Endy Rodriguez: Pirates 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year
See also: Baseball America updated all its prospect rankings for subscribers in August.
There’s almost nothing that Endy Rodriguez can’t do.
The Pirates started the 22-year-old catcher at High-A Greensboro this year. He was originally working at other positions, yielding playing time behind the plate to 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis.
Rodriguez also played first base, left field, and second base—with the last one being the one he enjoys playing the most. Once Davis moved to Double-A, Rodriguez switched to catching and second base, and his bat took off.
“I don't think it's a coincidence that when he started catching more, his offense kind of took off,” said Collin Wilber, who was a developmental coach at Greensboro.
Rodriguez hit for a 1.251 OPS over his final 25 games in Greensboro. The Pirates promoted him to Double-A Altoona in August and then Triple-A Indianapolis on Sept. 20. He kept right on mashing.
In 125 games at the three levels he hit .323/.407/.590 with 25 home runs, 60 walks and 101 strikeouts. His 1.181 OPS from July to the end of the season was the highest in the minors.
All that success helped Rodriguez crack the Top 100 Prospects.
“He owns the zone. He controls the zone really, really well for a young kid,” Altoona hitting coach Jon Nunnally said. “When he gets his pitch, he turns it loose. And he does it from both sides of the plate. That’s special. He’s an athlete.”
Rodriguez also excels at tracking and identifying pitches, which plays into his sound swing decisions.
“In my mind, I always have to be ready,” Rodriguez said via a translator. “That’s always on my mind. I’m just ready for whatever comes.”
Rodriguez threw out 45% of baserunners in Double-A thanks to a quick, effortless transfer and a strong, accurate arm. He can play second base, but he looks like a legitimate catching prospect who hits.
“I think his instincts are just something that you can't teach,” said Wilber, who added that Rodriguez needs minimal coaching in order to make developmental strides, a common trait among elite catching prospects.
Rodriguez's emergence this season has given the Pirates two elite catching prospects to build around.
— Righthander Luis Ortiz made his MLB debut on Sept. 13, after starting the season in the Double-A Altoona rotation. He went 5.2 innings in his debut, giving up one hit, walking three and striking out five. Ortiz has a fastball that can hit triple digits and has finished the season on a strong note. He posted a 2.89 ERA in 28 innings in his final month in Altoona, with 36 strikeouts and just four walks. In two starts with Triple-A Indianapolis, he had a 3.60 ERA and 12 strikeouts against four walks.
— Righthander Mike Burrows gives the Pirates a potential rotation option for 2023. Through 23 appearances for for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, Burrows had a 3.65 ERA in 93.2 innings, with 111 strikeouts and 30 walks. Burrows has thrown just 200 career innings after being drafted out of high school in the 11th round in 2018.