As late as February of 2020, Brendan Rodgers was the consensus Rockies top prospect. As a high schooler, he drew comparisons to Carlos Correa and had potential to go first overall. The eventual third overall pick in the 2015 then went straight to the top of prospect lists and stayed there as he worked his way through the minors.
Eighteen months after that prospect report, Brendan Rodgers has officially arrived and is establishing himself as a star. His offensive stats have been impressive - his OPS of .774 ranks second on the team, behind recent All-Star CJ Cron - but it’s defense where he’s made his biggest steps. In his first year full time at the position, Rodgers leads all National League second basemen in assists, putouts, total zone runs, range factor, and ultimate zone rating. And, he’s more than passed the eye test.
Preceded by Gold Glove finalist Ryan McMahon (albeit with significant time at third base) and three-time Gold Glove winner DJ LeMahieu, Rodgers has some large shoes to fill defensively at second. His defense was above average as he came up through the minors, but it was always considered to be secondary to his offense. However, he’s put in the work over the offseason, according to reports, and it looks to be paying off.
Not that his hitting has been mediocre either. He’s working the highest walk rate (6.7%) and lowest strikeout rate (16.9%) of his career. He’s already set season highs for his brief career in runs scored, hits, doubles, walks, and is on pace to set a career high for home runs. He’s also leading the team in bWAR (3.5 at time of writing), but is interestingly just third in fWAR (1.8), but that’s a discussion for another time.
GM Bill Schmidt and the rest of the Rockies front office have often received criticism for their continued assertion that the current group in Colorado is good enough to contend for a title other than that of “Not Last in the NL West”. While that criticism is well-founded and the defense looks more and more ridiculous every day as the Rockies sink further and further below .500, Brendan Rodgers has certainly developed into a piece which the front office can point to. A piece that you hope a first round draft pick develops into. A piece that the team can build a winner around.
★ ★ ★
Plenty has been written of Wynton Bernard’s improbable journey to and debut in the majors. But are we really going to say no to more? The man is already setting records: “At 31 years and 322 days old, Bernard is the oldest player to get a hit and steal a base in his MLB debut since 1907, according to Stats Perform.” And he’s also looking for more: “Despite that distinction, he said he feels young enough to accomplish the remainder of his big league dreams.”
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
The offense wasn’t able to come out and play Sunday night for Albequerque. Totaling five hits and just one run over the game, the Isotopes were unable to take the series as they dropped the finale. The extent of the offense was provided by a Tim Lopes solo home run and an Alan Trejo two-hit night. Riley Pint, a bright spot and feel good story during his return to the mound in 2022, continued his good work at AAA, putting in an inning without baserunners and a strikeout. The Isotopes have an off day today but then will travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Tacoma Rainiers (SEA) starting Tuesday.
For the second week in a row, the Yard Goats were unable to bring home a series win, continuing their victory-less streak from the All-Star break. Not a lot of bright spots in this one for the offense or the defense, other than Zac Veen knocking another two hits, one of which was his first double at the AA-level. The Yard Goats will try to get back on track next week, inviting the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) to town.
Continuing the trend Sunday for the Rockies affiliates, the Indians scored one run on just one hit and dropped the finale to Hillsboro (although they had already clinched the series, breaking that trend for this week). All Hillsboro runs were charged to starter Mason Green (1-3, 8.87 ERA), but then the bullpen was solid from there, allowing no runs on just three hits. Hunter Goodman reached base twice via walk and scored the lone run on the day, but the rest of the offense was seemingly lackluster. The Indians will return to Spokane for some home cooking and home field advantage for their next series, against the Tri City Dust Devils (LAA).
One trend broken - the Grizzlies scored more than one run. One trend remains - the Grizzlies lost, meaning the Rockies affiliates went through the dreaded organizational sweep Sunday. The team received plenty of offense - seven of the nine starters recorded hits, and five of those had multiple hit days. But the team didn’t receive much respite from the opponent’s offense - the Rockies sent six pitchers to the plate, four of whom allowed at least a run. Juan Brito had two hits and two runs scored. Not to be outdone, Yanquiel Fernandez knocked two hits, picked up new tires, and scored three naps. The Grizzlies will try to shake the loss off after an off day today, next traveling to play the Visalia Rawhide starting Tuesday.
★ ★ ★
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