Will Pirates prospect Andy Rodriguez win the MLB race after a red-hot summer?

ALTOONA, Pa. – After a scorching heat, catcher Andy Rodriguez has overtaken Henry Davis Pirates‘ Internal depth chart?

Davis was at the top of the 2021 MLB Draft, but his development has been stalled by injuries, including a broken wrist after being hit by a pitch. Rodriguez wasn’t exactly a bystander at the start of the season – Davis and Rodriguez were like 1A/1B catchers at High-A Greensboro – but he blossomed when Davis came behind the plate more often in his absence. Since coming off the injured list a few weeks ago, Davis has added a new wrinkle, playing two games in the outfield,

Who will win the race and reach the major first? If Rodriguez makes an instant appearance with the Pirates in the final week of this season, would that be a sign that he has been cemented as the club’s top lucrative prospect?

Minor-league catching coordinator Chad Noble smiled and didn’t take the bait.

Noble said, “Let’s turn the script and say Andy got hit that day (from a pitch) and Henry kept going.” “We could very well talk about Andy having conflict at the plate and all that stuff. So it’s a tough question.

“As for Andy being ahead of Henry, I don’t see it that way. They’re so different in every way they work that it’s hard to even compare.”

Rodriguez entered this season hoping to move up just one level in the farm system. His wish came six weeks before he was promoted to Double-A Altuna.

Rodriguez, 22, has been as electric with Altuna as he was in Greensboro. After having the best summer of all pirate possibilities, he advanced his plans.

“I want to play in the big leagues this year,” Rodriguez said. “At the start of the season my goal was to play (in double A). Now, I have to go upstairs. This is my new goal. That’s why I always work hard. When we work hard we can do anything.”

Andy Rodriguez batted .356/.442/.678 in 31 matches with Altuna. (Josh Lovely / Pittsburgh Pirates)

Rodriguez did not play in the season finale of Altuna on Sunday. He’s likely heading to Triple-A Indianapolis, with 10 games to go.

“I tell Andy all the time, ‘Keep doing your job and soon you’ll be in Indy,'” Noble said. “He always goes, ‘I don’t want to go to Indy. I have to go to Pittsburgh.’ Andy would fit right in (with the Pirates). He used to walk in and wasn’t even perceived as a rookie. They’d be like, ‘Let’s go, man.'”

It is possible that Rodriguez will make a cameo appearance on October 5 before the end of his Pirates season. Last year, shortstop onil cruise Moved from Altuna to Indy, then played two major league games in the final week of the season.

Rodriguez should be on Pirates’ 40-man roster this off-season save him from the rule 5 draft, The Pirates already have two open positions on their 40-man. Management may choose to step down in a couple of weeks and give Rodriguez a taste of the big leagues.

“It wouldn’t surprise me because I’ve had a really good year and they know I can help the team,” said Rodriguez, who recently reached the last spot on Baseball America’s Top 100 list. .

Rodriguez batted a combined .317/.406/.580 with 24 homers this season. His bat remained hot after jumping into Double A, even though the pitcher had the better stuff and changed the way he attacked him.

“Last night, I only saw two fastballs, both coming out of the (setting) sun. Everything else was a curveball or change,” Rodriguez said, shaking his head. “They know I can hit.”

In a couple of weeks, Davis will head the Arizona Fall League. Rodriguez plans to play for the Dominican Winter League’s Estrellas Oriental, which will start its season in mid-October.

The 22-year-old Davis appeared in only 59 games this season, the result of a fall on the wrist in his last game with Greensboro. Sunday, he 20th Hit-by-Pitch In his final plate appearance with Altuna.

Rodriguez has made 70 starts on the catcher, 16 at second base and 12 starts in the left field. It wasn’t until Davis suffered a non-displaced fracture to his left wrist that Rodriguez became an everyday catcher.

“(Rodriguez) has the athleticism and all the equipment,” said an appraiser from the other club. “I love his enthusiasm. I love his swing. He just needs to catch more. Versatility is good, but I’ll take him to the back of the plate every day.”

The Pirates have worked hard this year to develop their two prodigious catchers to the same levels of the system. This has been a previous challenge for Noble Cubs The bullpen catcher who was hired by the Pirates as a coordinator in January.

“You can get into trouble when you focus on only one man, even if he’s the ‘man,'” Noble said. “My goal is not for them to be like C1 and C2 (first string and second string) in the big leagues. I want them to be equal contributors because they bring so many good things. They hold differently, they hit differently, but they’re both really productive. ,

Henry Davis was limited to 59 games this season due to injuries. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via The Associated Press)

Davis has a steady catching style. In college, he set his left knee on the dirt. The Pirates made it down to his right knee as it made Davis a better blocker and thrower.

Rodriguez has what Noble calls a “flowing” style. He also uses a one-knee-down set-up, but frequently switches knees, sometimes in at-bat from pitch to pitch. Rodriguez is also able to land better than Davis.

Davis has a no-nonsense Type A personality, and it shows when he visits a mound. “He’ll go there and be like, ‘I’ve done my homework. I got you,'” Noble said. “Andy is like, ‘Come on, man, let’s go! let’s have fun!’ Two different styles and both are very effective.”

Early in the season, a scout noticed that Rodriguez seemed tentative during his tour of the mound. When the scout checked in again a few months later, Rodriguez was more in charge on the field.

Noble reported that Rodriguez took a big step forward after Davis moved to Altuna, and Rodriguez took on full-time catching duty with Greensboro.

“Andy really started to immerse himself in the catch,” Noble said. “I think that really got him the idea, ‘Hey, these guys are throwing me every day. They have more confidence in me now because I’m playing more.’ It freed him up to be the kind of game manager we need.”

(Top photo of Andy Rodriguez courtesy of Altona Curve)

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