2022 D1 Baseball Recruits (Part 5)

Raimiel ‘Ray’ Rodríguez will play SS for the Cometz

In the time it took us to put together the last segment in our series on foreign recruits, two teams – the Metz Cometz and Rouen Huskies – have together revealed the names of three more players slated to make his debut this year in France’s D1 league.

We can’t keep up!

Not that we’re complaining. If the announcements are coming fast and furious, it’s because baseball season really is just around the corner. And yes, expect more surprises in the days to come.

But enough with the bla bla bla. Before we get any further behind in the news, here’s the lowdown on the latest “import” annoucements:

Raimiel Rodríguez

Every team needs a good shortstop, and the Metz Cometz, who will be participating in the D1 for just the third time, feel that they’ll have one this year in the person of Raimiel Rodríguez.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Rodríguez now lives in the United States, where he played – and played well – at the high school and university levels.

Rodríguez hit 8 HRs in 2021

The 25-year-old starred most recently for the Wildcats of Johnson and Wales University, in Providence, Rhode Island, where he earned conference MVP honors last year after batting .276 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 28 games played.

In 2018 and 2019, he boasted averages of .385 and .344 for the team, before struggling a bit in the COVID-shorted 2020 season, when he appeared in just five games. Johnson and Wales Univeristy competes at the D-III level of the NCAA.

Rodríguez has also played for amateur teams in the United States, including Mass Envelope (2021) in the Boston Park League, and the Syracuse Spartans, in the New York Collegiate Baseball League (2018).

“My expectations for this season are to make the playoffs and then try to surprise people and make a run for the championship,” he explained in a recent interview with the Cometz. “I am planning to bring my bat, defense, motivation, high energy, and my knowledge to the team!”

Patrick Jordan

The hard-hitting shortstop isn’t the first recruit Metz announced for the 2022 season. As Le Baseblog noted earlier in the month, the Cometz are also bringing on a catcher, a two-way player, and starting pitcher, all from the United States.

Nor, in turns out, is Rodríguez the last of the lot. Just yesterday, the Cometz made yet another personnel announcement, this time to introduce a right-handed power pitcher who had an excellent season last year with a small university in Massachusetts called Westfield State.

In 35 innings, Patrick Jordan posted an ERA of 2.06 with 37 strikeouts for the Westfield State Owls, who, like the Wildcats of Johnson and Wales University, play at the D-III level of the NCAA.

The former Univeristy of Maine recruit has plenty still to prove (Credit: Metz Cometz)

Interestingly, the 24-year-old was originally recruited to play at an even higher level of university competition, in the NCAA’s D-1, with the University of Maine. That opportunity ended up being cut short by injury and subsequent surgery.

In 2020, the COVID crisis cost Jordan yet another season. But rather than thrown in the towel, the young Bostonian worked hard to recover, as evidenced by his success at Westfield State.

Now he’ll have a new opportunity to shine, in the French league, and Metz Cometz President David Ten Eyck, for one, is confident that Jordan will do just that.

“Patrick’s profile is atypical in many ways, But after talking with him, and looking at his trajectory, I quickly became confinced that he’s the best option for us,” Ten Eyck explained.

Javier Hernández

The reigning D1 champion Rouen Huskies made an big recruiting announcement of their own this past weekend, introducing a player who also spent some time in the United States, but at the professional level.

Catcher Javier Hernández, 25, hails from Maracay, Venezuela and, like many of the Latin American players recruited each year to play in the D1, signed his first pro contract as a teenager, in his case with the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

The newest Husky, Javier Hernandez (Credit: Rouen Huskies)

Just 16 at the time, he started off playing in the Dominican Summer League. For many such prospects, a season or two in the DR is as far as they go with their respective MLB clubs. But in Hernandez’s case, the Blue Jays next offered him a chance to play in the minor leagues in the United States and Canada, where he spent six seasons, eventually reaching the A-Advanced level.

His last stint, in 2019, was with the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League (FSL). In seven seasons with various Blue Jays affiliates, Hernández collected 180 hits and 78 RBIs while batting .219.

“Javier showed a real desire to join our club,” expained Sylvain Virey, Rouen’s sports director. “He spent a long time with the Jays due to his skills as a player, but also because of his qualities as a person, and for us, that’s an aspect that’s really important when it comes to offering a player the chance to join our team.”

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