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Nellie Rodriguez quietly had a solid 2016 season

Setting career highs in home runs and walks doesn’t hurt.

Tony Lastoria/Fox Sports

While Bobby Bradley gets all the hype in regards to Cleveland Indians prospects who can go yard, first baseman Nellie Rodriguez continues to put up eerily similar numbers just one level ahead of him.

Like Bradley, Rodriguez has been a huge power threat in the heart of the batting order with a high walk and strikeout rate. Rodriguez made the full-time jump to Double-A Akron in 2016, which is widely considered the most difficult transition in the minor leagues.

Not surprisingly, Rodriguez set a career high in strikeout rate, whiffing in 32.1 percent of his at bats, but he continues to hit bombs, and that definitely helps make up for it.

While top prospects like Yandy Diaz, Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier, Adam Plutko, Shawn Morimando and Perci Garner all were promoted from Akron to Columbus throughout the season, Rodriguez stayed behind, likely due to Jesus Aguilar and his 30 home runs from first base in Triple-A.

The former 15th round draft pick 2012 had his third straight season of hitting at least 20 home runs and 30 doubles, blasting a career best 26 out of the park in 2016. His ISO was also a career best .224 and his wRC+ remained solid at 129.

It’s no surprise that Rodriguez helped lead Akron to the Eastern League championship, batting .270 with two doubles, four RBI and two walks during their seven game run to the title.

The biggest difference between Rodriguez and Bradley is the fact that Rodriguez is a right-handed power bat compared to Bradley’s left. Also, Rodriguez is better defensively, holding a career best .993 fielding percentage this past season.

At 6’2, 250 pounds, Rodriguez has the size to be a big time power hitter in the major leagues, it just all depends on whether or not he can cut down on the strikeouts, and that could be what holds him back in the long term. Since debuting in 2012, he’s never had a full season where he struck out less than 23.6 percent of the time, and even that year was early in his development against Low-A pitchers.

The sturdy slugger is expected to move up to Triple-A Columbus in 2017, potentially taking a spot on the 40-man roster and could help the Indians out if they need some depth at first base throughout the year at any point.