The Colorado Rockies have a well-known core. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story are as good of a trio as you will find in the major leagues. However, every team needs help during a season. This year, that help could come from top prospect Brendan Rodgers.
Brendan Rodgers Prospect Report
High School Dominance
Rodgers was one of the top prospects going into the 2015 Draft coming out of Lake Mary High School in Florida. His senior year cemented his status as one of the best after he slashed .360/457/786 with eight home runs in 92 plate appearances. Rodgers also only struck out 12 times in 25 games. Colorado spent the third overall selection that year to pick Rodgers up due to his outstanding prep production.
Minor League Progression
Rodgers has moved steadily through the Rockies farm system. The only level he has repeated is Triple-A Albuquerque in 2018 and 2019. Rodgers slashed just .232/264/290 in 72 plate appearances at that level in 2018, good for a wRC+ of just 44. He was much better last year hitting .350/412/622 in 160 plate appearances. Rodgers has been helped by playing in hitter-friendly parks but his adjusted metrics still paint a rosy picture for the 23-year-old.
One of the things that make Rodgers exciting is his fairly low strikeout rate. He has struck out more than 20 percent in only three of his minor league campaigns. One of those was his brief 2018 stop in Triple-A. Rodgers has done a good job making contact otherwise. He has also paired good strikeout rates with walk rates that typically sit between two and nine percent. The average MLB walk rate in 2019 was roughly 8.5 percent so Rodgers should be capable of sticking right around that mark.
Rodgers was not having a great spring before MLB shut down operations over the current pandemic. He was hitting just .222/275/250 in 36 plate appearances. Rodgers wasn’t going to crack the opening day roster with those numbers regardless of how meaningless spring stats are. He would have started in Albuquerque again but would be the top call-up option should either Story or another middle infielder suffer an injury.
What Makes Rodgers a Top Prospect
Rodgers has one of the more solid and consistent bats you’ll find among middle infield prospects. His minor league stats indicate a hitter with a great feel for what he is doing after he has some exposure to the pitching at that particular level. It takes an above-average talent to have a wRC+ consistently above 100 regardless of how friendly his minor league park might be. He has a tendency to pull the ball with a career pull rate around 45 percent but Rodgers should be fine when it comes to putting the ball in play against shifting infield defenses. There is also above-average power in his swing but it’s not what makes Rodgers such a threat at the plate.
He was drafted as a shortstop and he is probably fluid enough to stick if there was a need for him there. However, the Rockies have Story in that spot as one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball right now. That pushes Rodgers over to second base where he needs to learn some aspect of the position. His footwork and throwing action on the pivot will need attention in Albuquerque. Spending some more time at the position will help ease the transition when he returns to the majors in 2020. Rodgers had a rough 2019 debut at the plate but he has started slowly at every level before producing the numbers that have pushed him up the organizational ladder. Improving defense plus his bat skills could make Rodgers one of the better hitting second basemen in the majors.
What to Expect from Rodgers in 2020
The Rockies’ middle infield is mostly set when baseball resumes. Story is entrenched at shortstop and a combination of Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson will initially handle second base. Rodgers will have a difficult time breaking through without an injury. He will start the year in Albuquerque once more until an opportunity arises for him to serve the Rockies.
However, there are two situations where Rodgers might be promoted without an injury. The Rockies might move Hampson to center field depending and shuffle things to create an opening for Rodgers. They also might end up trading the first baseman, Daniel Murphy. That could shift McMahon over to platoon with Josh Fuentes and give Rodgers a chance to start at second.
Rodgers has one of the highest ceilings of any infield prospect. MLB.com has him as the 29th best prospect and FanGraphs rates him 31st. However, Colorado is notoriously slow when it comes to promoting position players. Something will have to give in terms of either health or production for Rodgers to be much of a factor in 2020. His worst-case scenario is most of a season crushing AAA pitching before making a run at opening day for 2021.
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