After being acquired in the Joe Musgrove trade, Endy Rodriguez quickly established himself as one of the best hitting prospects in the Pirates system.
Not only that, but he was one of the best hitting in the Florida State League (then called Low-A Southeast), helping lead the Bradenton Marauders to the division title.
The most impressive part was his ability to balance handling a pitching staff and still be able to be as good as he was at the plate.
That’s one of the caveats of developing catchers. With so much to worry about, sometimes parts of your game can suffer. In those times, it may seem that a player is stagnant, but really it’s about finding balance.
Rodriguez was one of four catchers to make the opening day roster with Greensboro, along with 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis, Abrahan Gutierrez, and Eli Wilson. While Davis took the majority of the time behind the plate, the rest were forced to find playing time elsewhere.
Once Davis got promoted, that freed up playing time that Rodriguez and Gutierrez have split for the most part since. I wrote previously about the adjustments the two were going to face being plugged back into their natural position.
Rodriguez didn’t get off to the best of starts this season, striking out a lot more than what he had done previously (31.6 K%), and held a slash of .240/.278/.373 in the month of April.
Ever since the calendar turned over to May, Rodriguez has started to heat up, to the point where he’s starting to be the same hitter he was a year ago.
Since May, Rodriguez has a 145 wRC+ to go along with a .405 wOBA, but maybe the most encouraging part of it all has been the steady decrease in strikeouts as the year as gone on.
After striking out over 30% of the time in April, he did so 24.1% of the time in May, followed by 17.9% since the start of June.
He’s also hit 21 extra-base hits in that span, adding another double on Wednesday.
As for his work behind the plate, Rodriguez continues to show that him receiving playing time elsewhere isn’t an indication of his inability to play catcher. He’s thrown out over 20% of would-be base stealers — an increase from last year — and he’s cut the amount of passed balls down.
While a lot of the numbers in Greensboro have been underwhelming, Rodriguez is starting to move in the right direction. What’s even better is that he’s doing that on both sides of the field. Davis may still be looked at as the catcher of the future because of his draft status, but Endy is continuing to lay the claim to be a legitimate backup plan going forward.
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