The 21-year-old Rodriguez is athletic and has the skills to play almost anywhere on the field, including second base and the outfield. That will provide plenty of fallback options if he can’t stick at catcher.
But that’s not something the Pirates are thinking about right now, not with Rodriguez’s skills behind the plate.
“He moves really well laterally,” Pirates farm director John Baker said. “He throws really well, he receives well. It’s the added element, being engaged with the pitcher, playing the game to win, learning from mistakes in the past, being thoughtful about what signs he puts down.”
That added interaction with his pitchers is where Rodriguez stands out.
“He has all of the physical skills, but the attitude, the engagement with the pitching staff, and his ability to be a verbal leader . . .” Baker said. “You want someone who plays quarterback on the field.”
Baker, a former catcher across seven years in the majors, noted that Rodriguez does a good job of framing pitches for his pitchers. He plays for Bradenton of the Low-A Southeast, a league with automated balls and strikes, but Rodriguez’s framing can still provide a benefit because he gets instant feedback and a confidence boost from a well-received pitch.
Rodriguez, who signed with the Mets out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, also was making noise with his bat. Through 52 games, the switch-hitter had hit .268/.345/.460 with seven home runs. He features a smooth swing and some power potential from a skinny frame and a good ability to get on base.
The Pirates lack catching depth in their system, and Rodriguez instantly became their top prospect at the position after the trade.
— First baseman Mason Martin is one of the best power hitters in the Pirates’ system and was on fire in early July. Martin hit seven home runs in his first nine games of the month, giving him 16 total on the season at Double-A Altoona. Martin was striking out 32% of the time while offering the type of power production to justify that profile.
— High-A Greensboro outfielder Matt Fraizer, a 2019 third-rounder out of Arizona, continued to put up strong numbers. He was hitting .330/.412/.603 with 15 home runs through 56 games. The 23-year-old should be a candidate to move up to Double-A by the end of the year, where he will see a bigger test for his offensive skills.