Triple-A - Catcher Endy Rodriguez
Acquired in the 2020-2021 offseason, Endy Rodriguez was part of the Joe Musgrove deal. Since the Pirates acquired Rodriguez, he’s pieced together two terrific seasons, going from Bradenton in 2021 all the way to making his Triple-A debut last season. Now, he enters the 2023 season as one of baseball’s premier prospects and will look to make an impact sometime in ‘23.
Last season, Rodriguez collected a total of 531 plate appearances across three levels of the minor leagues. In total, he slashed .323/.407/.590 with a .434 wOBA, and 166 wRC+. This follows a season in which he posted a .892 OPS, .410 wOBA, and 140 wRC+ at Low-A in 2021. With an 11.3% walk rate and 19% strikeout rate this past season, it marks the fourth year in a row the switch-hitting backstop has struck out in less than 20% of his plate appearances and has drawn a walk in at least 10% of his trips to the dish.
A 166 wRC+ is insanely good. But his season numbers, despite how good they were, under-appreciate his season as a whole. After a poor April, Rodriguez immediately got things back on track, posting a 1.061 OPS, .458 wOBA, and 182 wRC+ for the rest of the season. Rodriguez went on a Barry Bonds-like tear in the second half with a 221 wRC+ and wOBA well above .500 at .516.
Rodriguez has an elite hit tool, and his power has gotten better each and every year. His .266 isolated slugging percentage was a career-best. He doesn’t project to be a massive power threat, but a 15-18 home run catcher who provides 35+ doubles is more than enough power to suffice. As a catcher, his defense is more than passable and projects as slightly above average. He might not win any Gold Gloves, but he does not cost the team runs.
Rodriguez is now a consensus top 100 prospect, and FanGraphs goes so far as to rank him as their 33rd-best prospect. Rodriguez should be ready for promotion very soon. While the Pittsburgh Pirates might not start him in the major leagues, look for him to be on the docket for a Major League promotion by the time May rolls around.
Honorable Mentions: Quinn Priester and Nick Gonzales