Heading into spring training, the Colorado Rockies had some huge shoes to fill at second base. After seven seasons, three Gold Gloves, and a batting title, DJ LeMahieu traded in his purple pinstripes for blue ones as he signed with the New York Yankees in the offseason.
DJ LeMahieu‘s departure meant that the Rockies would be forced to hold an open competition to fill that void at second. Joining that competition this spring, was the heralded #1 prospect, Brendan Rodgers.
The 22-year-old and 3rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Rodgers spent most of 2018 tearing up Double-A pitching in Hartford, before injuring his hamstring after being promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Many had hoped Rodgers would take over second and explode onto the scene much like Trevor Story did at shortstop in 2016.
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Instead, that has not been the case. Not that Rodgers has had a bad spring so far, but his competition has been outstanding. To the delight of Bud Black, Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, and Pat Valaika have been the highlight camp.
The trio have combined for 28-for-76 (.368) with 9 home runs, 20 RBIs, and 19 runs scored in early spring action, playing in a variety of positions around the infield and in center for Hampson. This versatility has given Black a variety of options to mix and match the everyday lineup.
As for Rodgers, not making the Opening Day roster is not a bad thing. Starting the season in the minors will allow him to get everyday playing time. More importantly, everyday playing time at second base because it is not his natural position. Due to Story blocking his path to the majors at shortstop, he has had to slide over to the over side of the infield. In four minor league seasons, Rodgers has only played in 58 games at second.
Finally, because of the early success of McMahon, Hampson, and Valaika, the Rockies will have the luxury of calling up Rodgers to majors when they want to, not when they have to. If those three were struggling, pressure for Rodgers to make the club out of camp would only have intensified. Instead he can enjoy spring and focus on getting better without worrying about game results.
Brendan Rodgers will play in Coors Field this season but not as soon as some would like… But as excited as Rockies’ fans are to see their top prospect, a few more months in the minor league will be well worth the wait.