Williams: Endy Rodriguez, Henry Davis, and the Pirates’ Catcher of the Future

What makes a player ready for the Major Leagues?

Is it shown in the numbers, where results are an indicator of talent? Is it through the eye test of that talent? Is it a mindset?

I’ve always had an exceptional ability at spotting Major League talent on the field. I can tell you that I’ve seen this from Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis. But what will make each player a Major Leaguer? Ideally, one who can catch for the Pirates?


I had a chance to see Endy Rodriguez live in Altoona last year, and came away thinking he was the best prospect in the Pirates’ system. His focus is off the charts, with catching movements that seem to come second nature, and an incredible ability to track the ball at the plate.

The big concern that I’ve had about Rodriguez since that article has been sustainability. I saw him during one of the hottest stretches of his career. I also saw that he was perhaps relying on his active focus a bit too much. That’s a difficult concept to describe, and I’m actually going to dig into it during the next section.

What I will say about Rodriguez is that he has looked like the best catching prospect, with tools that are ahead of Davis, and a more natural feel for the position. Offensively, Rodriguez hasn’t repeated his success from last year, but is still hitting for a .737 OPS.


The Pirates just promoted Davis to Indianapolis, after starting him in Altoona to get plenty of playing time behind the plate. The focus for Davis was on his defense, locking down scouting reports, working on relationships with pitchers and staff, and trying to make everything more simple behind the plate.

“Simplifying everything,” said Pirates farm director John Baker, “So that it’s just easy for him to repeat it over and over again, so he doesn’t use a ton of energy so that he can have all that energy when he’s hitting.”

Pause for a second. Remember the comment about Endy’s focus from above?

Baker’s words highlight the exact issue: How much energy is being exerted. The skills from Rodriguez last year made him look like a Major League talent. It seemed unsustainable that he would be able to match that production without burning himself out on one side of the ball. Rodriguez made some huge strides behind the plate last year, but he was mostly in active focus mode during the process. That burns a ton of energy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why we’re seeing his offense dip at a higher level. It’s difficult to maintain such an active level of focus the entire game.

Davis, on the other hand, is behind Rodriguez from a skills standpoint. I would call Rodriguez a future MLB catcher based on skill alone. Davis could develop into a future MLB catcher. If the Pirates want Davis up in the majors this year, the more likely approach would be right field. I saw Davis in right field while in Altoona. He moved well, and navigated plays close to the wall with no issues. The Pirates could speed his bat up by moving him to the outfield, but the long-term dream is having Davis involved behind the plate.

“He just seems to be every time out a little bit better than he was before,” said Baker when I talked with him last month. “You know, sometimes it takes people a long time to develop into a really good catcher, you think about some of the timelines that guys had even super defensive prospects coming through systems. There’s just a lot to learn.”

Davis was in Altoona to help speed up his timeline by getting plenty of time behind the plate. He didn’t have many issues with the bat, hitting for a .980 OPS and ten homers. When I focused on the Altoona hitters last month, Davis was one of the more visually confident players at the plate.

A lot of the reports out of Altoona say that Davis made strides with his defense. I didn’t see him live in Altoona like I did with Rodriguez. I do wonder whether Davis might see his offensive numbers dip at the higher level, similar to Rodriguez, now that he has to focus on facing more advanced pitching, in addition to managing more advanced pitchers.


If I were to make a prediction right now, Endy Rodriguez would be my pick for the Pirates’ catcher of the future. I’m not ruling out Davis, and I’m sure the Pirates will give him opportunities. Right field seems like a better fit for Davis, both in terms of getting him to the majors quicker, and maximizing his value.

Pirates fans are going to want to see one of these guys in the majors this summer. The Super Two topic clouds the discussions, and Ethan Hullihen did a great job breaking down the “deadline” related to that. According to Ethan’s numbers, if Super Two is the only factor keeping Rodriguez down right now, then we should see him in the next week.

