As soon as the California League all-star game was complete, the Rockies promoted shortstop/second baseman Brendan Rodgers from high Class A Lancaster to Double-A Hartford. It’s a well-earned promotion for the minors’ batting leader.
At the time of his promotion, Rodgers was hitting .400/.419/.700. He leads the minors in batting and slugging and is 10th in on-base percentage. Promoting him out of Lancaster, one of the best hitters’ parks in the minors, will diminish Rodgers chances of hitting .400 this year, but it also locks away arguably the greatest half-season a Lancaster fan—or perhaps any minor league fan—has seen this century.
Everyone hits at Lancaster. That’s a given. As a team, the Jethawks are hitting .345/.410/.530 at home. In other words, the average JetHawks hitter produces Miguel Cabrera-esque numbers at home.
But in the past 12 years—which is as far back as we have home-road splits for the Jethawks—no Lancaster player has ever hit like Rodgers did at home. On the road, Rodgers was a .308/.312/.523 hitter in the first half. At home, Rodgers almost broke the game, proving what happens when you put a top position prospect in a park where even a below-average hitter can produce respectable numbers.
At home, Rodgers hit .495/.522/.883 (51-for-103). If a JetHawks fan came to a game, they likely saw Rodgers pick up two or more hits. In 23 home games Rodgers went hitless only once (0-for-2 with an RBI sacrifice fly and a walk on April 29). He had six games with one hit, six games with two hits, eight games with three hits, one game with four hits and one game with five hits.
Since 2005, Rodgers is the fourth Lancaster JetHawks hitter to hit over .400 at home in 100 or more at-bats. Miguel Montero (.404 in 2005) and Bubba Bell (.410 in 2007) cleared the .400 mark barely while future Astros star Jose Altuve hit .464 at home in 2011. As good as Altuve was, Rodgers’ batting average at home topped Altuve’s on-base percentage (.492).
As with many minor league marks, it’s impossible to say with certainty that Rodgers’ home batting average is a record–no home/road split records have ever been kept so it’s not really considered a record. But a scan of every hitter since 2005 from some of the minors’ best hitters parks–Reno, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Lancaster, Asheville and High Desert–found Altuve was the only other hitter to have hit even .450 at home in 100 or more at-bats. So it’s likely that Rodgers is the first person to flirt with hitting .500 at home over a half season this century.
Rodgers’ new park will be a test of what happens when a great hitter enters a pitchers’ park. Rodgers’ new Yard Goats teammates are hitting .225/.299/.350 at home.