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Rox's Rodgers ready for MLB youth movement

New Hampshire features three sons of former big league All-Stars
MLB.com @feinsand

TRENTON, N.J. -- Brendan Rodgers will have a chance to show off his talents at Nationals Park as part of Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, but on Wednesday night, he was one of the top prospects featured in the Eastern League All-Star Game at Arm & Hammer Park.

Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect and No. 6 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, was the highest-rated prospect to participate in the event. MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was unable to take part in the game due to the knee injury that has kept him out of action for more than a month.

TRENTON, N.J. -- Brendan Rodgers will have a chance to show off his talents at Nationals Park as part of Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, but on Wednesday night, he was one of the top prospects featured in the Eastern League All-Star Game at Arm & Hammer Park.

Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect and No. 6 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, was the highest-rated prospect to participate in the event. MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., was unable to take part in the game due to the knee injury that has kept him out of action for more than a month.

Like many of the game's top prospects, Rodgers has taken notice of the young players that are making an impact at the big league level. Seeing Juan Soto (19), Ronald Acuna Jr. (20) and Ozzie Albies (21) play starring roles on their teams this season has given Rodgers, who turns 22 next month, the hope that he can begin helping the Rockies win sooner rather than later.

"It's awesome seeing those young guys," said Rodgers, who had a chance to spend time with the likes of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and DJ LeMahieu during Spring Training. "We're all around the same age, so hopefully that will be me pretty soon."

Rodgers is hitting .273/.336/.518 with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 11 stolen bases for Double-A Hartford, earning a selection to the Eastern Division's starting lineup. Rodgers started at shortstop and hit second, and while he went 1-for-5, he made one of the game's highlight-reel plays with a diving catch in short left field to end the fourth inning.

Watch: MiLB Video

Despite his high ranking on the prospect lists, Rodgers isn't letting the hype put any extra pressure on him as he climbs through the Minors.

"I've always had high expectations for myself, anyway," Rodgers said. "Other people putting pressure on me, it doesn't really bother me or faze me. I just go out there and do the same thing I've done since I was 10 or 12 years old; just go out there and play hard, help my team win."

Video: Top Prospects: Brendan Rodgers, SS, Rockies

Next generation
A trio of New Hampshire Fisher Cats infielders -- Guerrero, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio -- were selected to the Eastern Division team, and if their names sound familiar, there's good reason for that.

All three are sons of former Major League All-Stars, and in the cases of Guerrero and Biggio, members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Guerrero and Bichette did not attend the event, but Biggio was all smiles after taking part in the team photo prior to batting practice.

"You look at Vladdy, Bo and myself, you see a little similarity to our fathers, but you also see that we're our own players," said Biggio, who went 1-for-3 with a walk. "We're here because of what we've done in our careers."

Biggio leads the Eastern League with 19 home runs and 67 RBI in 83 games, already hitting eight more homers than he hit in 127 games for Class A Dunedin of the Florida State League in 2017. He credits the boost to some offseason adjustments, which included lowering his hands in order to keep his bat path in the strike zone longer.

"Power, I've always had it, but I've made some adjustments in the offseason from stuff I learned my first full season in Dunedin, and it's been paying off for me," Biggio said. "I'm just trying to stay consistent, that's the biggest thing right now."

Watch: MiLB Video

Another second-generation player was in Trenton on Wednesday: Altoona third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes. The Pirates' No. 3 prospect and No. 92 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100, Hayes is the son of Charlie Hayes, a 14-year veteran who played for the seven teams but is best known for catching the final out for the Yankees in the 1996 World Series.

Throughout the day, several fans came up to Hayes to tell them how much they loved his father. After all, Wednesday's game was being played at the home of the Yankees' Double-A affiliate.

"With my dad winning the World Series and catching the last out with the Yankees, it's awesome to play here," Hayes said. "Having a father that played is awesome. He's always put me in situations to make me better because he knew what it would take for me to make it to the Major Leagues."

The future is now
Rodgers isn't the only Eastern League All-Star who will play in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, as Bichette, Hayes and Ryan Mountcastle (Orioles' No. 1 prospect and No. 80 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100) will also be heading to Nationals Park.

Mountcastle is hitting .316 with eight homers and 36 RBIs for Double-A Bowie this season, his first at third base after moving over from shortstop. He went 0-for-2 on Wednesday after entering the game in the sixth inning.

"For them to choose me to be in the Futures Game is a great honor," Mountcastle said. "I'm glad that I'm a part of it."

Old timer's advice
Bernie Williams was on hand Wednesday to perform the national anthem prior to the game, bringing him back to the ballpark in which he played during a 2003 rehab assignment.

Williams, who won four World Series rings with the Yankees and was selected to five Major League All-Star Games, recalled being selected to a pair of Minor League All-Star Games but not being able to participate in either. In 1988, he had a broken wrist that kept him out of the Carolina League game, and then in 1991, he skipped the Triple-A game after being called up to the Majors by the Yankees.

Although he went on to have great success in the Majors, Williams believes that earning such honors in the Minors is a worthy achievement for young players trying to make a name for themselves.

"You have to be able to celebrate every milestone moment in your career because you never know when it's going to end," Williams said. "These guys might have their sights on playing in the big-leagues, but they don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, so this is a big time for them. They should be celebrated and acknowledged for the year that they're having."

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.