Jeremy Rodriguez – Bench Coach
Rodriguez will serve as the team’s primary third base coach, work with the infielders and help with defensive positioning in games. He’s the staff’s youngest member at just 29. He played five seasons within the Padres’ organization.
The former catcher was born in Burbank, California and graduated from Crespi Carmelite High School in neighboring Encino.
He was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 16th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of the Bakersfield campus of California State University.
Rodriguez played for five seasons within the Padres’ organization hitting .235 over 175 games. His last three seasons were all with the Lake Elsinore Storm of the Advanced Single A California League.
After two seasons as the manager of the DSL Padres he was signed by the Dodgers to manage the Great Lakes Loons in 2017. During the 2018 season he managed the Ogden Raptors of the rookie level Pioneer League. His leap to the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers is a bit surprising, at least from the outside.
On January 7, 2019 Steven Douglas of LWS Baseball met Jeremy Rodriguez on the back fields of Camelback Ranch and asked him how it felt to wear a uniform that has “Dodgers” scripted across the chest.
“It definitely feels a lot like home. Reggie [Smith} taught me the Dodger way while I was Younger, and it really helped me adapt a lot faster with the organization. The Dodgers is a first-class organization and I’m extremely honored to be able to put on that uniform each day. All the history that comes with the name is remarkable and I’m just extremely blessed to be a part of it.”
Douglas asked JRod – as he called Rodriguez – how he found about his promotion.
“Brandon Gomes, our farm director, and I went on a walk after one of our Instructional League games and asked how I felt about being a bench coach in the higher levels.” Rodriguez continued, “I thought it was exciting news because I don’t have coaching experience in the higher levels and for me, I knew it was going to be a great learning experience. I want to grow as much as I can as a coach and getting experience at the highest level in the minor leagues is definitely going to help my growth.”
As we might expect, Jeremy Rodriguez would like to manage at the MLB level so working at the AAA level is getting him closer to that goal.
“If it’s Gods will, then it will happen. Right now, I’m just trying to learn something new every day and be the best teammate I can be. Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be in the big leagues and that’s what I’m working towards.”
Travis Barbary- Manager
Eyes were opened when Travis Barbary was named the manager of the Oklahoma City Dodgers for the 2019 season. The now 47-year-old had a very brief minor league career. As a 22-year-old he played 17 games with Great Falls in the Pioneer League. That was it.
Since then he has been a Dodger for life over the past 25 years serving as the organization’s roving catcher coordinator for the past 12 years.
He has managed before but still. He was the Rookie-Level Ogden manager in 2003 and 2004. He also managed Low-A Columbus from 2005-06. He was a hitting coach in the lower levels of the system after spending four seasons as the Dodger bullpen catcher.
As a catching coordinator he has had extensive contact with two of the Dodgers’ top prospects – Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith – both catchers on the cusp of MLB. The expectation is that both will be on the opening day roster with the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Thursday, April 4 in San Antonio.
There is more to a manager than just being a former ball player. The man who can guide young men not only to become better ball players but especially to grow as young men is all important as many of the young men do not get to fulfill their dream of MLB.
I came across two interviews that may help us understand why Travis Barbary would be put into a high-level managing position in this particular year.
First an interview by Diamond Prospects on January 5, 2017.
DP- What did baseball mean to you as a player? What does the game mean to you now?
“As a young man, baseball was probably the most important thing in my life. I dedicated myself to becoming the best at what I did. However, looking back, I didn’t enjoy playing the game as much as I should have because I put too much pressure on myself to be perfect. Now, as a coach, I try to get young players to understand that in order to improve, they have to make mistakes and learn from them. As a coach, I believe that giving a player permission to make mistakes allows them to ultimately play with more freedom.”
DP- Give a young high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice:
“Enjoy the game. Baseball is such a hard game to play and we only make it harder by trying to be perfect. Don’t be afraid to fail. Our failures can be our best teacher. Pay attention to the game. Learn everything you can and then apply it. Be a great teammate.”
A second article was written by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports on February 27, 2018. Perhaps some of you have read it. I had not.
Travis Barbary as we might expect has observed and worked with young catcher Keibert Ruiz since he was signed by the Dodgers and along each stop on the way. Aware of the culture shock for the young catcher and the communication gap as he struggled to learn English and speak with pitchers on the mound, Barbary came up with a plan. He asked the Dodgers if Ruiz, then 18, could live with him in Clemson during the winter along with his wife and four children. Keibert could learn English there. He could train in modern facilities. Brown also writes: “He could watch hours of “The Andy Griffith Show,” for which Barbary’s fondness is legendary.”
“We thought it was a great idea,” Friedman said. “More than that, it would be interesting to see Keibert’s reaction. That would tell us something about him.”
This is part of what they found out.
“I feel really fortunate I found someone like him,” the ballplayer says in careful English. “I don’t know how to repay him. They are like my family.” Then he adds, to be sure he has it just right, “Mi familia.” Brown continues that the youngster started calling Travis Barbary, “Papi”, when he already has a Papi back home in Venezuela.