Teams would love to have one strong hitting catching prospect that can stick behind the plate.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have two of them, both Top 100 prospects, and both in the upper levels of the minors.
While Henry Davis has been stealing most of the attention as he tears through Double-A, by his standards Endy Rodriguez has been off to an average start to the season playing in Indianapolis.
He’s missed a little time dealing with a forearm injury, but has since returned to the lineup and behind the plate.
The numbers don’t stand out at first glance: .237/.350/.402, 4 HR, 12 RBI, and his average exit velocity isn’t the prettiest — but you can still see the approach at the plate that made him one of the best prospects in the game.
He’s walked six times in his past four games and has earned free passes more times than he has struck out.
You can never tell whether someone is going to be able to handle major league pitching until they are at the level, but you can get an idea when a player might need to be challenged more based on the level they are at.
The numbers aren’t sticking out, yet, but the tools remain that he could still have success at the next level, even if it takes some time to adjust.
It’s always been the bat that has been intriguing with Rodriguez, but the ability to play behind the plate has added the value he carries as well.
We know about the hitting issues that Austin Hedges is having, that’s nothing new, and none of this should be a surprise. The Pirates brought in Hedges for his defense and leadership with the pitching staff.
Still, getting more offense out of your catcher position would be nice, especially with how the offense has been lately – Wednesday aside.
That’s where things get a little bit interesting. Whether it’s the injury, or something else, the arm just hasn’t been the same last year. The throws haven’t been clean, and a throwing error to third base led to two runners scoring on Wednesday.
After throwing out 31.1% of would-be base stealers last season, that number has been nearly cut in half this year – as he’s caught 4-of-24 (16.67%) in 2023. He’s almost committed as many errors this year (three) as he did all season in 2022 (five), and we are still in May.
Does this mean he is going to have to move off the position in the future? Not necessarily. It’s just that it makes things a little more interesting in where you try and find him playing time once he’s in the majors.
You could stick him behind the plate, and take the hit defensively, relying on a rookie catcher to make up the difference with the bat. Then again, if the Pirates didn’t value defense at the catcher, they wouldn’t have brought in Hedges at $5 million.
Two of the other positions he plays, left field and first base, are covered by Bryan Reynolds and Carlos Santana, respectively. Andrew McCutchen has been the primary DH. That’s a lot of veterans covering positions that would open the door for Endy.
He could rotate through them all, and still get consistent at-bats still, even taking a day or two behind the plate to continue his development there.
Davis has been grabbing a lot of the attention lately, so it’s been easy to overlook Rodriguez, especially when the numbers are as lopsided as they’ve been.
Regardless, Endy hasn’t done anything to change his original path to the majors from the beginning of the season, they just may need to reroute a bit on their way, if anything to protect him from long-term damage to the arm.
PIRATES PROSPECTS DAILY
By Tim Williams
What a great photo of Endy Rodriguez by Ryan Palencer.
Pirates Recap: Pirates Take Out Some Frustrations on Tigers
Prospect Watch: Solid Pitching Around the System; Altoona Breaks Out the Bats
A Familiar System Trend In Quinn Priester’s Start
SONG OF THE DAY
I don’t have the time to scroll through all these comments and it may already be posted. But, Szym had a chat yesterday…
Ben Cherington: Does Henry Davis even need Triple A? At what point does he just head to Pittsburgh.
Dan Szymborski: It’s a bit tricky – I don’t generally like skipping catchers too aggressively, but they can’t play both him and Endy Rodriguez.
Dan Szymborski: And it’s a little awkward to stick him in a non-catcher position in the majors
Dan Szymborski: Unless the Pirates have the guts to bench Santana
Freak out time!!! Davis got pinch hit for in a blowout game in the 7th. There only two possibilities, he’s on his way to Pittsburgh or he’s injured and out for the season. 🤷♂️🤣
But seriously, the announcers mentioned him taking a couple foul balls off his body in the game so probably just icing things down in a blowout
Just happened to have this article recommended by old google.
Endy – .237/.350/.402
Nick – .277/.362/.473
I bet everyone thinks Endy would be higher in at least one category… but no.
Endy IS NOT ready with the bat.
Endy BB 16 K 14
Nick BB 14 K 45
Endy has more walks, don’t know if he’ll get enough at bats this year to catch what Nick already has in strikeouts.
Does a strikeout count for more outs than one?
Kevin Newman had amazingly low K%.
Let’s be real Exit velocity is what matters. Not K%. We’ve won games this year with a single HR.
No, exit velocity is ONE factor among several that matter.
No but you can have quality outs like a sac fly. You should also look at babip,, Endy is about .100 below his average year. Nick is currently
.050 above his average year. Endy also has 1 more homerun than Nick in less at bats. It’s still a fairly small sample for both but if I had to bet, Endy will hit more in line with his career numbers and Nick will regress do to babip unless he starts hitting off speed pitches.
The thing about exit velocity is that you first have to make contact.
Why in the world are you intentionally acting so dumb about this, I don’t get it.
(agree with you on Endy’s bat, fwiw)
I thought Wendy played A good second base but it was not mentioned.???
Thomas harrington needs to move up to greensboro! Everyone’s daily reminder
Endy with a triple in his first at bat. Nick G. another K
Did you watch the “triple” ? When the LF tripped
But that foul ball Nicky had, before his K!! Such exit velocity…
Nope, just had gameday on
2 walks, 0 K’s and a run for Nick G yesterday. Today so far a hit and 1 K. That is lowering his strike-out rate, but not helping his batting average.
