I feel like there is a misconception at times when it comes to what truly makes some baseball players special.
Sure, seeing someone launch a no doubter over the fence is special, and it’s something that should be celebrated, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. What makes a hitter special is the little things, stuff that can often get overlooked, especially scanning the box score at the end of the game.
That’s why I found it fun that the most intriguing of the three hits Endy Rodriguez picked up on Saturday wasn’t the home run, but the hit he picked up in the first inning.
Think sometimes we get caught up in watching home run highlights and forgot what really makes some of these players special. The adjustment he makes in this at-bat, he was early in his swing, slowed down, squared up and punched the ball to center field for a base hit. pic.twitter.com/zB9dWE9Gmo
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 16, 2023
Endy opens up early, almost like he was thinking fastball right out the hand, only to be met with an 81.9 mph changeup. He’s able to adjust and square up and hit the ball to center field.
When it comes to exit velocity, Rodriguez doesn’t actually hit the ball that hard, with an average of just 84 mph through Saturday’s nights game. So it’s not necessarily the power that makes him special, it’s stuff like this.
It shouldn’t be a surprise at his incredible contact rates against breaking and offspeed pitches. This season he’s swung at 43 non-fastballs and has only missed seven times — a remarkable 16.2% whiff rate.
ENDY. 💣 pic.twitter.com/QbTRA8YV6f
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) April 15, 2023
For good measure, he does nearly the same thing with a curveball, but does leave the park this time around. His ability to get around on some of these pitches is exactly why he flew up three levels last year and is knocking on the major league door right now.
By his standards it may be a slow start to the season, but when he’s making these kind of plays, you know it won’t be long till he hits his way out of it.
— Sean Sullivan made his season debut on Saturday, and a high pitch count only allowed him to pitch 2.1 IP, allowing two hits, a walk while striking out three. He had a rough go around in Greensboro in 2022, but has great command on his fastball that could be someone to watch making the move up to Altoona this season.
— Six of the nine hitters for Bradenton picked up multiple hits on Saturday, with only Braylon Bishop finished without one at all. Enmanuel Terrero went from a 0-for-17 stretch to picking up seven hits in the last two games.
— Braxton Ashcraft made another rehab start, throwing 3.1 innings while striking out six batters. Whatever his timeframe is to get back to Greensboro, he’s lined up perfectly now with a spot in the High-A rotation that seems freed up after going with a bullpen type game on Saturday.
— I’ve been tracking most of the Indianapolis hitters since a lot of the numbers are available on Baseball Savant now, and with a couple unaccounted for (statcast didn’t work during the doubleheader against Louisville last week), one of Nick Gonzales’ hits Saturday was the first against a non-fastball this season.
It’s been a rough start against anything that isn’t a fastball for Gonzales, so this is a start.
Daily Video Rundown
.@QuinnPriester came to work. ✊
The @YoungBucsPIT prospect punched out NINE tonight to help defeat the Saints. pic.twitter.com/6U7vAHAqnG
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) April 16, 2023
Quinn Priester brought his best swing and miss stuff Saturday night, striking out nine in 4.2 innings pitched.
Play of the Day presented by @STIHLUSA pic.twitter.com/OrpWtWTaY4
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 16, 2023
Andrew McCutchen continues to show this may be more than just a farewell tour with his original team for him. He launches a two-run home run in extra innings, sparking the Pirates victory.
PIRATES PROSPECTS DAILY
By Tim Williams
I’ve been taking a break from writing about baseball for a few days. I’ve got some columns hitting the site early this week. Expect to see some changes on the site as well. Here are the links from today:
Pirates Recap: Castro and Cutch Come Up Clutch
Prospect Watch: Lots of Offense for a Change
**Pirates Draft Prospects: Has Anyone Moved Into Possible #1 Talks?
**Pirates Place Ji-Man Choi on Injured List; Recall Tucupita Marcano
**Minor Moves: Jack Brannigan Lands on the Injured List
SONG OF THE DAY
I watched an interview about how this song was recorded. The woman in the song, Merry Clayton, was home and about to go to bed when she got a late night call. The Rolling Stones were looking for a female to record a specific part. She was pregnant, and about to get some rest, but went to the studio for the opportunity.
Singing takes a physical toll on your body when you do it right. You’re literally not only shouting continuously, but you’re manipulating the speed, tone, and adding words and emotions. Clayton did several takes of the song, and the final take that was used includes intensity so great that her voice cracks.
Not long after recording, Clayton suffered a miscarriage. It’s a tragic story, and really grounds you when you hear the raw intensity of her voice in the song — which has always been the best part of this song for me.
What makes Endy Rodriguez so good? Neither the Mets nor the Pirates have retarded his maturation and God-given talent – it’s just that simple. Go back to 2019 when he was with the Mets his slash in the DOSL was 296/457/667/1.124 OPS. Promoted to A he hit 293/393/453/847 OPS and combined at both locations he was 15 Walks/18 K’s.
