Colorado Rockies Prospect Countdown – #1: Brendan Rodgers
We’ve reached the 10th and final day of our Colorado Rockies prospect countdown, and we’re finishing it off with a look at one of the most promising young players in the minor leagues today.
Here’s a quick recap of the list, with links to each player’s breakdown:
- 10: Antonio Senzatela
- 9: Ryan McMahon
- 8: Kyle Freeland
- 7: Tom Murphy
- 6: Ryan Castellani
- 5: German Marquez
- 4: Raimel Tapia
- 3: Jeff Hoffman
- 2: Riley Pint
And taking the top spot…
#1: Brendan Rodgers
Position: Shortstop? (More on this in a minute)
Age: 20 (August 9th, 1996)
Height/Weight: 6’0″, 180 lbs
Highest Level Reached: A (Asheville)
Estimated Big League Arrival: 2019
One Sentence Summary: There are no sure things with prospects, but Rodgers’ versatile, polished game should make him about the closest thing to a sure thing as you’ll get from a guy who was a teenager less than a year ago.
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A decade from now, there’s going to be a fun debate about the first three picks of the 2015 MLB Draft. The Arizona Diamondbacks took Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson first overall (he’s since been traded to Atlanta). The Houston Astros went second and selected another shortstop, Alex Bregman from LSU.
And while Swanson and Bregman both reached the major leagues last season, there are some scouts who believe that the most talented shortstop of the 2015 draft class was actually Rodgers, whom the Rockies selected third overall.
The first thing that catches your attention with Rodgers is the advanced offensive approach. His ability to hit to all fields with power is something you rarely see from a player so young. The first home run of Rodgers’ professional career came on an outside fastball that drove the opposite way over the right-center field fence. There are major league hitters that can’t do what Rodgers did here, and he was 18 at the time.
Rodgers spent all of 2016 in A-Ball with Asheville, and he put up an AVG/OBP/OPS slash line of .281/.342/.821. It would be exciting if a corner outfielder put up those kind of numbers, but a shortstop who was 19 for most of the season? Well, there’s a reason Rodgers made the Class-A All Star team and was named the league’s Most Outstanding Major League Prospect.
If all Rodgers had to offer was his bat, he would still be an intriguing prospect. But what makes him truly special is that he offers all of his offensive gifts while playing the game’s second-toughest defensive position (behind only catchers).
While no one is projecting Gold Gloves in his future, a lot of scouts believe that Rodgers would be at least decent at shortstop. His body is likely still going to change over the next few years and that could change, but at the moment, he seems capable of filling the position. Fangraphs describes his defense like this,
"“Rodgers doesn’t have spectacular range but his hands and actions are worthy of shortstop, and he has an above-average arm. He projects as an average defender at short. There’s a decent chance he fills out, slows down, and moves to second or third base where he could be a 55 or 60 defender.”"
If you were paying attention at the top, you may have noticed a question mark next to Rodgers position. That’s because even though some believe Rodgers could play shortstop in the major leagues, it seems more likely that he’ll end up playing a different position by the time he arrives in Denver.
It’s probably safe to say that Trevor Story firmly established himself as the starting shortstop in Colorado with his bonkers power production as a rookie. It’s even safer to say that as long as Nolan Arenado is wearing a Rockies jersey, he’ll be their starting third baseman.
That leaves second base. Colorado has a solid option right now in DJ LeMahieu, but he’s scheduled to become a free agent following the 2018 season. If Rodgers continues to play well in the minor leagues, the Rockies could let LeMahieu walk in free agency and get a compensatory draft pick while replacing him with a younger, cheaper (and possibly even better) player.
It seems like Colorado is already preparing for this possibility. After playing only shortstop in 2015, Rodgers started 24 games at second base in 2016. Rodgers is already a decent defender as a shortstop, but he would be well above-average as a second baseman. Add that in to the sterling offensive profile, and you could be looking at one of the best second baseman in all of baseball come 2020.
Next: Rockies Projected to Miss Playoffs in 2017
Things can change between now and then obviously, and the Rockies may decide on a different solution. But if Rodgers continues to play the way he has so far in his young career, he’s going to force Colorado to find a spot for him, one way or another.