Prospect Spotlight: Endy Rodriguez, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
What if I told you there was a position player that started out in single A and finished the year in AAA with a 1.208 OPS through six games? Now, imagine that this player`s primary position is catcher but can also play second base and outfield in a pinch. The player I`m describing is none other than Endy Rodriguez, who exploded onto the prospect scene this year by beginning the year hitting and not stopping until the final out was called on the season.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a young teenager by the Mets, Endy spent three years with the organization before being part of a three-team trade between the Pirates, Mets, and Padres that included the Pirates shipping off burgeoning star Joe Musgrove to the Padres that ultimately ended with Rodriguez as part of the Pirates. Rodriguez will never be mistaken for a gold glove defender at any position, let alone catcher but he is competent at donning the tools of ignorance and I believe there is a chance he sticks enough at catcher to maintain eligibility at the position on most sites (kind of in the Daulton Varsho mold). His secondary positions are more up in the air, as he spent all of `22 logging innings at mainly catcher while only playing second base sporadically and first base and outfield only a handful of times.
Rodriguez is a switch hitter and is able to use all 170 pounds of his six-foot frame to turn on pitches that allowed his SLG to never dip below .544 the entire season and through three levels, in fact, his lowest SLG of the season was when he began the season in the Sally league. He seems to have unlocked his potential this year by making a stance correction where he is more upright than he used to be allowing for a simpler approach to the ball. His swing plane suggests a flyball profile as most of the balls he hits are in the air. Rodriguez can consistently work the count and boasts a walk rate of no lower than 11% in any professional season to date.
In a perfect world, Endy would be able to start the season gazing out over the Clemente wall as the Pirate’s starting catcher. Unfortunately, this life is not perfect, and Endy Rodriguez is part of the Pittsburgh Pirates, managed by Ben Cherington and owned by Bob Nutting who has shown a history of service time manipulation (Hello, Oneil Cruz.) My best guess is Endy showing up sometime in June when the Pirates are completely out of contention. There`s not much doubt that he will hit when he arrives in Pittsburgh but there is the question of if he sticks behind the plate or not (especially once Henry Davis is up.) But whether he stays full-time behind the plate or is more of a utility man that will play most days his bat will be what carries his play and other than a short track record of success there is very little not to like about Endy`s game.