If you cover prospects long enough, you’ll find yourself riding a few roller-coasters. Let me explain. We’re talking about players whose ups and downs are so drastic that it has you constantly re-evaluating their pros and cons. No player over my five years of covering prospects has been quite the ride like Brendan Rodgers. With parts of two seasons in Hartford I got to watch his struggles and successes first hand. So far in 2019 Rodgers is a man possessed. In 35 contests he’s slashing .356/.421/.644 with nine home runs, 34 runs and most impressively, improved strikeout (16.4%) and walk (9.2%) rates. The former number three overall pick is set to make his major league debut tonight versus the Phillies at Citizen Bank Park. Let’s talk a little about Rodgers overall skills and where he fits into the Rockies in the short term.
We ranked Rodgers 25th in our Pre-season Top 100 Prospects and our Fantasy Top 100. I ranked Rodgers as the top overall prospect in my Colorado Rockies Top 30.
Defense (50 Field/55 Throw): Over the course of 30 games I saw Rodgers log time at short, third base, and second base. While he certainly has the ability to make all the throws, his footwork and reads off the bat at times were poor. I wouldn’t refer to him as sure-handed either, though despite not having the softest hands, Rodgers managed to make a majority of routine plays at both short and third base. At second base, where he’s logged a majority of his time in 2019, he projected to provide the most value defensively. While his athleticism is just average at short, it plays up at second, and in my six to seven looks, he showed the ability to easily make the turn on the double play. Rodgers has always shown a ton of zip on his throws from the left-side, but they haven’t always been the most accurate. I do have to admit most of the balls I’ve seen him airmail were from deep in the hole at short or third. I doubt he’ll run into similar issues at the less demanding second. Regardless of warts Rodgers has a solid amount of professional experience at three positions in the infield.
Hit (50 Present/60 Future): I like catching late games in AAA on MiLB.TV, and Rodgers has been a follow in the early going for a few reasons. First and foremost, I’ve seen enough of Rodgers that I feel compelled to follow his development, second I cover the Rockies here at P-Live, and third he’s a Rockies hitter and one that’s close to the majors. We always follow those guys, no? What I’ve observed is a player who’s improved his eye at the plate and ability to stick to with his plan. Often time Rodgers in Hartford would live off of raw ability, swinging at the wrong pitches, and not looking for pitches he could drive. The power at the point of contact is elite, Rodgers hits everything hard and with authority. The problem was he too often got over confident and didn’t take pitchers deep into counts. He did show the ability to make consistent contact, and his plate coverage was rivaled only by Vlad and Miguel Andujar amongst the Eastern League ranks the last half a decade.
Power (50 Present/60 Future): With the displays of strength I witnessed first hand in Hartford, I feel comfortable putting a future 60 grade on Rodgers power. Blessed with quick hands and strong wrists, Rodger pairs bat speed with the strength to drive balls to any part of the park, and he often did, sending some to the deepest caverns of center at Dunkin Donuts Park. His power is predominantly to his pull-side as demonstrated by this spray chart.
Rodgers does make a fair amount of groundball contact, and his rate is actually up this year. His flyball sits right around 30 percent, while his line drive contact is above 25 percent. That tells me Rodgers isn’t trying to lift the ball, but just barrel up and hit it hard. I wouldn’t get too caught up in the data as Rodgers has the raw talent to ambush mistakes and the power to use Coors to his advantage.
Run (50/50): Rodgers is an average runner, with decent awareness on the bases. He was very successful in the first half of last season as a base stealer, going 12-for-15, after just 21 steal attempts across his first 200+ professional games prior to that. While it’s not an aspect we can completely write off, I think Rodgers will likely see limited attempts and likely only steal 6-9 bases annually. Physically he’s the type of build where he should maintain his average running ability into his prime years. In other words, doesn’t seem like the type to bulk up and slow down.
Prediction: I’m not quite sure if this is temporary or permanent. The Rockies seem to view players on a case by case basis. If they feel Rodgers is their best second baseman, it wouldn’t shock me if he steals the job, and forces Ryan McMahon to a part-time role. If the Rockies are concerned with Daniel Murphy, perhaps McMahon will see more time at first with Rodgers getting the majority at second. The other scenario, and this might be exactly how it plays out; Rodgers is insurance for a banged up Trevor Story. He sees a couple of starts while they rest their star shortstop, and then back to putting up video game numbers in Albuquerque goes Rodgers. The more I stew on it the more convinced I am that Rodgers gets a shot for the second base job this season, if not this time the next. Strip it all down, this is a potential impact player on the cusp.