What we tend to lose during this time period is the key difference between Major League talent and Major Leaguers.

Rodriguez has Major League talent. He has that at the plate and behind the plate. Davis absolutely has Major League talent at the plate. Being a Major Leaguer is more about experience and consistency.

This is where the Super Two debate gets frustrating. Very few prospects arrive with little to work on. The idea that Endy Rodriguez can come up and instantly be one of the best players on the team is an idea that exists in statistical based simulations and dreams of Pirates fans. It’s possible, but not probable. The same goes for Davis, Quinn Priester, and any other prospect expected to help this year. They could help, but no one should be counting on that help.

Currently, I’m not sure that the Pirates would see an upgrade from either of their catching prospects, considering their value system. The team values the veteran leadership from Austin Hedges, and the impact that has on the pitchers. Hedges will no doubt be guiding Rodriguez when he arrives. Prior to that, Jason Delay is having a great season, doing everything you’d hope for from Rodriguez.

Rodriguez can play second base, where the Pirates don’t have a set starter. Davis can play right field, where the Pirates don’t have a set starter. They could get either player into the majors without making them a dedicated catcher. I’m guessing we’ll get a preview this week of how that playing time might be divided up.

The Pirates have a winning record in early June, and they’ve got two prospects with Major League talent at the top level of the minors. I think it could backfire if the Pirates turned to either rookie over Hedges to handle the bulk of the 2023 catching duties. The versatility from each prospect could allow the Pirates to get them some MLB experience while easing them into MLB catching experience each week.

You’d like to see these guys help out in Pittsburgh in 2023, and I think that’s possible for each player outside of the catching position. What you really want to see is one of these two emerging as the catcher for 2024 and beyond. Ideally, both of them can be Major League catchers, and the Pirates can get creative with their catching role for a long time.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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not avail

Gutierrez deserves a mention. He’d be the top catching prospect in most team’s systems.


I hope they’re smart enough to put him on the 40 man after the season.


Right now, assuming no injuries or really bad performances, seems straightforward that Endy moves up in the next 4 weeks and one of Mathias/Delay/Palacios gets optioned down AAA. Endy can then play catcher or other positions part-time without a lot of pressure to be the man at any position. When Davis is ready, and assuming Endy is handling back-up catching duty ok, then another of Delay/Mathias/Palacios is optioned down. Then when Cruz is ready, the last of the Delay/Mathias/Palacios trio gets optioned.  As for how much playing time Endy or Davis see, hopefully their bats will be so good that they get a lot of playing time, if not, then others should get playing time ahead of them, it is the big leagues.


I’ve been lucky enough to be in Indy for the week. I have seen the last 4 games. Endy has such a smooth swing and I love how the ball comes off his bat. He seems to gel with pitchers very well. He might be the best all around player in the Pirates organization.

All that being said, no team that is playing well should send down a .310 hitter that has been in the majors all year for a guy that is hitting .247 in the minors. Let Endy heat up first, then make a smart move.

not avail

I’m good with letting Endy marinate in AAA for a while. Endy’s numbers have looked rough since his late-season injury last year. He looked awful in winter ball. He hasn’t looked great this year, although he was starting to heat up a bit up until these last two games.

Davis, OTOH, has just looked MLB-ready as a hitter.


I spent the first week of June watching six games in Indy. Endy looks so smooth at the plate and major league ready, in my opinion. Then he’ll drop an 0 for 4 and an 0 for 5 and he is hitting below .250. I like that he is playing once or twice a week at first now and that they are playing Henry Davis in the outfield some. I think it will work in the majors. I agree with you that there is no need to rush him,

not avail

Given they may both lose the C job to Gutierrez . . . versatility is a virtue.



