Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Endy Rodriguez has been one of the minor league baseball’s best hitters in 2022, but his second half of the campaign so far deserves recognition.
Anyone following the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, or minor league baseball, in general, this year, knows who Endy Rodriguez is. Acquired in the Joe Musgrove trade, Rodriguez made his presence felt in his new organization in 2021 when he put up a .892 OPS, .414 wOBA, and 140 wRC+ for Low-A Bradenton. Those were already great numbers, and he’s only been better in 2022.
Rodriguez is currently rocking a .313/.380/.589 slashline with a .435 wOBA and 167 wRC+. With an 11.7% walk rate and 19.2% strikeout rate, Rodriguez is on pace for his fourth season in a row with a 10%+ walk rate and sub-20% strikeout rate. Rodriguez has hit for his fair share of power this year, blasting off 24 times while having a .270 isolated slugging percentage. Rodriguez has simply been one of the best hitters in MILB. Among all hitters with at least 300 trips to the plate, Rodriguez is 5th in wRC+, 10th in OPS, and 7th in wOBA.
But Rodriguez didn’t start out the season this good. In the first month of 2022, he had just a .652 OPS, .295 wOBA, and 76 wRC+. He was striking out over 30% of the time with a walk rate below 5%. But after that, Rodriguez went on a tear, batting for a .903 OPS, .404 wOBA, and 143 wRC+ from the start of May up until the All-Star Break. Those numbers closely resemble what he did with Bradenton in 2021. However, since the break, very few adjectives can describe just how good Rodriguez has done. The only way you can describe it is early-2000s Barry Bonds-like.
Since the end of the break, Rodriguez has hot for a slash .396/.484/.792 line. He has a wOBA well above .500 at .534 and a wRC+ well above 200 at 234. His isolated slugging is just a few ticks below .400 at .396. He’s also drawn 24 walks with just 23 Ks. He’s being selective at the plate and hitting for insane power. He’s hit 15 home runs in this 184 plate appearance stretch. In 2021, he hit 15 in 434 plate appearances. It’s a small-ish sample size, but that’s a rate of nearly 50 round-trippers in 600 plate appearances.
Saying this stretch is as good as early-2000’s Barry Bonds isn’t hyperbole either. From 2001 to 2004, Bonds posted a 1.368 OPS, .531 wOBA, and 232 wRC+. Rodriguez has a 1.1.276 OPS, .534 wOBA, and 234 wRC+ since the All-Star Break. Of course, you are looking at a sample size of less than 200 plate appearances, but posting a wRC+ that is closer to 250 than 200 in 184 plate appearances is still an extremely impressive feat.
With Rodriguez’s blistering numbers at Double-A, he may just skip Triple-A entirely before making his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. You don’t want to rush him, but he has nothing left to prove in just 126 plate appearances for Altoona. When you hit eight home runs with a slugging percentage greater than 43 qualified players’ OPSs at the major league level in more than 120 trips to the dish, you deserve the recognition, prospect or not.