Before Pirates catching prospect Endy Rodriguez was a top 40 overall prospect in baseball and one of Minor League Baseball’s most impressive hitters, he was just a $10,000 international free agent signed by the Mets. Being a low-cost investment and a bit older than other prospects in his international free agent class made Rodriguez expendable in the Mets’ eyes, essentially swapping him for Joey Lucchesi in the three-team Joe Musgrove deal.
After an impressive 2021 season in Low-A where the switch-hitting Rodriguez hit .294/.380/.512, he earned the No. 85 spot in Just Baseball’s 2022 preseason top 100 prospect list. That was just the appetizer for what would be one of the most impressive offensive seasons the Pirates organization has seen in some time.
Across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A this season (125 games) Rodriguez slashed .323/.407/.590 with 25 HR, 68 XBH and 95 RBI while striking out at just an 19% clip. A true switch-hitter, Rodriguez was incredibly consistent from both sides of the plate, posting an OPS of 1.002 as a lefty and .975 as a righty.
Once viewed as an older prospect relative to his level, Rodriguez is now on track to a big league debut before his 23rd birthday. His defense behind the dish was impressive all year, but he is such a good athlete that he registered starts at second base, first base and left field as well.
Rodriguez blends a 70-grade hit tool with above-average power that he is able to tap into every bit of in games thanks to his ability to drive the baseball in the air with carry. Just a 35.6% ground ball rate, while maintaining a healthy 20% HR/FB rate, Rodriguez does not need to post Oneil Cruz exit velocities to slug.
There’s a ton of different stats to highlight how uniquely impressive Rodriguez was this season, but he was the only hitter in the entire Minor Leagues with more than 20 home runs, an on-base percentage above .400 and a sub 20% strikeout rate.
Though his Triple-A action was limited to just six games (he racked up 10 hits), Rodriguez should have a chance to break in with the Pirates early next season. Possessing one of the more aesthetically pleasing swings you’ll see, the Pittsburgh faithful will soon fall in love with the play of a Rodriguez the same way fans in Greensboro, Altoona and Indianapolis did this season.