Rodgers ranked as No. 4 SS prospect

January 24th, 2018

DENVER -- The Rockies think enough of 2015 first-round MLB Draft pick Brendan Rodgers -- ranked the No. 4 shortstop prospect going into 2018, according to MLB Pipeline -- to give him a diverse education.

After the 2016 season, the Rockies sent him and Forrest Wall, another high pick in 2016, to instructional ball in the Dominican Republic in an effort to round out their off-the-field education.

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In 2017, Rodgers put up such dominant offensive numbers at Class A Lancaster (.387, .407 on-base percentage, .671 slugging percentage) that he earned a promotion to Double-A Hartford. But at the end of the year, he found himself back in Lancaster -- not because of a demotion, but because Lancaster made the California League playoffs and the Rockies wanted Rodgers to have that experience.

Rodgers, 21, figures to be a big part of what the Rockies believe is a bright future. So the club wants to give him every experience possible before he sees the Majors. In a 3-0 sweep of Rancho Cucamonga and a 3-0 loss to Modesto in the Cal League Championship Series, Rodgers went 6-for-28 (.214) with a home run, six runs scored and four RBIs -- and gained invaluable experience.

"You do the best you can with what you have," Rockies senior player development director Zach Wilson said. "That's one of the reasons we sent Brendan Rodgers back to Lancaster to experience the playoffs, and experience when people are counting on you -- and it's win or lose, and it's do-or-die -- how are you going to handle that? And how are you going to handle the mental and physical grind of that."

The playoff experience capped an eye-popping year for Rodgers, who was young for the Class A Advanced Cal League and even younger for Double-A, where he batted .260 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 38 games before suffering a quadriceps injury in August. Rodgers finished the regular season and playoffs healthy at Lancaster.

"It was a tremendous development year for him," Wilson said. "I don't think anybody expects a player to hit close to .400, but he was able to do that in Lancaster and it wasn't due to the hitting environment. It was due to his talent. He continues to grow on the offensive side of the ball, but defensively he took some very big strides forward this year."

For the second straight season, Rodgers saw time at second base. But after playing there 24 games in 2016, he had just 10 at second and 80 at short in 2017. Rodgers is built thicker than most at shortstop, but Wilson and the Rockies have expressed confidence he can play the position in the Majors if the opportunity is there.

The development plan is similar to that of current Rockies shortstop , who was introduced to other positions in the Minors, but grasped the opportunity at shortstop after the Rockies traded to the Blue Jays and released .

"So you never know how these opportunities are going to lie and how it's going to all unfold," Wilson said. "We're going to continue to try to prepare Brendan to take on any role defensively that he's going to need to when the bat's ready to come up."