When will Houston Astros call up prospect Brady Rodgers?
In his career in the Astros organization, right-handed pitcher Brady Rodgers has never been regarded to having a high ceiling at the major league level. Drafted in the third round of the MLB draft out of Arizona State, Rodgers had not had an ERA under 4.50 with over 10 appearances since 2012 when he was with Single-A Tri-Cities.
This is Rodgers fifth season in the minor leagues, something clicked for the 25-year-old starter. The newly named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year finished third in the PCL with 12 wins and had the third best ERA in Fresno Grizzlies history with a 2.86 ERA.
A main reason why Rodgers was exceptionally better in 2016 was that he was consistently a starter for Fresno. In a second straight year where he started over 20 games, Rodgers pitched a career high 132 innings and pitched his first two career complete games, including a shutout.
Even though he pitched more than he has ever before, Rodgers became even tougher to hit. Hitters hit only .258 against him in 2016, which was his lowest since 2012. He also struck out 21.4% of batters he faced, tying a career high with his 2012 campaign in strikeout percentage. Also, Rodgers only walked 23 in his 132 innings compared to 25 in his 115.2 innings of work in his first year at Fresno last season.
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The most telling stat of Rodger’s 2016 campaign was his home run numbers. In his first year with the Grizzlies, Rodgers gave up 13 home runs in his 115.2 innings of work. In 2016, he only gave up seven in 132 innings of work. That is only 0.5 per nine innings pitched, which is a career low.
With a solid season under Rodgers’ belt, he has done more than enough to warrant a September call up.
His staying power, however, at the major league level remains to be seen. According to astrosfuture.com, Rodgers “possesses a four pitch mix with a fastball between 88-92 mph, slider, curve, and changeup”. The lack of velocity though would fit right in with the Astros rotation, who at one point this season had a combined velocity that topped out at around 90 mph.
Rodgers has a lot to prove once he makes the jump to the big league level. Right now, the Astros arguably have three starters who have spots in the starting rotation next season in Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Joesph Musgrove. The other two spots are up for grabs.
If Rodgers comes up and pitches well in September and impresses people in Spring Training, the job should be his. More realistically though with his lack of velocity and with Chris Devenski pitching fantastic in 2016, Rodgers may very well take the Scott Feldman long relief role in the bullpen in 2017.
Although it has taken awhile for him to find his groove in professional baseball, 2016 could only be a start for Rodgers’ success. If the Astros believe it as well, he will get his fair share of opportunities in September and next Spring Training.
***Stats provided by FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, and MiLB.com***