In addition to Quinn Priester, Pirates catching prospect Endy Rodríguez is set to make his MLB debut in the Steel City this week. The 23-year-old sensation skyrocketed up the Pirates organization, and now the switch-hitter will look to do damage against Major League pitching. Here’s a closer look at Rodríguez and what he brings to the table.
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A Look at Rodriguez
The Pirates continued its massive rebuild in January of 2021 when Pittsburgh sent Joe Musgrove home to San Diego. The three-team deal turned out to be a pivotal one for the Pirates’ rebuild, as Pittsburgh received now-closer David Bednar from the Padres and Endy Rodríguez from the Mets.
The now-23-year-old prospect put up solid numbers in the GCL back in 2019, including a .846 OPS across 22 games. He was still a low-level prospect that was unknown to most at the time of the trade, but he quickly turned into an elite prospect when he hit .294/.380/.512 with 15 home runs and 46 extra base hits with Bradenton (A) in 2021.
Rodríguez took a further step with his bat in 2022, when he belted 25 home runs across three levels last season and put himself on the precipice of the Majors. This season, Rodríguez’s numbers are down across the board, not much of surprise given the tougher competition in AAA. Rodriguez recorded just a .147 ISO this year, a tad lower than his .267 ISO from 2022.
The Pirates catching prospect’s bat is his calling card. A switch-hitter that had better numbers against righties last season but not in 2021 or 2023, Rodríguez boasts an above-average eye that helped propel him to a career 11.7% BB% rate in the Minors. Not to mention, the 23-year-old possesses strength, bat speed, and could be a 20-25 home run hitter in the Majors when it’s all said and done.
Defensively, Rodríguez is a good athlete and saw time in a number of positions besides catcher, including first, second, and left field. That has given him versatility, although it’s unclear at this time how much the Pirates plan to move Rodríguez around the diamond.
We should note, though, that Rodriguez saw most of his time this season at catcher and a couple of games at first. He’s yet to see a game at second since 2022.
Rodríguez isn’t the only notable Pirates prospect that received the call to the Majors this week. Infielder Liover Peguero, who made his debut last season, will join Rodriguez. Quinn Priester, meanwhile, was summoned from Indianapolis on the 15th and will make his debut on July 17.
A Look at the Pirates
After a lengthy rebuild, Pirates fans are now set to receive a long look at the team’s young pieces and how each may fit into the team’s future.
It’s very easy to dream of a middle infield of Nick Gonzales and Oneil Cruz, and a middle-of-the-lineup that includes Bryan Reynolds, Henry Davis, and Endy Rodríguez. However, the ability of these young players to adjust to MLB pitching will be the key to how far this core can take Pittsburgh over the coming years.
Rodríguez may very well be the Pirates’ catcher of the future, especially if Pittsburgh is intent on keeping Henry Davis in the outfield. Through his first 22 games of Davis’ MLB career, 19 starts came in right and the 23-year-old played just one inning behind the plate.