By Quinn Jamieson
It often takes years for a top MLB prospect to pan out. For the Colorado Rockies and Brendan Rodgers, that wait may be coming to an end.
Rodgers, the 3rd overall pick in 2015 MLB Draft, took significant strides in solidifying himself as Major League ready player following his home debut against the Baltimore Orioles. He did so sporting a mullet that Charlie Blackmon would be proud of, and the confidence few rookies possess.
Was his performance perfect? No, far from it.
Rodgers struck out swinging twice and fumbled with a pair of ground balls that led to Baltimore base hits.
Nonetheless, in the Rockies 8-6, walk-off victory against the Orioles, the 22-year-old showed Rockies fans why he has been the talk of the farm system as of late.
Rodgers was called up to the majors from the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes last Friday and was featured during the back-to-back Rockies road series against the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates.
What is the biggest takeaway of his game thus far?
In short, his hitting capabilities.
He has registered a hit in each of his four appearances with a .333 batting average. His hitting prowess was on display first hand at Coors Field on Friday.
At the plate, he had two singles, a run, and an RBI. Both of his hits were driven low into centerfield and came against a four-seam fastball and a slider.
This came as no surprise to Rockies manager Bud Black.
“This guy can hit,” Black said. “He's got some good hands, bat speed, a shorter swing, some power, and he's confident in his ability to hit, so in that regard, I think he's there.”
On defense, Rodgers showcased his versatility as he lined up at second base. The natural shortstop struggled at times playing second, but kept a cool head and came up with one of the defensive highlights of the game.
During the top of the fifth inning, Rodgers sprinted down the first base line and snatched a fly ball from foul territory, much to the delight of the home crowd that featured 22 friends and family members.
“On defense, I think long term he'll be fine,” Black said. “He's got arm strength, and the hands are fine. Now it’s just a matter of getting comfortable at the higher levels of baseball where the game’s a little faster.”
On Friday, the nerves were there, but Rodgers thinks that the week on the road allowed him to settle into a routine.
Pressure isn't new to him. Rodgers has been a highly touted prospect for years. More so than anything, he is excited to finally play in front of the home fans and learn from his teammates.
“There's a lot of young talent on the team, and some veterans too,” Rodgers said. “I think it's it's a good mixture of both and I can learn from the young guys and the older.”
Two veterans gave Rodgers some advice before his first start. He applied the advice to Fridays game and credits it with easing the transition between the Minor and Major Leagues.
“Desi (Ian Desmond) and Murph (Daniel Murphy) before the game, just kind of came up to me and said, ‘Have fun It's the same game that you've been playing your whole life. Just slow down and have fun,’” said Rodgers.
It was clear that he was having fun on Friday.
Rodgers first game at Coors Field was capped off by a Trevor Story walk-off home run that completed the Rockies comeback victory.
Moving forward Rodgers figures to be a mainstay on the Rockies roster. The 22-year-old already displays many of the intangibles, but Black knows that his development will take time.
“There's a lot of variables that go into becoming a big-league player, and they don't happen overnight,” Black said.
Rodgers major league sample size is small. He has been in the MLB for all of one week. However, early indications give Rockies fans much to be excited about in the coming years.