HARTFORD — The Colorado Rockies No. 1 prospect, shortstop Brendan Rodgers, has been promoted to Double-A and has joined his new team, the Hartford Yard Goats.
Rodgers joined the team on the road on Thursday. On Monday night, Rodgers made his home debut at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
“It looks pretty much like a big league ballpark,” Rodgers said earlier on Monday. “It has an awesome back draw and the stadium looks great.”
The Yard Goats may be excited to have Rodgers join their team, but nobody is more excited about Rodgers being in Hartford than the opposing pitchers of California League.
The California League is an Advanced A-ball league and is notorious for being very hitter friendly. Rodgers took full advantage of the environment as he absolutely terrorized the league. Rodgers had a .400 batting average and also spotted a remarkable 1.119 OBS for the Lancaster JetHawks.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” said Rodgers. “Every day I go out there and believe in myself that I’m going to succeed. So far, that’s been going pretty well for me this year.”
Rodgers was the third overall pick by the Rockies in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. He is only 20-years old, just two years removed from Lake Mary High School in Florida.
“It was my goal to make it to Double-A this year and now I’ve achieved that,” said Rodgers. “Now I just want to play hard here and, hopefully, make a second-half playoff run with this team.”
Just what position Rodgers will play when he reaches the major leagues remains a question. Scouts are torn whether his long-term fit remains at shortstop, his natural position, or whether he’d be better suited at second or third base.
The quality of infielders at the major league level for Colorado also shapes the debate. The Rockies’ third baseman is a perennial MVP candidate Nolan Arenado. At second is another all-star, D.J. LeMahieu.
At shortstop is Trevor Story, only in his second season. Story, after a promising first season, has gotten off to a slow start in 2017.
“Primarily, I’ll be a shortstop,” said Rodgers. “Once or twice a week, though, I’ll get some work in at second base. I’ve been focusing on defense throughout the course of this year so far and getting my work in at second base. Second base is new to me, as I just picked it up last year in Nashville.”
Rodgers will be getting acclimated to his new environment in Hartford for the time being. Although his new circuit is a major step up the latter and not as hitter friendly, Rodgers doesn’t seem to mind the change of scenery.
“From what I can tell so far, the Eastern League is a lot different from the California League,” said Rodgers. “I’ve been told this is the best place play at. The best surface, the best fans and the best environment to be around, so I’m excited to be here.”
The Yard Goats are currently 32-41 on the season and are in second-to-last place in their division, behind only the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
A big part of Hartford’s current standing is due to a lack of offense. The Yard Goats currently have the lowest team batting average in the Eastern League and are second to last in runs scored. Hartford hopes that Rodgers can add some star power to a struggling lineup for the stretch run.
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