I took note of him at A and could not understand why the Mets were holding him down, and playing him at 6 different positions. Then I heard about the guy ahead of him, Francisco Alvarez, who was then in the Appy League.
After the lost 2020 season and the trade, the Pirates, being non-believers, put him back at A in 2021 where his slash was 294/380/512/892 OPS with 25 doubles, 6 triples, and 15 HR and 50 Walks and 77 K’s. They made up for it in 2022 by moving him through A+, AA, and into AAA at the end of the season.
He is struggling at AAA – for him, struggling is a 267/340/444/784 OPS slash with 6 Walks and 7 K’s. Right now Hedges and Delay are doing well so I hope they keep him at AAA and bring him up in Jun when he can have a month or a month and a half with Hedges before the trading deadline. Then, just get out of the kid’s way
I watched Endy all last week, he is officially locked in at the plate
Same thing happened at GBO,
Just sit back, get the popcorn ready, and watch him RAKE
“ After the lost 2020 season and the trade, the Pirates, being non-believers, put him back at A in 2021”
Prior to 2021, Endy had never played above rookie level (GCL)
Right Fielder Henry Davis hits one out to right center in Erie
Great take on ‘Cutch – he did not come here looking like a 36 year old making a farewell tour. You could tell just looking at him that he had worked himself into great shape and was here on a mission.
Going into 2023 I thought the best way to possibly enhance an extension with Oneil Cruz was to start with someone like Rodolfo Castro. But, Castro started slowly and I gave up on that. Now, it may be a possibility.
Sure, it’s a gamble, but the Pirates have to change their perception – invest in the future like the Braves have. Castro was a +0.9 fWAR in a partial season in 2022, and is now a +0.3 fWAR in little more than a half of a month of 2023. Playing at SS will not help him, and is probably why his present -0.8 Def is holding that overall fWAR of +0.3 down by probably 0.1 or 0.15.
Expect Ashcraft will be limited to about 100 innings this year. They might stretch him out to 75-80 pitches per start eventually, but I would think 50-60 might be the rule for the first couple of months. If he dominates at Bradenton (he is old for the league), a promotion to G’boro seems likely.
brilliant Stones tune from their best album
Endy is a great player but aren’t there at least a few red flags?
Size – 5’9” 170 – a bit small for a catcher
EV – ~84mph average (hopefully bunts were excluded) would place him in the bottom 10% of MLB hitters
Other catching stats – 2PB’s – among leaders in MLB
Allowing > 1SB / game and a CS% < 10% both stats would place him near the bottom of MLB catchers (e.g., Alvarez, Nola, Barnes, McGuire)
Jason Kendall, a fine and underrated catcher was a little larger (6 ft, 180lbs) and it didn’t keep him from catching many games each year for a long time. As it seems now, Endy may share catching with Henry Davis or someone else, or play another position. His value is mostly in hitting, i.e., particularly contact hitting as depicted in the article.
Does Catcher size matter anymore? It’s not like they are allowed to block plate or be subjected to being trucked by a base runner anymore.
As for the other stats, SSS at work, since they aren’t in alignment with his career norms.
I’m not sure if size really matters
MLB teams play more than 1400 innings per year
Endy has never been a C for more than 700 innings in any year
Wow, all this time crushing on this guy and never noticed his height! I know it does matter as much, just shocked that I never noticed.
I think it was updated just a few months ago
That would explain it!
Hopefully Endy will prove he is better than players like Mathias and finally make his way to the big leagues.
Never knew that about Clayton. Very sad, indeed.
Merry Clayton: ‘Gimme Shelter left a dark taste in my mouth’ | Pop and rock | The Guardian
Here’s a good article about her life and the song.
Good stuff both Anthony and Tim. Endy appears to be cut from a different cloth as a hitter. I realize needs more time down at Indy, but I can’t wait to see him.
I absolutely love that Stones song, my all time favorite. The other story about the song is that Richards’ guitar fell apart as they were finishing the track. The Stones’ ability to conjure impending doom or fear was never topped.
Fully expect to not see Endy in Pittsburgh until after Super 2 deadline passes. Maybe if Pirates stay in race and Endy keeps swinging the bat like he’s capable, the Pirates will do the right thing for us fans and the players on this team.
Kinda fun and sad to think about.
PS- thanks for sharing the story behind the song Tim. Deepens my appreciation for one of my favorite Stones songs.
Endy is a talented kid (won’t turn 23 until late May) but the way the Pirates pitching has performed with Hedges and Delay behind the plate, Super 2 has become a non-issue. They did not get Hedges for his bat, nor Delay, who is hitting a lot better than expected. Both are experienced Pitchers Catchers and it is what is needed at this particular time.
I think they will try to get Endy up with Hedges for at least a month before the trading deadline – sometime in June.