The Rockies’ addition of top prospect Brendan Rodgers — No. 1 in Colorado’s system, No. 28 overall — to their big-league roster completes part of a journey that seemed preordained when Rodgers was still just a high school underclassman. As is the case with lots of prominent Floridian high schoolers, Rodgers was evaluated early thanks to the endless parade of both varsity and travel baseball in Florida. Scouts were interested in Rodgers very early, as Kiley noted in his initial 2015 draft rankings.
Rodgers was a standout last summer with scouts saying he’d go in the top 50 picks as a high school junior, then he took a huge step forward this summer when his bat speed and raw power jumped at least a notch, if not two.
Those rankings, which Rodgers topped at the time, were produced after the high school summer showcase season, during which Rodgers looked fine at shortstop and continued to perform against the best pitching in the country. There were tepid evaluations of his defense and some concerns, from model-driven clubs, regarding his advanced age. But Rodgers’ offensive consistency and mix of physical talents (he had among the best raw power in the class at the time) overrode those notions.
When draft day arrived, Rodgers ranked No. 2 on the FanGraphs draft board. The Rockies drafted him No. 3 overall.
In a 2018 interview with David Laurila, Rodgers noted that the Rockies let him continue doing the things that made him a successful hitter in high school.
Mechanically, Rodgers sticks with what he was taught “when he was younger.” He told me that the Rockies haven’t suggested any notable tweaks, and that for him “it’s all about being on time and in rhythm.”
Simplicity and a Laissez-faire approach to Rodgers’ offensive development seem to have worked. He’s a career .296/.353/.505 hitter in the minor leagues and he’s hit about 18 homers during each of his full pro seasons. He has been the top-ranked prospect in the Rockies system every year since they drafted him. The scouting reports read like this one from the Rockies list published in the fall of 2016.
Though he doesn’t have any elite tools, Rodgers’ hit/power combination and potential to play the end-all-be-all of defensive positions makes him not only the best prospect in this system but one of the better ones in all of baseball. He has plus bat speed, barrel control, a casual but effective weight transfer, strong wrists and a bat path conducive both to contact and power. He’s also shown the ability to stay back on breaking balls. The only consistent issue Rodgers has displayed is dealing with offspeed stuff on the outer half. He has a tendency to pull off toward third base and miss sliders and changeups that break away from him, leading some scouts to question his plate coverage. He has the physical ability to be a plus hitter if he can correct that issue.
At times, pro scouts have been concered about his conditoning/agility and how it might impact his defense. Here’s another excerpt from that Rockies list.
Defensively, 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. Scouts who saw Rodgers in pro ball after he signed last year thought this was quite likely but Rodgers’ body was much better in 2016 and he’s instilled confidence in onlookers that he can remain at short for quite a while. He did see considerable time at second base in 2016.
Indeed, Rodgers has slowly seen more and more time at third and, most often in 2019, second base, though Trevor Story’s presence at shortstop has probably played a role in that transition. He was off to a characteristically strong start at Triple-A — .356/.421/.644 with a .380 BABIP — before he got the call. He’s a proactive swinger likely to run below-average walk rates, and this trait may be exploited early during Rodgers career. But he’s been a successful hitter every year for the past five years, so it’s logical that he’d continue to be good against big-league pitching, if not right away then soon. He’s a potential All-Star middle-infielder and should be a Rockies franchise cornerstone.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.