Pittsburgh Pirates catching prospect Endy Rodriguez has nothing left to prove at High-A Greensboro and should be promoted to Double-A Altoona
One of the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects is Endy Rodriguez. After being one of the best batters in the minor league system for the Bucs in 2021, Rodriguez has only further built on his talent this year, putting up even better numbers than before. With Rodriguez now demolishing High-A pitching, now is the best time as ever to get him into action at Double-A Altoona.
After Wednesday night’s 5-for-5 performance, the switch-hitting utility backstop is slashing .305/.397/.553 with a .417 wOBA and 151 wRC+. Those are overall noticable improvements from his 2021 season when he slashed .294/.380/.512 with a .410 wOBA and 140 wRC+. He’s getting on base just slightly more often with more power.
Rodriguez already has 16 home runs in only 363 plate appearances. Last season, he had 15, but in 434 trips to the plate. Rodriguez had a slow start to the season, but since the outset of May, he’s batting an incredible .326/.430/.610, clocking in with a .452 wOBA and 173 wRC+. He’s walked at an impressive 13.7% rate while having a K% of just 17.6%. There have been only 20 seasons where a player had 500+ plate appearances and a 170 or higher wRC+ dating back to 2010 in the MLB, for reference.
If Rodriguez can cut his K% down below 20% and keep a walk rate above 10%, it will be the fifth season in a row he’s been able to do that. He’s on pace to do so, with his strikeout rate in April, May, June, and July steadily decreasing. He went from a 31.6% strikeout rate in April to just 24.1% in May. Throughout the third month of the season, he decreased that even more to 19.4% and, in this past month, cut it down to a mere 12.2% rate.
Rodriguez has been insane since the all-star break. While it is a small sample size of 11 games and 51 plate appearances, Rodriguez has 20 hits, seven of which have left the ballpark. Rodriguez has struck out only three times with ten walks. That’s a BB:K ratio of 3.33. His psychotic numbers throughout this small sample have led to a 321 wRC+, which means he’s 221% better than the league average batter. Heck, since the start of July, he’s been 139% better than the league average batter at his level, coming in with a 239 wRC+.
Double-A Altoona already has a ton of talent, but Rodriguez can play multiple positions. He’s primarily a catcher but has seen an increasing time at second base. Rodriguez has played an ample amount of time in left field throughout his minor league career, as well as first base.
The Pittsburgh Pirates should move first baseman Aaron Shackelford to Triple-A as Mason Martin is struggling mightily with Indy. With Henry Davis hurt, Rodriguez could share playing time with Davis behind the dish, at first base, and as the designated hitter. This way, the Pittsburgh Pirates can ease the first overall pick of the 2021 draft back into action after an unfortunate wrist injury caused by a hit-by-pitch.
Rodriguez has hit 139% better than the league average batter at High-A for over a month now with a 27-game on-base streak. If you want to know just how good that is, Barry Bonds had a 239 wRC+ between 2001 and 2002, for an approximation. Sure, that’s only through one month and a few days, but Rodriguez has nothing left to prove at Greensboro anymore. Even with his slow start to the season, he’s still one of the best batters at his level. Among all High-A batters with 300 or more plate appearances, Rodriguez ranks third in OPS, fourth in wOBA and wRC+, sixth in OBP, and third in slugging percentage.
The switch-hitter could also find regular playing time between catcher, first base, second base, left field, and designated hitter. Altoona could easily make room at any of those positions by moving prospects up the line to Triple-A Indianapolis as well. Rodriguez has done everything possible to earn a promotion to Altoona, and now it’s just a waiting game until he gets the call.