In many scenarios, some of the questions heading into the 2020 season are the same for the Colorado Rockies as they were exactly one year ago. That includes what could happen with top prospect Brendan Rodgers heading into the campaign.
This time last year, many Colorado Rockies fans were wondering if they would see Rodgers break into the Majors during the 2019 season. His debut came on May 17 in Philadelphia and, over the span of his first two games, Rodgers collected his first Major League hit and RBI.
While Rodgers might have broken into the Majors sooner than some anticipated, the end of his season came sooner than expected as well. His last MLB game came on June 23, finishing off a run where he received just 76 MLB at-bats and posted a .224/.272/.250 slash line with seven RBI and 27 strikeouts.
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On June 25, Rodgers was placed on the injured list with what was initially called a shoulder impingement. On July 16, Rodgers underwent surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder. His season was over and an offseason filled with rehabilitation, recovery and questions lied ahead.
Rodgers was very open and honest about his rehab progress in this interview with The Denver Post. All seems to be moving ahead as it should. However, there are still questions as we draw ever nearer to spring camp.
One of the biggest is the same as it was this time last year. Is there a spot on the team for Rodgers right now where he can get significant at-bats? With Colorado’s infield seemingly set heading into the 2020 season (especially with the solid year put up by Ryan McMahon at second base in 2019 and All-Stars Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story holding down the left side of the infield), is there currently a place on the diamond for the third overall pick in the 2015 draft?
That’s one of the questions I asked Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich during the recent Winter Meetings.
“Let’s see how the shoulder is first. If the shoulder is healthy, I don’t know,” Bridich told me and other media members inside Colorado’s Winter Meetings compound suite. “We have to see and make sure he’s healthy and see him in game action again. This was a legitimate surgery. A serious surgery. We’ll see.
“Usually, the game takes care of that, somehow, some way. With Brendan, it’s first things first.”
Making sure Rodgers isn’t rushed back from his surgery is first and then seeing what he can do on the diamond is second. There is little question that Colorado sees Rodgers as a part of their long-term plans and rushing back one of the key pieces of their future would be foolish when there are plenty of players in the infield who have had a healthy offseason and will be fully ready when the doors open officially in Scottsdale in mid-February.
With Nolan Arenado trade rumors swirling and Trevor Story and the Rockies still working through arbitration, a role with the Rockies could again come sooner than expected this season for the 23-year-old Rodgers. However, we expect most of spring training to be more about his recovery than his chance at breaking camp with the team.
Our prediction? Rodgers plays with the Rockies in 2020 but starts the season at Triple-A.