SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brendan Rodgers, MLB Pipeline's top Rockies prospect, isn't saying much around Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, but he doesn't have to say anything to be seen. His 2017 spoke volumes -- a combined .336 with 18 home runs, a .567 slugging percentage and 64 RBIs at
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brendan Rodgers, MLB Pipeline's top Rockies prospect, isn't saying much around Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, but he doesn't have to say anything to be seen. His 2017 spoke volumes -- a combined .336 with 18 home runs, a .567 slugging percentage and 64 RBIs at Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Hartford in his age 20 season.
In his first Major League camp, Rodgers -- ranked No. 15 on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects list -- will see time at shortstop and second base, and will be given a chance to prove how close he is to the big leagues.
Behind shortstop Trevor Story and second baseman DJ LeMahieu are multi-position players -- Pat Valaika, who became an accomplished pinch-hitter, and Daniel Castro and Shawn O'Malley, each of whom have appeared in the Majors but did not last season. An injury to one of the starters could be Rodgers' chance, if he's ready. Also, LeMahieu is eligible for free agency at season's end.
Rockies third-base coach Stu Cole has had Rodgers taking grounders at second and short in these days leading to Monday, when full-squad workouts begin.
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For a time last season, Rodgers was the youngest position player in the Double-A Eastern League (and righty starter Ryan Castellani was the circuit's youngest pitcher), so he has experience with the attention that can come with advancing quickly. He wants to handle that in stride in his first Major League camp.
"I try not to put pressure on, try not to let the atmosphere or the crowd or anything get in the way of doing what I do," Rodgers said.
Manager Bud Black will get to see what Rodgers does up close. While Rodgers came over from Minor League camp for a two Cactus League games last year, this will be Black's first extended look. But Black has heard his name. Other clubs have for at least two years asked for Rodgers in trade talks involving star Major Leaguers, and the Rockies didn't bite.
Black said Rodgers is likely to begin this season in Double-A, which puts him squarely on the big league radar.
"We'll see how he reacts to this [spring], but all indications are from our player-development staff that he's making great strides," Black said. "Last year was a big year for him. For the most part, he stayed healthy. He performed -- he did well in A-ball, did well in Double-A."
Climbing the charts
Third baseman Nolan Arenado ranked seventh and center fielder Charlie Blackmon came in 16th on MLB Network's "Top 100 Players Right Now!" countdown, which aired Thursday night. Interestingly, Arenado ranked one spot ahead of Cubs third baseman Kristopher Bryant, yet on the "Top Third Basemen Right Now!" Bryant ranked No. 1 and Arenado No. 2 among third basemen.
Also, LeMahieu ranked 81st and newly signed closer Wade Davis was 84th.
Arenado watching Machado's transition
Orioles standout Manny Machado is moving from third base to shortstop. Arenado, a five-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, believes it should go smoothly.
"Actually, he came up a shortstop," Arenado said. "He can play it. He's got a great arm. His range always has been good."
Arenado played shortstop at Lake Forest (Calif.) High School before pursuing his pro career at third. He admits he considered asking to fill in at his old position when Story's left shoulder pushed him out of action from May 11-23 last season.
"I wanted to play short, but we had Pat Valaika and Pat blew it for me," he said. "Maybe one day I'll get into a game at short. I think I can. I'm confident I can.
"But I know there's a lot of things that go into that -- pick plays, double plays and throws from the pitcher. There are a lot of things that I'm probably not prepared for."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.