Endy can pretty uch do whatever he wants with the bat

Sharpest eye for the zone, he’s won 9 of 10 challenges

He’s comfortable hitting balls outside the zone by 2 inches on each side

I just hope they let him. If they play him one day and off the next two
If they bat mathias behind him like Indy or Conner joe or Castro when a RH is throwing. They will not pitch to Endy

Shelty batted every Catcher behind Suwinski last year along with every b/u infielder, they sent him down while leading all rookies in HR and Outfield assists. sabatoged his ROY chances


All but 3 of Jack’s 19 HR were at home. He had a 4-37 month of July before being sent down with a OPS of .493. He needed sent back as he stopped hitting for the month. As for his whole year, besides his HR totals, his away spits were horrendous. In 2022 here had a .282 BA at home and .112 away. OPS home was .982 away was .395. Only 6 more games played at home than away so pretty comparable sample sizes. No way Jack wins the ROY ahead of either Harris or Strider, just like @ArkyWags said.


Splits have nothing to do with ROY, especially H/A

Besides that sure leveled out this year and so did his BaBIP;,
which was .240 last season and microscopic in July
because 11K and 6 W and 1 week 0-20

You need to go back and check july, they used week slump to cover service time, if they sent him down for conctact, why did they bring back when his contact was hideous 42% at AAA

Doesn’t add up but please fact check


From June 10 to July 14, his month+ prior to his demotion, he had a stat line of .155/.287/369 for an OPS of .656. Most of his damage was done in 3 home games against the Giants Brewers, and the Yanks. Went 7-12 with 5 of his 6 home runs and only 1 SO. The other 32 games he went 9/90 1 HR and 40 SO., That is a pretty good slump. Even if he stayed up and hit 5-7 more HR (estimate based on the period prior to the option and the period afterwards, he still does not come close to beating Harris or Strider for ROY. Can’t answer why the recall when they did. Can’t remember circumstances due to trades, releases and injures at the time.


I think Jack not being as good as Harris or Strider effected his ROY chances more than whatever it is you’re implying did.


First it meant more to me at the time of the send down
During JS smashing HR’s from May 9th to July 5th
56 days and 14 bombs later,I had found a line +8800 ROY
against my better judgement and some in the organization’ i made the bet anyway knowing service time was a ?
there was talk could be a 1 day service time issue.
jS was never supposed stay, so they paid no attention, who would of thought

Jacks July was not as bad as they made it out to be
In fact, why would they bring him back from indy where he was fanning 42% as compared t0 30%, he got worse

Also, his batted balls in play for season .240, it was under .100 in July’s 10 Starts

Strider didn’t start a game until May 30
Strider didn’t have a quality start until almost July

Pitched good, just couldn’t finish the 6th until half the year was gone

Harris had a July like his season this year, aweful

Those guys at that time had worse odds as js climed in the top 5

In the end Jack was not better than those guys, but he was at the time of the demotion

What a difference a year makes
Harris is almost unplayable and JS is showing a new levvel


Double like.


Lets not get ahead of ourselves. the team is doing well with what they currently have. Sure they could be improved upon but lets wait and see what is in store for Endy and Davis.


I think an unrelated but important discussion for the team to have is how did they miss so badly on Delay. With the lack of quality MLB catching how do you misjudge talent so severely at that position? He was about to pursue his post baseball life when finally given a shot.


Jacob Stallings, f’rinstance


Delay was the best of the worst

No one mentioned E DIAZ



As soon as Diaz got his shot in place of Cervelli, the BA and OPS both too nose dives, his CS rate went down and is E went up. Remembering back, not a whole lot of people were upset when he Bucs let Elias walk.


I wasn’t one of them\

Regime was hideous at that time, Diaz could have been
Roy Camp and they would have non tendered him

The day or two between trading Stallings and signing Perez, the Pirates didn’t have a player in the entire ORG with one inning of MLB exp, just like our LH PEN


I was surprised as well by Diaz being let go but for Stallings, it appears it was the right move when Miami offered what they did for Stallings as Stallings would be DFA’d most likely by now if he had stayed considering how much his game suddenly cratered.