OBP of .375 in those games is a nice boost though
On base 4 times in two games with one strike out in the last 2 games probably is a positive sign in his approach.
On base 4 times with 1 K today! Includes his first bomb of the year
Here’s to hoping the injury also explains his terrible contact quality. Remarkable control of the zone, great batted ball distribution, but tons of lazy fly balls so far.
Would make sense to me that forearm saps some power, I would argue that hes hitting fine but not great and i have no qualms with him building momentum in Indy right now
It’s that fine line of concern that this (raw power / strength) was literally the one single subpar tool that could prove to limit his impact potential and rationalization for that subpar tool being caused by injury.
We did this for years with KeBryan before now universally accepting that his swing sucks and injuries had nothing to do with his lack of power.
But they are exactly opposite. Hayes has the power as his exit velos show. Swing sucks so it doesn’t do any good. Endy doesn’t have the power but swing is sweet so he gets the hits anyway due to high line drive rate low ground ball. They are literally the opposite.
And the injuries have nothing to do with either, which is my point.
So…..IMO, this article isn’t even half-baked. Endy will be in Indi until his defense is good enough. Once it is, he comes up and he’s the catcher, period. He shouldn’t need much time assuming he’s healthy. The only question is: Delay or Hedges? Anyways, right now, we can’t hit…..so if this continues another couple weeks…..you can guarantee that if Endy is healthy and hitting better, he’s coming up, and he’s catching. Period. That being said, Delay is good defensively and has been extremely good offensively……..if we cared about offense, he’d be playing at least even time with hedges. Something doesn’t add up. Oh well
Hedges is owed five million, so he is not going anywhere unless he is traded.
Hedges cumulative average over the last 4 years was .171. He is hitting .172 this year. As long as the pitching staff does well,(sadly as it sounds), he is probably doing what the Pirates signed him for.
They signed Hedges knowing at some point Rodriguez would likely take over as the catcher. They did not expect Delay to hit like he has, so when they signed Hedges, it was with the idea that he would not likely be the starter all year. That at some point Hedges would move to a backup role when Rodriguez was ready. Now if Rodriguez starts hitting like last year, they may need to decide on whether to keep Hedges or Delay. Not sure if Delay makes it through waivers this time.
Agree. I know it is a small sample size, but he has been one of the biggest pleasant surprises this year.
Delay that it is.
From a future catching perspective, I am on the job share plan. Braves have done that last year and again this year (when D’Arnaud is healthy). My best laid plans could be Catcher A (assume Endy is the better defender) plays 100 games at catcher, 30 as DH and maybe 20 in RF. Catcher B (Davis) catches the remaining 60, DH 60 and RF 30. This is assuming they are 2 of our best 6-7 bats which quite frankly we need to have happen. I am using RF because right now Jack is looking like a very solid (with extreme hot/cold spells) strong half of a RF platoon both with glove and bat. Our catching job share can slide some what nicely into the other half of the RF platoon. And this is where Delay (hoping he still has options) fits in as well. For a year or two he can be the AAA (40 man rostered) third catcher. I am maybe selling him short but I expect his bat to revert back to his historical record. A final point, I am not a fan of either C playing 1B or 2B as much as I think for 1B I hope we somehow find a thumper and I don’t like the idea of a weird job share at a middle infield spot. I guess I assume if Endy in this case is catching 100 games does his 2B defense really stay sharp and is that as much of a ‘day off’ as RF (my apologies to all you former outfielders).
Carlos Santana has an OPS+ of 95. Do we really need two defense first players at the corners? On the other hand, which catcher loses playing time? Delay has been our best hitter. Do we release Hedges?
Interesting dilemma. But, a good one to have unlike in our OF where we are still searching for a valid RF/CF option.
Man, you guys with Delay. It’s small sample size. He has a large sample of minor league AB’s of being below average. He’s running a .400 babip, when regression to the mean hits, it will hit hard.
Hedges works incredibly well with the staff and plays plus, plus defense.
While you and I know that, can you imagine the PR hit if we sent Delay back to AAA? Most fans aren’t into BABIP and all those other nerdy stats. They just see the BA. And they want Hedges gone yesterday. We have the DH for a reason. So that we don’t have to put up with the pitcher batting. 😂😂
Delay to the Giants for Will Bednar
Is this from your sources? I’d do that without delay.
Why would we want our starting catcher to hit his weight? We all know catchers are not allowed to hit well or throw base runners out at a good clip.
We need a cheerleader behind the plate!
What if your starting catcher weighed 315?
Like Smokey Burgess? 😂😂😂😂😂
I agree for this year but I can see a good path to keeping Delay as the 40 man rostered 3rd catcher (assuming / hoping he still has options). See more in my novelette post.
If you want to speculate, get the facts. Options or no? Bookmark this page:
Cutch and Santana are old, they could certainly use a day off here and there to keep them sharp all season. Personally, I’m not as concerned that Endy isn’t up in Pittsburgh yet, it’s that Davis isn’t in Indy. It’s pretty easy to get both of those guys their 3 games/week behind the plate while adding in some other positions for them to work on in between.
Doesn’t Endy play 2B as well?
Doesn’t everybody on the team play second base?
Lol, I believe that you may be right
I’m not even on the team and I play 2nd base for the organization
Only when they’re not starting in an outfield corner.
Sounds like he is not fully healed from the forearm injury. Were the defensive issues apparent prior to the injury?