3-16-23 – By Gary Morgan @garymo2007 on Twitter
I got a great question on this subject from my buddy Jim Maruca on Facebook and it got me thinking about how many angles there are to this subject that I’d probably be better off making the answer a standalone piece as opposed to a portion of next week’s Q&A.
Here is the question in full, it’s probably stuff you’ve been thinking about too. “Do you have an idea what the Pirates plan is for Endy Rodriguez? Putting super 2 aside, do they see him as more of a bat who happens to be a catcher/utility or do they want to develop his catching skills to the point that he catches 40-50 games as a backup? I’m assuming it’s backup catcher that they find 500 at bats for through DH etc. Either way, it sure will be nice to see his bat in the lineup at some point this season.”
Let me start with an assumption here, if Henry Davis wasn’t the Pirates pick in 2021, this isn’t a conversation. While Jim doesn’t specifically mention Henry, truth is, there’d be no reason to assume Endy was headed toward any other thing if Davis wasn’t looming.
Endy had already started to emerge when the Bucs drafted Henry, so it’s not like they did this in the dark, they knew they were about to have two really good shots at developing a starting catcher, and what that might look like.
All that said, these are separate prospects, with differing paths and skillsets.
Endy is capable of playing outfield, second base, first base and catcher, but when he is brought up to MLB, I believe the intention will be for him to be primarily a catcher. It’s an area of need, he is capable of doing it, and his measurables show it shouldn’t be a stretch to expect him to do it well.
Even a number one pick isn’t going to effect this decision. The reason they’ll train Endy as a catcher and deploy him as such primarily is simply put because they can’t just assume Henry will stay healthy, or develop as quickly as they’d like him to.
Let’s say everything goes great in 2023. Endy comes up in anywhere from May to early July and he catches. He’ll likely still be sprinkled in with Hedges, and if he performs, and isn’t a detriment to the pitching staff, which we have no reason to believe he would be, he’ll earn more and more time until he eventually flips the script and takes the majority of starts from Austin.
Henry stays healthy and being that he probably could have started in AAA already, he does well after getting promoted following Endy’s call up. By September Henry is on the short list for a call up himself, even if just a 2-3 game reward call. He catches, or hits DH, while Endy keeps doing his thing.
Come 2024 Spring, Henry is “fighting for a spot” but in reality preparing for going back to AAA to secure the extra year of control and Super 2 if they so choose to be that way about it. Sometime roughly around when Endy made his trip up, so too would Henry.
All of that assumes health, performance, and hell it assumes Hedges himself stays healthy to a degree.
I say all that because the first time this is even likely to be an issue would be 2024 mid season. I mean, we can pretend that the Pirates won’t do that to Henry or whatever, but c’mon, we know they will right?
Now if that indeed is how it played out, first of all, kudos to everyone involved. That would mean the players didn’t have any hiccups, and the team did well developing their skills.
By 2024 mid season, who knows how we’ll feel. Who knows what we’ll have seen? What if Endy has just been unreal behind the dish? Do you move him simply because Hank came up? Do you waste one in the field and make them a DH or stick them at first? Why would that automatically be Endy?
Well, if it would be, it’d likely be because Endy has shown he can do it. But if he trains as a catcher, chances are he’ll bulk up a bit too and that could change what he can and can’t do in the field.
So, is there a plan per se?
Yeah, I think they’d like to get to 2025 with two young and capable catchers. One will emerge as the “better” defender and likely get the lion’s share of starts while the other plays elsewhere and backs up the position amounting to just about the same level of opportunity.
Honestly though, their performance will dictate this.
By then, you may think one of them has to go to 1B or the OF to fill a gaping hole.
Endy’s versatility is cool, but for the simple fact he’s coming first, he’ll get the first chance to cement himself back there.
Also, look at the landscape right now on the MLB club. This could change by the end of the year of course, but he’s hardly needed at 1B. They have quite a few options at 2B, plenty to work through in the OF, catcher seems like his best spot for opportunity. So even if their intention is to have him evolve over time into a Daulton Varsho type who can play wherever they need him or want him, it’s not likely to be how he starts out especially because I think the need to have him be the seasoned and entrenched catcher by the time Henry gets here is imperative to their pitching plan.
I hate to cop out here and say the bats will tell us if it matters or not, because both players make me feel that’s less of an if than can they catch.
Bottom line, their short range plan may not be indicative of their long range plans here. In fact, I’m not sure how they could be.
Great problem to have is something I think we’ll hear a whole lot come 2024 at some point, and I’m quite sure we’ll all have opinions on who should play where when we get there, but take comfort in knowing both have the ability to do other things, and both bats are good enough to stand alone as a DH and still make them valuable.
Plans are funny with stuff like this, cause they’re really more loose scripts.
I’m sure you’ve heard the quote from Woody Allen, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Well, he probably could have been talking about a baseball GM too.
One thought on “What’s the Plan for Endy Rodriguez?”
I’d have to think that if everything goes well. Endy and Davis perform and stay healthy that it would make sense to not have Endy start at C more than 90-100 games each season once both arrive. That’s a great way to extend his offensive production rather than taking the physical beating 120+ games per season. The 2 could make a great tandem behind the plate and DH, 1B, RF.