May 10, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; General view of a Colorado Rockies glove and hat during the seventh inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. The Dodgers defeated the Rockies 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Brendan Rodgers may be the next in a long line of excellent Colorado Rockies power-hitting shortstops.
The Colorado Rockies drafted Brendan Austin Rodgers with the 3rd overall selection in the 2015 draft.
With a trio of elite shortstops available at the top of the 2015 draft, and many thought Rodgers had the most talent of the three, but he was a high school prospect, whereas Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, who went #1 and #2, were college prospects and were likely to move more quickly through the minor league system.
The Colorado Rockies were aggressive with Rodgers, sending him to their advanced rookie team at Grand Junction in the Pioneer League. He hit .273/.340/.420 with 3 home runs, 4 stolen bases, 9.43% walk rate, and 23.27% strikeout rate.
His draft pedigree and solid first season led to very good rankings across the board. He was rated #40 by Baseball America, #12 by MLB Pipeline, and #20 by Baseball Prospectus.
Rodgers jumped up to full season ball with the Rockies low-A South Atlantic League affiliate in Asheville. He hit .281/.342/.480 with 19 home runs and 6 stolen bases. He smacked 31 doubles and posted a 7.13% walk rate and a 19.96% strikeout rate.
Rodgers did play 24 games at second base in 2016 and 56 at shortstop as the Rockies worked to improve his versatility.
Rankers weren’t sure what to do with Rodgers as he moved down in midseason rankings and bounced back some in end-of-season rankings, with BA rating him #16, MLB Pipeline dropping him down to #15, and BP ranking him #11.
I had him at #20 in my top 125 for Call To The Pen that came out back in January.
Rodgers is listed at 6′ and 180 pounds, though I’d imagine that’s more like 190-200 at this point as he’s added build since his drafting.
Contact (55) – Rodgers has an extremely quick bat through the zone and excellent hand-eye coordination that allows him to get to a ton of balls.
He does have a good amount of pre-swing load and backswing at the end of his swing that sometimes leads to his swing getting long and not entering the zone at the right timing to get the best part of the bat on the ball or get it quite square.
That all can certainly come, for sure, but what truly has me at a 55 rather than a full plus grade on his hit is his two-strike approach. I was a bit surprised with his strikeout rate actually decreasing this year when I had watched so much of Rodgers this year and his approach with two strikes was notoriously “grip it and rip it” throughout the at bat, even with two strikes.
Power (60) – Rodgers has added roughly 15 pounds to his frame since he was drafted, and it’s definitely obvious in the way the ball jumps off his bat.
His swing can get long, and he can get pull-happy in his swing, which actually hurts his power at the plate. He has tremendous natural power up the middle and to the opposite field when he utilizes the power in his natural swing.
Eye (55) – As I mentioned before, seeing Rodgers’ hard swings made me surprised that he’d kept his strikeout rate as low as he had, which made me go back to watch him further to see how he was doing it.
Rodgers has tremendous bat speed, and that has allowed him to foul off pitches even with his aggressive approach.
I was impressed with Rodgers’ improved zone recognition from early in the season to the end of the season. It would not surprise me if his walk rate jumps to a double digit rate.
Speed (50) – Rodgers was a tick above average runner at draft time, but his added size has taken away some of that raw speed already.
While he doesn’t have speed to burn or incredible quickness, Rodgers does have excellent instincts on the bases, and he could likely post double-digit steals a few years based on that alone.
Defense (50) – Rodgers’ added size has taken a step away from what was already just above average speed, leaving his range below average at short.
Rodgers does have very smooth actions and solid hands at short, which would make one think that he could handle second base very well with the touch less range required but similar hands required.
Arm (60) – In pure raw arm strength, Rodgers certainly has a plus arm. However, in early season games, he was definitely a guy whose arm strength did not play well due to rushing and what seemed to be pressing on the field to make an impression on the Rockies organization.
During the year, it seemed as if Rodgers eased into the position more and was more confident in his throws, letting his natural arm strength play up.
MLB Player Comp
In watching later season games of Rodgers, I immediately thought of Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. Interestingly, I found that his offensive profile fit quite well with Rodgers as well.
Dozier has a similar build at 6′ and 190 pounds, and he even made it to the major leagues still playing shortstop, but he really blossomed once he was moved to second base, where he’s a very solid second baseman defensively.
Dozier’s big 2016 offensive season will likely make many Rockies fans love this comp, but it’s wise to consider that Dozier has a career .246/.320/.442 line even with his excellent power, but he has added home runs for four straight seasons.
Rodgers isn’t quite the athlete that Dozier is, so Dozier’s three seasons with stolen bases in the teens is likely not going to be something Rodgers offers, but Dozier is a solid base runner, which is something that Rodgers offers currently and could certainly improve upon by the time he reaches the big leagues.
Rodgers will likely open in high-A in 2017, and if he hits well, it’d not be surprising if he was allowed to work up to AA. He will be just 20 for nearly the entire 2017 minor league season, so the Rockies likely won’t rush him.
What will be interesting is what the Colorado Rockies do with Rodgers regarding his position. While he’d likely be a passable shortstop, he’s still just 20 and could certainly add some more size to his frame before he gets to the majors on top of what Rodgers already added since his drafting.