Brooklyn native Manny Rodriguez makes Cyclones debut
Homegrown Brooklyn talent Manny Rodriguez was recently picked by his boyhood club the New York Mets in the 10th round of the MLB draft. He prepared for his debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones against the rival Staten Island Yankees, which took place on Friday.
When asked about his experience getting drafted, Rodriguez said it came as a surprise. He got a call from a different team saying they were going to pick him in the next few rounds, but when a local Mets employee texted him to put his social media on private, that threw him for a loop, and a few minutes later, his phone started blowing up.
“I honestly thought it was the other team I was talking to,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t thinking it was the Mets but when I looked, I went from a 10 of excitement to 20 right off the bat. I was with my brother and sister and it was a great feeling, there were a lot of tears.”
Being so close to home, Rodriguez is excited to have the friends and family he grew up with come see his games, certainly making him feel at home a lot quicker.
For Rodriguez, getting picked by the Mets is a dream come true. The four-year starting shortstop for the University of Cincinnati said he grew up watching the Mets playing in their pinstripe jerseys, watching the likes of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. It made him want to work harder to achieve his goals.
“I never would have imagined that one day I could possibly wear their same jersey, it really is a dream come true, especially being from Brooklyn. I know what it means to be a Met. It’s an honor,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez grew up in Brooklyn until he was 15, when he moved to Maryland for high school with his uncle and aunt. In the summers, he came back home to see his family and play summer ball with the Brooklyn Bonnies.
When asked if he was maybe a little nervous about his pro debut Friday, Rodriguez responded with confidence.
“I don’t get nervous, I just get really excited,” Rodriguez said. “I have to calm myself down and try not to do too much,” he added with a grin.
Talking about his strengths on the diamond, Rodriguez said he prides himself on his defense. His range and arm strength allow him to make plays that others infielders can’t make.
Although he used to be more of a contact hitter, this past offseason he admitted he’d been working on generating more power in his swing, using his lower body more.
Playing for the Bearcats, Rodriguez got on base every single game of 2018 and the final two of 2017 to end his career with a streak of 51 games, earning him the nod for the American Athletic Conference First Team.
He hopes to be able to continue that streak and do whatever he can to get on base, and produce runs to help the team win.
Now that he’s a professional, Rodriguez knows he has to carry himself as one on and off the field, but to never forget to have fun playing the game he loves.
When the Mets drafted Rodriguez, he got an interesting tidbit of advice from a former coach who had experience playing at MCU Park, who told him not to swing for the fences because the wind knocks the ball down.
Apart from the excitement of becoming a professional ball player, Rodriguez is also very happy not to have to deal with school anymore. He graduated from Cincinnati with a diploma in sports administration.
“I’m actually surprised I graduated. Now I can come out to the ballpark everyday and do something I enjoy 24/7 nonstop, no classes,” Rodriguez said with a laugh.
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