They did not really miss on him. His career minors BA was .226 and a .625 OPS. He got a chance like Stallings did because of injury. Stallings performed well under the circumstances and then plummeted after being traded to Miami. From what I heard, Stallings defense/framing regressed as well since traded. These guys are not anywhere near the class of Endy or Hank and Gutierrez has the potential to be better than Delay or Stallings ever was.


But I am not talking about as a top tier prospect or MLB player. Look around MLB and you will see many catchers on rosters that don’t provide what Delay does. Delay only had 845 plate appearances in 5 minor league seasons so yes, I’d say they missed and didn’t give him development opportunities. That’s only 169 per year and I don’t recall anyone blocking him of note since 2017 when he was drafted until Henry was drafted. By then he was in AAA. Again, I am not claiming that he was ever the answer but he certainly seems to have the skills of a competent number 2 which we and many other teams have lacked.


Delay will be gone anyway with Endy and Hank in the Show and
Gutierrez will be waiting to fill for injury in Indy next season.


Not how you manage assets and they didn’t’ know where they were at the position until binge of trades and drafting of Catchers. He still should be on the roster as a backup, especially with the versatility that Davis and endy Offer, you can go with 3 easily.


Depends on what someone may offer for Delay. If they get an offer that is solid, I would take it. if not, and he can get optioned, I would do it. I do not know if he has an option year remaining. If not, I say keep all 3 on the roster as long as you can but he will most likely get DFAd like he did last offseason for the 40 man spot.


… or Jacob Stallings!


I think this is an overlooked point: “Jason Delay is having a great season, doing everything you’d hope for from Rodriguez.”

Last year we were 7 games back. We are now tied in loss column for first place, after 58 games. Everyone is in a hurry to trade or option Delay — he is 6th on the team WAR. There also have been recent posts about who we are flipping at the trade deadline. We are so accustomed to sucking that our entire cultural outlook is premised on looking towards tomorrow , not to catch lightning in a bottle and winning today 💪

Last edited 3 months ago by Cobra
not avail

They need to cut Hedges. It’s that simple.


Delay has hit for a .200 average and a .450 OPS since May 1. (Hedges is .200/.455). Delay should not be blocking Endy.


Jason Delay is a nice story and a solid little player, but regression to the mean will hit and it’ll probably hit him hard. He’s carrying over .400 babip.

If and when Endy and/or Davis get called up, Delay should get optioned to Indy. Hedges can’t hit his weight but is incredibly valuable with his defense and handling a staff. A lot of people don’t believe in those things because they can’t see it.


Even if he regressed to a 225 BA, that is nothing to sneeze at as a back up catcher with good receiving skills.


Agreed. Pretty good third-string C that you can stash in Indy.


Yes, I would amend my earlier comment to Gutierrez or Delay, not just Gutierrez.


Though it’s a different time, primarily because of the DH and the number of pitchers on MLB rosters, the 1960 World series participants each carried three catchers. All six had roles they successfully filled. Similarly, and primarily because of Endy and Henry’s hitting and position versatility, there’s no reason the Pirates can’t include Gutierrez in a unique and effective catching rotation. Yogi Berra and his childhood friend, Joe Garagiola, often called catching gear “the tools of ignorance” because catching is physically difficult and exhausting. Three players sharing the catching duties could be a huge advantage for the Pirates and limiting time behind the plate for all these young men could keep them fresher and extend their careers. 


Best article I’ve read on this site in months. This is why we need you hear Tim, thanks!


I’ve long held the position that Endy is our future catcher and Davis our future 1bman or RFer,


I remember reading the Yogi Berra biography and when the Yankees first moved Yogi from the outfield to behind the plate he stunk up the joint. It took him some time to adjust. I think that probably will also apply to Rodriguez and Davis when they get called up. It’s a different scenario but it’s a big jump to the major leagues when you’re behind the plate.


