Arguably the best hitter in college baseball was born in a small Puerto Rican town, later moved to Iowa and is on the cusp of being drafted out of Jackson State next month.

Senior Melvin Rodriguez is currently hitting .439, which is second in the nation behind Kevin Kaczmarski of Evansville who is slugging at a .464 clip.

Rodriguez also leads the SWAC in RBI (70), slugging percentage (.663) and hits (86) this season.

A story in the Clarion-Ledger notes that Rodriguez grew up in Manati, Puerto Rico, a town of 44,000 in a country that has produced more than 100 professional baseball players, including the likes of Roberto Clemente, Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martinez.

Rodriguez came to the United States after he was spotted by an Iowa community college baseball coach recruiting players.

After a short stint in Iowa, Rodriguez was looking to move on.

It was a former community college teammate already at JSU, pitcher Sergio Parra, who first told (Jackson State head coach Omar) Johnson about the hitter. And after spending time in Iowa, Rodriguez was open to the thought of Mississippi.

“It was a winning team, that was the first thing,” Rodriguez said. “And I was looking for a warmer city, because Iowa was too cold.

Rodriguez, who is almost a lock to win SWAC Player of the Year honors at the end of the season, is a likely draft pick come June.

“I just realized everything that is happening right now is not coming back,” Rodriguez said. “I just work hard every game, and have fun. Be with my teammates.”



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