DUNEDIN, Fla – Daniel Rodriquez knew he wanted to be a baseball player even though he was growing up in soccer loving Mexico.
The 18-year-old, who prefers Dalton, is currently in minor league spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays, hoping to be promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts in the mid A Midwest League.
Born in Mexicali, Baja California, Rodriguez’s passion for baseball started when he was a little boy, encouraged by his mom ‘’ against his grandfather’s wishes.
His idol, pitcher David Cardenas Cortes, also a Mexicali native, had a long successful career in MLB that started in 1999 with the Atlanta Braves and ended with the Colorado Rockies in 2006.
“I grew up dreaming I could pitch like David Cardenas in the MLB and my mom encouraged me to pursue baseball instead of soccer, like my grandpa wanted,” said Rodriguez, in Spanish.
He started playing in the Felix Arce Mexican leagues with Bravo’s organization, where he was selected to play in teams of all categories, representing Baja California.
He then went on to participate in several tournaments in the United States and only five months after he started pitching for the minor league Mexico City Red Devils, he was signed as a free agent by The Blue Jays at 16..
“I felt so good and honoured to have been drafted by a high quality team like the Blue Jays, I worked really hard to get there,” said Rodriguez.
He had a great performance In the Dominican Summer League in 2012 where he was named most valuable pitcher, with 50 innings, three games won, one lost, two matches saved and a 1.80 ERA.
The next year he was sent to play in the Rookie level Gulf Coast Blue Jays, in Dunedin, Florida where he is coached by former MLB pitcher Willie Collazo and has continued to show promise.
“I have learned lot from Willie, he is my mentor and was also my trainer at DSL, he has completely helped me improve the way I pitched,” said Rodriguez.
The Mexican pitcher also has a very good relationship with both his Latin and North American teammates since he speaks a little English and has heard he has a good chance to play for the Lansing Lugnuts, after spring training.
“I am motivated to go to the next level I am in a very good shape and the coaches seem to thinks so, I am also going to start taking English lessons here,” said the rookie. “Even though I miss my home and family, I am looking forward to stay here and play in the MLB and make them proud.”