I posted in the Hank promotion article the proposal of a job share which you hint at saying Pirates could be creative with the catching role for a long time. I’ll stick by my post. I’ll add Tim’s points about assuming immediate impact are spot on, so I’ll say this is probably more of a 2025 view with some growing pains coming in 2024. Net – Endy catches 100 games and Hank 60 and they each start about 150 games using their flexibility for other positions or use as a DH. If Jack continues to be a good strong side platoon in RF, the Endy/Hank combo sure fits nicely as the other half of that platoon when they are not catching. But I’ll repeat what I said there, if we get too anxious for Hank’s bat (which is natural with a real shortage of RH outfielders), then we really risk him not getting good enough behind the plate – he still needs reps!!

Wilbur Miller

Not to be overlooked—Abrahan Gutierrez deserved to open at Altoona, so hopefully he moves up. And Wyatt Hendrie has done well at GBO—.809 OPS in 14 G. He needs to play every day. You always need moar catchurzz.

Wilbur Miller

Bob and his minions need to get to work. Keller and Bednar for starters.


Keller should be signed sealed and delivered
just like BRey, never have another opportunity to sign a
high end value player
Kid should be 9-1, 2nd in K’s and carried the team thru May

Arbitration value goes up every 5 days.
Lets go Ben don’t let this number get out of hand


Depends on what Keller wants to do. I hope he will be like B Rey and want top stay here, where he will not have just about every pitch dissected like would happen if he chased really huge money and go for a very large market like NY or LA. If he really wants to test FA, the Bucs will never be able to sign him.


The Keller’s love it here, I know everyone says that and they have to say the right thing

But Mitch isn’t going anywhere, he and his entire family are way to attached to this city

Moreover he talks in a way he feels like he owes them for sticking with him thru some really bad pitching

In fact after being removed from the rotation, and then getting pummeled out of the pen, heard him say
“I thought I was getting released for sure, there was no doubt, it was that bad at least in my eyes”

Dewey Robinson SAPD showed him how to control his sinker that he bailed on years before saying “i couldn’t control it and i didn’t want to hurt anyone”

Really good dude , i’m so happy for him

they show the interview during rain delays, def a good watch


Not disputing what you are saying. However, we just don’t know what they want. If it is exactly what you are saying, you are right, they should stay here and the deal will get done eventually like Reynolds got his deal. If he really does want a big deal and wants to test the market, the Bucs will not be able to keep him.

Bednar is even more tied to the area. His wife is from Mars too. His wife played club soccer for the same Club as my youngest. Will come down to what the Bednars are looking for in a offer to extend long term and not hit the market as well. You know the Benars really would love to stay too. In both situations it still will come down to how much it will take both to not test the waters and sign long term to stay. Really rooting for both to get extended.


You don’t live in Pittsburgh


LOL! have lived here except for being banished to Buckeye Hell for a couple of years in the mid 80s. In my 60s now. There is a huge difference in playing in one of the big market cities and the small to mid market cities. Keller has a game that he would have a great outings then have 2 like he just had against Seattle and ST Louis, and was pitching in NY, LA, or Philly, they fan base and media would be calling for his head right now instead of people like us hoping he gets extended very soon. As bad as some of the guys on the Fan and Madden can be here in getting the Yinzers wound up, they are still well below what the Media can be like in NY or Philly. Reynolds may have costs himself several million by not hitting the market but he wanted to stay put. I am hoping Mitch and Bednar have the same desire to get a really good deal to stay in the Burgh.

Last edited 3 months ago by robertkasperski
not avail

Let’s see how the next couple of weeks go in Indy.

Endy has been heating up lately at the plate. He had some injury issues toward the end of last season and then looked atrocious in Dominican winter ball. He may just be rounding the corner on the injury.

Davis needs to prove he belongs at the AAA level. Ideally, Davis follows Cruz’s promotion path and looks like a stud in Indy. Still, let’s see some PAs and a bit of work behind the dish.

