Former Ellsworth Community College baseball player Melvin Rodriguez, who transferred to Jackson State, has experienced great success on the field … and it just keeps getting better. Along with the many baseball awards Rodriguez has received this year, he's now a proud graduate of Jackson State University.
Rodriguez was recruited to Ellsworth in 2011 by ECC Athletic Director (and former Head Baseball Coach) Nate Forsyth during a recruiting trip to Manati, Puerto Rico. "Melvin showed really well the day we saw him in Puerto Rico," recalls Forsyth. "He had good bat speed and could really hit. I could tell he was a super hard worker."
Coming to Iowa was a big step for Rodriguez but the chance to play baseball and get an education was too good to pass up. "He put his head down and went to class and did everything right in the classroom and on the baseball field," says Forsyth. "Sometimes the language barrier can be difficult, but he worked hard on improving his English."
After playing at ECC for two years, Rodriguez transferred to Jackson State. In his junior year he hit .309 on a team that went to its second straight NCAA regional tournament. His senior and final year of playing baseball has brought him additional success.
Rodriguez was recently selected by the Southwestern Athletic Conference as its Player of the Year and co-Hitter of the Year. He was named to the 2015 Preseason All-SWAC First Team. Rodriguez ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division I baseball in batting (April 21) with a .451 average. He leads the league in batting average, hits, RBIs and walks. He also ranks high in runs scored and doubles. In 207 at bats, he has struck out only 11 times.
Currently Rodriguez is 4th in the nation in batting average with .421, 5th in the nation for hits with 93, and top 25 in the nation for RBIs with 60. He has also hit seven home runs and driven in 60 runners.
Rodriguez's list of awards continues to accumulate. He was named a Louisville Slugger All-American as well as College Sports Madness All-American. He was the only player from the SWAC to receive the College Sports Madness All-American honor. He also received Fourth Team honors from the organization.
Rodriguez was a finalist for the 2015 C Spire Ferriss Trophy, an award named for Mississippi's 93-year-old baseball legend Boo Ferriss, who pitched for Mississippi State and the Boston Red Sox before becoming a highly successful college coach at Delta State. In addition to the nominees' athletic talent, they were also all honors students.
The next step for Rodriguez could be the major leagues. He has been listed on the SWAC 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team and is #5 on the 2015 MLB Draft Talent-Hitting list. A player from the SWAC has been drafted every year since the Rule 4 draft began in 1965.
"ECC is extremely proud of all of Melvin's accomplishments," says Forsyth. "This is the kind of success we hope for when our student-athletes attend Ellsworth and then transfer to continue to pursue their academic and athletic dreams."