Of course, Endy Rodriguez is the popular prospect to talk about right now regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rodriguez is coming off an amazing season in which he slashed .323/.407/.590 with a .434 wOBA and 166 wRC+. For the fourth season in a row, he had a walk rate above 10% at 11.3% and a strikeout rate below 20% at 19%. Rodriguez’s second half was a sight to behold, posting a 1.228 OPS, .516 wOBA, and 222 wRC+ through his last 219 trips to the plate. His overall season numbers were bogged down by a poor April. From May through the end of the year, Rodriguez had a 1.061 OPS, .458 wOBA, and 182 wRC+.
2021 first-overall pick Henry Davis was also a quality batter when healthy. He finished the 2022 campaign with a .264/.380/.472 slash line to go with an 8.2% walk rate and 20% K-rate. Power wasn’t an issue for the backstop as he had a .208 ISO. All told, he had a .385 wOBA and 135 wRC+. I wouldn’t be too worried about Davis’ performance at Double-A. He was clearly slowed down by injuries that were no fault of his own. Davis was hit by 20 pitches in just 255 plate appearances. He was the only batter with fewer than 375 plate appearances hit by more than 20 balls in the minor leagues.
Where Davis and Rodriguez play remains to be seen. Rodriguez can play first base, second base, and left field, and Davis started to see some playing time in left field at the end of this year. If the Pirates feel they can keep each other fresh by rotating them at catcher, first base, and designated hitter, that could also be an option. But they could carry a third catcher solely for their defensive work in Jason Delay.
Delay is pretty much a defensive specialist, meaning he doesn’t bring much value as a batter. In 167 plate appearances, Delay batted just .213/.265/.271 with a .243 wOBA and 53 wRC+. Even in a year when catchers had a .663 OPS, .293 wOBA, and 89 wRC+, Delay was a lousy hitter for the worst offensive position on the diamond. But, despite having just 436.2 innings caught, Delay racked up +3 DRS and +3.7 framing runs.