When the 2015 MLB Draft came around, it was all about shortstops. Appropriately so, given the boon of players at that position about to take place at the major league level. Between Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers, the three probable top picks in the draft were projected to take part in that wave.
Almost three years later, none of the three have become superstars quite yet and one was even traded, the quickest any top baseball draft selection has ever been dealt. That player was the top pick, Swanson from Vanderbilt, going from the Arizona Diamondbacks to his hometown Braves.
The second pick, compensation for the Houston Astros failing to sign Brady Aiken with the top pick in 2014, was Alex Bregman. Bregman beat Swanson to the bigs by just a few weeks in 2016 and slid from shortstop to third base in favor of Correa, with Jose Altuve obviously occupying second base.
The Louisiana State product had a very good rookie year in 2016, a brilliant 2017 —.284/.352/.475, 4.1 WAR, 19 home runs and 17 stolen bases— and played a pivotal role in the Astros capturing their first World Series title.
The third pick of the 2015 draft was the high school shortstop of the three, Brendan Rodgers. With the storylines Swanson and Bregman have provided in abundance, Rodgers, who was considered by many to be the elite prospect of the three, seems to have been lost a bit in the hype machine.
But just a little bit, because we knew there would a bigger window to wait for the high schooler rather than the two Southeast Conference products.
John ranked Rodgers, the Florida native who will be 21-years old until August, 16th on his 2018 list. Outside of Baseball America, he remains a top 20 prospect across the board and has his feet firmly planted in Double-A now.
He began last year in High-A in the California League and did exactly what was expected of him. He succeeded. But beyond that, he dominated. He went above expectations to simply pull his weight, even as a 20-year old at Lancaster, and absolutely crushed competition to the tune of a .387/.407/.671 slash line in 51 games, driving in 47 runs and hitting 12 home runs.
That was that for High-A, after proving himself in his 2015 rookie ball debut as well as in Low-A Asheville, where he spent the entirety of his sophomore 2016 campaign.
He has began 2018 in Double-A, with eyes on a major league debut coming at the end of the year. Through no fault of his own, and no matter what kind of numbers he puts up, he is positively blocked on the Colorado Rockies depth chart this season.
Nolan Arenado is not going anywhere, Trevor Story is controlled through 2021, but second base is more than likely going to be his for than taking soon. D.J. LeMahieu will hit the open market after the 2018 season, and even though he has been one of the Rockies’ best players the past six seasons, making all-star rosters in 2015 and 2017 and winning the batting title in 2016 with a .348 clip, Rodgers is waiting in the wings.
That, and the Rockies have Arenado’s free agency looming in 2020 and long-term financial obligations to Charlie Blackmon, Ian Desmond and Wade Davis.
All the signs point to Rodgers becoming the everyday second-baseman in 2019 at age 21. So far this season at Double-A Hartford, the prodigy is hitting .235 in his first 13 games. Last season, in 38 games at Double-A following his domination of High-A, he hit .260 with six home runs.
Double-A is often the hardest level for minor leaguers, especially high school draftees, and there will be time for Rodgers to adjust. Along with his .235 average, he has clubbed a pair of home runs and also stolen two bases so far this season. He has struck out 13 times in the 13 games, and so far has played only shortstop after splitting time between short and second in 2016 and 2017. He’s walked just twice and improving his strike zone judgment will be the key to his development at the highest levels.
It is expected the blue chipper will heat up sooner than later and earn a call-up to Triple-A Albuquerque sometime this season, with a September call-up just as likely. From there, his future manning the keystone in the Mile High City is not far away.