When looking back on the 2013 season in which the St. Lucie Mets were able to enjoy, its no wonder why they remained in contention most of the second half. The team was made up of real good ball players, and if not for some injuries to key pitchers down the stretch, they may have stormed into the playoffs and taken it all.
I had the privilege of interviewing a few of their players like second basemen T.J. Rivera back in August and most recently, FSL Player of the Year Dustin Lawley, who both gave the Mets fans some real good insights into who they are and what they expect of their future.
This past week, I chatted with another one of the teams talented hitters, third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez. Aderlin, who has enjoyed a very good minor league career, was signed by the Mets in 2009 out of his native country of the Dominican Republic.
At the age of 17, his first stop was with the Gulf Coast Mets. In 17 games he batted .290. In 2010, he batted .300 with 23 doubles, 14 home runs, and 59 runs batted in between Kingsport and Savannah. He remained with Single-A Savannah the following season and even though his average dropped below .300, his power numbers improved and in 131 games, he hit 23 doubles, 17 home runs and 78 runs batted in.
In 2012, he spent time between Savannah and St. Lucie and in 125 games he batted .263 with 26 doubles, 24 home runs, and 83 runs batted in. Due to a bone bruise and a sprain in his right wrist, he miss all of the second half this season and played in only 62 games with St. Lucie, hitting .260 with 9 home runs and 41 runs batted in. But he has since recovered and is looking forward to playing at the Arizona Fall League and working on developing his game and taking it to another level.
This interview was originally conducted in Spanish, but I translated it for publication on MMO. Enjoy…
David – Is there anything about you that the Mets fans do not know, that you would like to share? Any hobbies or interests outside of baseball?
Aderlin - Well, when I am in the off-season, I like very much to spend time mainly with my family, go to church to give thanks to God for everything, and I like to go with my childhood friends to the baseball stadium and watch the younger players who are fighting for an opportunity to sign like I did.
David – What is your favorite food dish when you go home? Have you enjoyed any Spanish food while playing in the different cities?
Aderlin - My favorite food is rice with black beans and pork. And sometimes in some cities we are going to play in, we find Latino restaurants and I enjoy eating my favorite dishes.
David – When the off-season arrives, what do you look forward to doing the most? Family time, friend’s time, or just rest?
Aderlin - Church first, family and then friends.
David – You recently got married, how did you meet your wife and is she a fan of baseball?
Aderlin - I met my wife through my brother; she is his wife’s cousin, and yes she likes baseball.
David – How old were you when the Mets signed you, and where did you play prior to playing professional baseball?
Aderlin - I was 16 years and 7 months when the Mets signed me. I started to play baseball when I was 5 years old in a small playground close to where I lived and the team was called Luis Sports League.
David – Who was your favorite player growing up and did you model your game after him?
Aderlin - When I was growing up my favorite baseball player was Alex Rodriguez, but I never tried to do what he did, I like to have my own style.
David – Was it an easy transition for you to be able to adapt to living in the United States compared to living in Dominican Republic? Was it a culture shock?
Aderlin - The truth is at first it was very difficult because when I arrived in the states, I didn’t know any English, and I couldn’t communicate well. Also the culture was different, the food was the same, but with time little by little I started to adapt and I’m still getting better at adapting to living here.
David – When you signed with the Mets, who was the first person you told?
Aderlin - The first person I told was my mother.
David – How did your parents feel with you leaving home at such a young age to play professional baseball?
Aderlin - Well the truth is, it was hard for my mother because we were never separated before. We have always been together as a family and she still is a little sad. But at the same time she understands the path that I decided to take and its what I like to do.
David – Do you sometimes get home sick and what do you miss the most?
Aderlin - Well the truth is the most I miss is my mother, my sister, my wife and going out with my friends that I know from my childhood, but I try my best not to think about it.
David – What was your experience playing baseball in your first full season of pro ball?
Aderlin - It was a very good experience, because for the first time I did not have a season like I expected. But I felt that I matured as a baseball player and also a person and I learned to make adjustments much faster. I kept following the instructions of my coaches more and more, but it was an incredible experience.
David – You have played 1B and 3B in your pro career, which one are you most confident playing?
Aderlin - I feel much better playing third base, its the position that I played the longest, but I learned first base also.
David – Which part of your game do you think improved the most from 2012? What part do you feel you need to work on?
Aderlin – It was my defense that I feel that I made the most improvement on and my plate discipline. I learned to narrow the batting zone more.
David – What do you do each off-season to get ready for the regular season? Do you have a regular workout routine or do you follow the Mets workout regimen?
Aderlin - The Mets always give me a workout plan and I combine it with a more physical workout of my own.
David – Is there anything in your approach to the game that you feel you need to improve on?
Aderlin - In my game I think I should keep working on all aspects of the game defensively and offensively. Also understanding the mental part of the game and recognizing situations when I need to be more aggressive or when I should be more passive.
David – Is there a Mets coach or manager that has helped you in your development and growth?
Aderlin - Most of the coaches and managers that I had, have helped me to be a better baseball player and better person within and off the field also.
David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?
Aderlin - T.J. Rivera and wait until they see me. I am not just a good baseball player, but a good citizen.
David – Your power number went down some from 2012 to 2013, what do you feel was the reason for the decline?
Aderlin - First of all, God has control over everything, another thing was I lost a lot of time with injuries, and it was something I could not control. But like I said only God knows why he allows things to happen, but the injury was what affected me the most.
David – Moving forward, what stands between you and the big leagues? What do you specifically need to work on as a player, and improve upon, in order to be ready to compete on the big stage?
Aderlin - First only God knows how far away the big leagues are for me, I would like it to be as soon as possible. I am working towards that, but that is a decision that is not in my hands, its first in God’s hands and then in the hands of the Mets. As far as I am concerned, I need to be more consistent defensively and also offensively. Then we will see when the time comes, and with God’s help that I will be able to compete in the major Leagues.
David – How will you prepare over the winter, can you describe your workout regimen? What do you hope to work on while playing in the Arizona Fall League?
Aderlin - I just try to put my body in the best position in order to give the best of me on the field. In the Arizona Fall League, I hope to continue improving the consistency of my game and to be more patient. I want to learn as much as possible from the coaches they have there.
David – Do you want to share anything with the Mets fans?
Aderlin - Only to say, I hope to soon be able help the big team win a World Series.
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Having the opportunity to share Aderlin’s story has been a privilege and in the future the Mets fans will be able to witness not just a very good ball player, but a player with a great attitude about the game and life itself. As with many other international ball players, Aderlin was signed by the Mets at a young age and he left his home to pursue a journey that he hopes will lead him to eventually becoming a major league ball player one day. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share Aderlin’s story with the Mets fans.
(Photo Credit: NJ Baseball)