Name: Brendan Rodgers
Height/Weight: 6’00’’, 185
I have been writing player profiles for the draft since February. I have written on players who are projected to go anywhere from the first to the 10h rounds. I have written about college and prep players. I have written on almost every one of my top-10 players in the draft. Yet I realized this week that I hadn’t written a capsule on the consensus top player in this class: Brendan Rodgers.
I actually debated if I should bother with a capsule because Rodgers is so well known to anyone who follows the draft closely. In the end, I saw no way I could go through this whole process and not write on the first consensus number one player since Bryce Harper in 2010.
Rodgers season is already done as his team did not make the Florida High School playoffs. This should be viewed as a net positive for Rodgers since he has the top spot already sewn up and with the jinx on this year’s class, it will help him avoid injury. I am still waiting for him to get hurt playing Guitar Hero or something like that with the way this class has gone.
Being healthy isn’t the only reason Rodgers is a consensus top prospect in this draft. So what is it that makes Rodgers so special?
The two hardest commodities to find in baseball right now are shortstops and right-handed power. Rodgers projects to be an everyday MLB shortstop with an above-average to plus arm and average to above-average defense while also providing plus right handed power at the plate. His hit tool also projects as plus. His speed is above-average, as well. He has no tool that projects out as below-average. He might be a prep player but most people agree that he is one of the safest players at the top of this draft. I would put his floor as higher than fellow top draft prospects Kyle Funkhouser or Dillon Tate at this point. Rodgers is as safe as any high school player can be.
The only knock on Rodgers is that he is a bit undersized and just about maxed out physically at 190. Yet his bat speed and strength still project for him to have plus power despite being undersized. I don’t mean plus power for a shortstop either; I mean plus power for any position. His bat can play anywhere; it would just maximize his value if it was at short.
I want to point out he is only undersized as a power hitter. He is around the average height for a shortstop. When it comes to shortstop, there are more issues with players out-growing the position than anyone being too small to play there.
A year ago, I think Rodgers would have been the fourth pick in the draft. I would have rated him third after 2014 top-five picks Carlos Rodon and Brady Aiken. It would have been tight between him and Tyler Kolek, but I would have leaned towards the safer player. I have been guilty as anyone about talking about the weakness of this class but Rodgers is still a very good prospect. He should be the top prospect in virtually any system he joins.
Reports indicate that Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart has scouted in person 25 players this year. Most general managers see fewer than 10 players. Stewart doesn’t even have to worry someone will take the player he likes. I am not sure if they will take Rodgers I have a feeling that might lean college over prep. Rodgers’ floor is the second pick. If the Diamondbacks pass, he will join the Astros and they can sort out their up-the-middle plus power riches later.
My comparison for Rodgers is a bit different. I don’t see any shortstop that I would comp him to at his ceiling, but there is another player who really fits his mold: Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. If Houston Astros’ top prospect Carlos Correa were to establish himself at shortstop, which I think most everyone expects him to do, then Correa could force Rodgers to third if Rodgers winds up with Houston. Donaldson, like Rodgers, is a six foot tall right handed bat with a strong arm and plus defense. I know people might see 24 and 29 homerun seasons for Donaldson and scoff at the idea of plus power. The game has changed, however. Donaldson was 20th in all of baseball in ISO last year. Rodgers’ arm and defense would play up and be plus skills if Rodgers had to shift because shortstop was already taken. The bat and power potential are much like Donaldson’s. They are similar sized, right handed bats, with power and defense. Rodgers runs better than Donaldson, a former catchers, does, however.
At the end of the day, Rodgers should be the first pick in this draft. I am not saying he will be the best player – there are guys who, thanks to a plethora of reasons, have a higher upside – yet the rare combination of power and defense at shortstop make Rodgers the most valuable player in this draft in my eyes. He has the best combination of floor and ceiling at the hardest position to find a bat at; on top of that he brings the most expensive commodity in baseball thanks to his right-handed power. If the Diamondbacks pass on Rodgers I think it will be a decision they end up regretting down the line.