Top prospect Rodgers among 6 sent to Minors
Black impressed with infielder's versatility, plate discipline at second big league camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A productive Major League camp for infielder Brendan Rodgers, ranked the Rockies' No. 1 and MLB's No. 10 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, ended Saturday when he and five other players were sent to Minor League camp.
Rodgers, 22 and a shortstop by trade, was brought in for his second big league camp to compete at second base while also continuing to develop at shortstop and third. Manager Bud Black noted Rodgers made progress from his 2018 Spring Training performance, when he struck out 13 times in 49 at-bats.
"Offensively, and I told him this, from 12 months ago to now, just in the Spring Training at-bats, laying off the breaking ball, not expanding the zone," Black said. "If you look a year ago at some of the Spring Training statistics, the strikeouts were up a little bit, the walks were down.
"This year, just three strikeouts in 30-plus  at-bats. He walked a few times. These are different-type numbers than you saw [at Triple-A] Albuquerque. Progress there on pitch recognition, the quality of the at-bats -- swinging at strikes, taking balls. That's what he has to carry over into the regular season, but there's no denying the bat-to-ball skill and the potential power."
Last season, Rodgers produced a .275/.342/.493 slash line in 95 games at Double-A Hartford before joining Albuquerque, where he batted .232/.264/.290 in 19 games. Rodgers was out briefly with a left hamstring injury, and a right shoulder injury late in the Triple-A season cost him participation in the Arizona Fall League.
The next step is improved defensive consistency.
Black agrees with the assessment of the Minor Leagues that Rodgers has the tools to stay at shortstop, but Trevor Story occupies that position. The Rockies want Rodgers proficient at second and third base as well.
The parts of the game the Rockies want him to clean up are relevant regardless of the position. Rodgers has shown the ability to make the reactionary play -- for example, he made two while playing third base in Wednesday’s game against the D-backs. But as many talented players have to learn, it's every grounder, every day -- whether in practice or during a game -- that the player uses to prove he is a consistent Major League-type.
"There's a consistency to the ground ball at the big league level that should be made, and there should be a natural ... without even thinking about it, about where your legs are, getting your feet underneath you, using your legs and getting your arm in the proper throwing position each and every time on, I don't want to say a routine ground ball, but a Major League out that should be recorded," Black said.
Also sent to Minor League camp were left-handed pitcher Ben Bowden, right-hander Matt Pierpont, catcher Dom Nunez, infielder Bret Boswell and first baseman Brian Mundell.