Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at New Prospect Endy Rodriguez
By Noah Wright
One of the few things the Pittsburgh Pirates lacked in their farm system was a good catching prospect. The team hasn’t had a notable young backstop since the likes of Elias Diaz, Tony Sanchez and Reese McGuire in the early to mid 2010s. However, that changed in their most recent trade.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates sent Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres, it was a three team trade that also included the New York Mets. While the Padres sent lefty Joey Lucchesi to the Mets, the Mets sent Endy Rodriguez to the Pirates, making him their first catcher to be one of their top 30 prospects since Diaz.
The Mets signed Rodriguez out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. So far, he has been a very good hitter throughout the minor leagues. The 20-year-old has accumulated 265 plate appearances with the Mets’ Dominican Summer League and their Rookie Ball affiliates.
In those 265 PAs, Rodriguez has hit .276/.389/.452 with 4 home runs, 20 doubles and .337 wOBA. Rodriguez has shown a good ability to get on base and hit for contact. The switch hitter has only struck out 16.6% of the time while putting up a 13.2% walk rate. While he’s not a big home run hitter, Rodriguez averaged 37 doubles in 500 plate appearances and had an above average .176 isolated slugging percentage.
Much of Endy’s offensive production came in 2019. Rodriguez split the year between the Dominican Summer League and Rookie-Ball. He stepped to the plate 124 times, collecting 30 hits, over half of which went for extra bases (14 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs). He also walked 15 times.
According to MLB Pipeline, Rodriguez has better power as a left-handed batter. He’s shown some flashes of decent raw power from that side of the dish and it could eventually translate into game power.
In terms of fielding and defense, Rodiguez brings some defensive versatility. He’s considered a plus defender behind the dish as he has a future fielding grade of 60. He has an average arm for a catcher coming in with a 50-grade on FanGraphs, however it’s quite accurate given he’s gunned down 42% of would-be base runners. Pipeline described him to be “an athletic and agile defender who moves well behind the plate”. While he’s primarily a catcher, Rodriguez also has 100 innings played at first base and 79 innings between both corner outfield spots.
Rodriguez’s best tool, aside from his fielding, is his hit tool that is seen as a future 60-grade. He only has a future game power grade of 40 and future raw power grade of 45, but he averaged 90 MPH off the bat. As stated earlier, his game power could become better over time given he’s shown some potential as a left-handed hitter. While he’s not a fast runner with a future speed grade of just 40 (currently 45), he was successful in all four of his stealing attempts in 2019.
Before the trade, Rodriguez ranked as the Mets’ 14th best prospect on MLB Pipeline and ended 2020 as their 15th best prospect on FanGraphs (now 13th after the Mets traded Andres Gimenez and Josh Wolf to the Cleveland Indians for Francisco Lindor).
Overall, he’s an advanced hitter for his age and his ability to make contact consistently while also being good at drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts. Rodriguez turns 21 in late-May and has an ETA 2023 by both FanGraphs and Pipeline, which isn’t out of the question if he keeps hitting like he has so far. He’s definitely a prospect who could become one of the Pirates’ top 10 in a season or two.