Endy Rodriguez: Toolbelt Runs Deep, Both In The Field And At The Plate

By the time the dust from the Joe Musgrove trade had settled, it turned into a three-team swap between the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, and New York Mets.

The Padres sent left-handed pitcher Joey Lucchesi to the Pirates, who flipped the southpaw to the Mets for catcher Endy Rodriguez.

In total, the Pirates received four players in the trade – Rodriguez, David Bednar, Omar Cruz and Hudson Head. While Bednar paid immediate dividends to the major league club, you can make a case that he didn’t have the best 2021 of the players involved in the trade.

Rodriguez was assigned to the Bradenton Marauders, and in 98 games finished in the top five in almost every offensive category in the Low-A Southeast.

Not only was he the batting average leader (.294), but Rodriguez also finished tops in strikeout percentage, total bases, and extra-base hits. He finished in a tie for third (along with fellow trade-mate Head) in home runs, as well as second in slugging percentage and OPS.

The accolades could go on and on about his success at the plate for the Marauders, but what Rodriguez provided went beyond his offensive production.

Almost anyone will tell you that any talk about moving Rodriguez away from his natural catcher position isn’t because of his inability to play there. In fact, the 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic may be the most well-rounded catcher in the system right now.

First overall pick Henry Davis may have the higher upside due to his arm, but now, you can certainly make a case for Rodriguez may have the edge in most other things behind the plate.

A story of how advanced he is at the position comes up on Fangraphs, talking about how he purposely bounced a throw to second to allow the fielder an extra moment to get set up, still throwing out the baserunner.

Rodriguez’s athleticism is without a doubt his greatest asset, allowing him to play in the outfield, along with first base last year, even taking reps at second base – a position some feel he could thrive in.

Looking at back at his 2021 season, at least at the plate, Rodriguez displayed an amazing approach at the plate for a player his age. His strikeout rate was the lowest among qualified hitters in the division, and he drew walks 11.5% of his plate appearances.

Despite the 46 extra-base hits, he’s still seen has more of contact over power guy long-term, a role that matches his approach at the plate.

Looking back at Bradenton’s opening series against the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, and you can get a good idea at just how versatile hitter Rodriguez is early on in his career.

The first few at-bats shown are from the May 8th game in which Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with two runs driven in. He led off the game with a walk in five pitches, most of which were pitched away.

After flying out in his second at-bat, Rodriguez came up with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and shows quick hands getting in on the pitch and punching it out to center field, scoring two and ending up at second after a throwing error.

Rodriguez strikes out in his next at-bat, but then registers another single, this one going the other way on the first pitch he saw in the eighth inning.

He made great strides in using the entire field in 2021, with his spray chart the most spread out it has been in his entire career. Rodriguez went the other way 32.2% of the time, according to Fangraphs, his highest mark over the course of a full season.

The final at-bat shown shows him perfectly waiting for a breaking ball to come over the plate, hitting a no-doubter home run that the right fielder barely reacted to.

In the next video, it shows Rodriguez’s ability to work a count back into his favor and then him taking advantage after jumping ahead.

The first at-bat Rodriguez is able to climb back after falling behind 1-2, eventually working the count full before finally taking a hanging breaking ball out of the park.

For the second part, Rodriguez does the same, this time to fastball and it came after jumping ahead 2-0 in the count. He worked himself into a fastball situation, and when it came, he delivered.

Rodriguez took advantage of the pitcher’s making mistakes, and it’s something in the lower levels he did well. He didn’t need to have elite patience, he just had to outwait his opponent until they made a mistake.

It will be an interesting year for Rodriguez in 2022, the natural step for him will be Greensboro, a hitter’s haven. Pure stat watching may be misleading for Endy, but that won’t be the thing to watch.

There is a very strong possibility that the Pirates start with three of their top catching prospects at the same level with Rodriguez, Davis, and Abrahan Gutierrez.

One could make the jump straight to Altoona, with Davis being the most likely candidate due to him being the first overall pick and him being an advanced college hitter but if not, it will create a log jam at the position.

Endy’s flexibility will help him get the extra at-bats in but that shouldn’t keep him from continuing development at his best position – catcher, as at the end of the day that’s what makes him such a valuable part of the system.


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Endy Rodriguez: Toolbelt Runs Deep, Both In The Field And At The Plate

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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