Also, the injury situation in all of MLB will come into focus over the next couple of weeks. If someone comes knocking on Hedges, Delay, or Santana, the Pirates need to at least think about. As we saw with Vogelbach, you can do some good business in this part of the cycle if you have the right contract to trade.


@not avail

I’m with you on the wait-n-see attitude. One week can sure cause changes especially with catching… I remember a few years ago when we must have had 11 catchers during the year and all of ’em pretty fungible-fuhgeddable.

Having seen Tank, Delay and Endy in Toon-Town, I think I can see an easy and desirable path forward for the Swashbucklers.

THIS year, you’re going to bring up Endy while Tank seasons, giving you a nice three catcher mix where Endy can play 2nd pretty often and still slip into the tools of ignorance once in a while.

Later this year you trade Hedges, since the majority of his $5M will be paid and you get another upside minor league guy who will blossom while nobody is looking.

Jason Delay is a keeper here and he finishes out the season splitting with Endy.

YOU GOTS TA have multiple catchers because the position is so demanding. YA DOESN’T get a Russ Martin every day. And YA FEELS bad when it comes to the Frankie Cervelli concussion issues. SO… having three good catchers makes the Bucklers MUCH better and sustains those players’ health. For a looong time.

Since both Tank and Endy can play well in the field, it is a natural way to deepen the squad.

MINORITY REPORT: Josh Palacios might … just … work. And this fits in nicely with all this catching michigoss. Just lookit all the position switching going on and the defensive matchups right now… Bae at 2nd, no wait, Center. Mike Wazowski at Center, no wait, right. This guy at that place, that guy at this place… Its a goddam pandemic!

I think yer gonna see a true three-headed catcher depending on matchups in the next couple seasons. It’s gonna be fun.

“Oh, carrots are divine.
You get a dozen for a dime.
It’s Maaaaagic!”


not avail

Josh Palaciois working out would be an extreme exception given he’s 27.


Trade/ sell high on Delay; and put Davis behind Hedges at C. But lots of ABs at DH. That does make it tough as to how to deal with Cutch though. Good problems to have though.


Delay has options, as unfair as using them seems to be, that can allow them to not lose him. Even with his offensive output, I don’t see him having enough trade value to lose the current depth. He seems like a great candidate (assuming Hedges is a one year thing), to be that third catcher behind our 2 prospects as they make their way to the majors.


Don’t forget about Gutierrez right behind Endy and Hank coming through the system. Gutierrez should fill the spots left by Hank and Endy as they get promoted and Delay is a good guy to have but if you can get something good for him, Gutierrez is more important to get ready than keeping Delay right now.


Based on the above stated belief that Hedges will be helping mold these guys in the bigs (rather than being DFA’d), I have to wonder who gets demoted/cut when one or both of these guys is called up…. Feels like you can’t demote Jason Delay when he’s hitting .330 and our other catcher is hitting roughly half that number. Doesn’t make much sense to carry 3-4 catchers. Does one of Hedges/Delay get traded? Do they carry both AND Endy and give Endy minimal catching opportunities? Does Davis leapfrog Endy on the depth chart just because the bat stays hot and they play him mostly in RF?
Maybe the thing that makes the most sense is to trade Delay at peak value. I’m sure other front offices aren’t buying into his average as sustainable, but he’s solid defensively and he does have his hot streaks at the plate. I’m sure someone would be interested in a backup catcher with a .330 average. If it got us a mid-level prospect and made room for Endy to start at C with Hedges as a backup who starts twice/week, that might be the best scenario.


Jason Delay is not a true .330 hitter


Agree. Probably a lot closer to .230.

b mcferren

if focus is such a big deal, then wouldnt it be better to stash Tank as the dh instead of right field?

let him sit in the bullpen instead of the dugout when he isnt on deck

could be playing simulated games all day with Meccage

Last edited 3 months ago by b mcferren

Cutch is the DH

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