home. He likes to grind things out.”
As far as his outfield play goes, Rodriguez has the tools to become a good fielder.
”He can run — he’s fast for a big kid,” Goudy said. “If he didn’t have good speed, (Mount St. Mary’s) wouldn’t have recruited him to be a two-way player.”
A hard-worker who hustled to ASP six days per week before high school practice began, Rodriguez now limits his appearances there to three times per week.
”His hitting and pitching have come a long way,” his father, Carlos Rodriguez, said. “He’s put on 13-14 pounds of muscle (since the fall). ASP is everything to him. He’s evolved.”
Hash said that adding some pounds and power would pay huge dividends for an athlete with such “a tall and protectable frame.”
Rodriguez is laser-focused on improving all aspects of his game, Hash said.
”He’s made great strides,” the coach added. “Since starting training, Nate has surpassed his personal records in both hitting exit velocity and pitching velocity.”