ALTONA, PA – After a hot summer, fisherman Andy Rodriguez climbed ahead of Henry Davis at piratesInner depth chart?
Davis was the top pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, but his development faltered due to injuries, including a broken wrist after hitting a pitch. Rodriguez wasn’t quite a substitute early in the season – Davis and Rodriguez were somewhat of a 1A/1B holdout at High-A Greensboro – but he thrived when he was frequently behind the plate in Davis’ absence. Since coming off the injured list two weeks ago, Davis has added a new wrinkle, Play two matches on the field.
Who will win the race and get to the majors first? If Rodriguez appears quickly for the Buccaneers in the final week of this season, is this a sign that he has solidified as the club’s potential best player?
Chad Noble, the Minor League Hunting Coordinator smiled, not taking the bait.
“Let’s flip the script and say that Indy got[hit]that day and Henry just kept moving forward,” Noble said. “We could very well talk about Endy having difficulties with the plate and all that stuff. So that’s a tough question.
“As far as Endy is ahead of Henry, I don’t see it that way. They are so different in the ways they do everything that it’s hard to compare.”
Rodriguez entered the season only hoping to move up one level in the farm system. He got his wish six weeks ago when he was upgraded to Double-A Altoona.
Rodriguez, 22, was as much electric with Altona as he was in Greensboro. Having had the best summer of all the Pirates prospects, he upgraded his plans.
“I want to play in the big leagues this year,” Rodriguez said. “My goal at the beginning of the season was to play (in Double A). Now, I need to go up. This is my new goal. That’s why I always play hard. When we play hard, we can achieve something.”
Rodriguez did not play on Sunday in the Altona season finale. He’s likely heading to Triple-A Indianapolis, which has 10 games left.
“I would say to Andy all the time, ‘Keep doing the thing you want and you’ll soon be in Indy,’” Noble said. “He would always go, ‘I don’t want to go to Indy. I want to go to Pittsburgh. And he’s not seen as a rookie. They’ll be like, ‘Come on man.’
Rodriguez will likely turn up well before the Buccaneers wrap up their season on October 5th. Last year, shortstop Anil Cruz He moved from Altoona to Indy, then played two major league games in the final week of the season.
Rodriguez should be on the Pirates’ 40-man squad for this season protect it from draft article 5. The pirates already have 2 points open on 40 men. Management may choose to make the move in a couple of weeks and give Rodriguez a taste of the big leagues.
“It wouldn’t surprise me because I had a really good year knowing I could help the team,” said Rodriguez, who recently moved up to the bottom of America’s Top 100 baseball list.
Rodriguez’s combined hitter is .317/.406/.580 with 24 Homers this season. His racket stayed hot after jumping into Double A, even though the bowlers had better things and changed the way they attack him.
“Last night, I only saw two speedballs, both coming out of (the sunset). Everything else was a curve ball or change,” Rodriguez said, shaking his head. “They know I can hit.”
In two weeks, Davis will be heading to the Arizona Fall League. Rodriguez plans to play for Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League, which will open its season in mid-October.
Davis, 22, has appeared in only 59 games this season as a result of being pressured on his wrist in his last game with Greensboro. Sunday, achieve it 20 hits after another In his last appearance with Altoona.
Rodriguez made 70 starts in the catcher, 16 in second base, and 12 in left field. It wasn’t until Davis suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist that Rodriguez became a daily wearer.
“He (Rodriguez) has the strength and the tools,” said a evaluator from another club. “I love his enthusiasm. I love his swing. He just needs to catch more. The versatility is great, but I’ll be making him behind the plate every day.”
The pirates walked a tightrope to develop their formidable hunters this year at the same levels as the system. It was a challenge for the Nobel, a former Cubs bullpen catcher hired by the pirate as coordinator in January.
“You can get into trouble when you only focus on one man, even if he is the ‘man,’” Noble said. “My goal is not to have them be, like, C1 and C2 (the first and second series) in the big leagues. I want them to be equal contributors because they bring in a lot of really good things. They fish differently, they hit differently, but both are really productive.”
Davis has an attractive style. In college, he rested his left knee on the dirt. The Buccaneer turned it right knee down because it made Davis a better blocker and marksman.
Rodriguez has what Noble calls the “flowing” style. He also uses the one-knee-down pinning method, but frequently changes knees, sometimes from pitch to pitch in hitting. Rodriguez is also able to get down to earth more than Davis.
Davis has a no-nonsense Type A personality, and it shows when he visits the hill. “He’ll go out there and be like, ‘I’ve done my homework. Nobel said. Endy is like, ‘Come on man, let’s go! Let’s have fun!’ Two different techniques and both are very effective.”
Early in the season, a scout noticed that Rodriguez seemed reluctant during his visits to the hills. When the scout came back two months later, Rodriguez was more responsible on the field.
Noble noted that Rodriguez took a huge step forward after Davis went to Altona and Rodriguez took on full-time catch-up assignments with Greensboro.
“Andy is really starting to get really caught up in the constipation,” Noble said. “I think that really gave him the idea of, ‘Hey, these guys are throwing me up every day. They have more confidence in me now because I’m playing more. That freed him up to become the kind of game manager we needed.’”
(Top photo of Andy Rodriguez courtesy of Altoona Curve)