Brendan Rodgers dishes on renewed focus and lessons learned

Oct 3, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Brendan Rodgers (7) waits on deck against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of people have had a lot of things to say about Brendan Rodgers ever since he was taken third overall in the 2015 draft by the Colorado Rockies.

A prodigious prospect out of Lake Mary High School in Florida, Rodgers was considered by many scouts and evaluators to be the single most talented player in the draft, but it was also understood that he would be more of a long-term project since he was coming straight out of high school.

Still, he flourished in the Rockies organization throughout his minor league career, posting even better numbers than some of the exciting farm hands who had come before him, guys like Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Ryan McMahon.

The only issue he dealt with was injuries but despite those setbacks he was still able to make his MLB debut at age 22 back in 2019.

Unfortunately, the makeup of the Rockies roster, more injury issues, and some struggles adjusting to big-league ball led to a frustrating lack of production in just 32 games played over his first two campaigns.

Like a lot of players, or people in general, the global pandemic did absolutely no favors for his progress either.

But 2021 was different.

He did get off to a bit of a slow start once working back into the lineup but he recovered quickly, finished the season strong, and ended up being the Rockies best road hitter over his 102 games played.

Slashing .284/.328/.470 with 15 home runs (12 on the road) in what amounted to his true rookie season was a good first start. Manager Bud Black either having the belief in him or wanting to issue a challenge, often would slot him into the second spot in the lineup.

“That was a huge confidence booster,” Rodgers says. “When I was in the seven hole, I wouldn’t say it was beating my confidence up, but being in the heart of that order, with guys in front of me and behind me doing damage, it definitely takes a little pressure off. It gives me a bit more confidence to go up there and play well for this team.”

That added confidence led to production away from Coors Field that has rarely been seen throughout the team’s history. It’s a small sample size in the grand scheme of things and fans shouldn’t necessarily expect it to continue, but in his first taste of dealing with the Hangover Effect, Rodgers handled it as well as anyone.

“I think a lot has to do with playing at sea level my whole life,” he says. “I’ve never really experienced altitude until the last couple of years. The ball does move less at home and more on the road. I’m maybe used to it moving a little more.” 

He also believes that he is reaping the benefits of a new(ish) hitting machine the club has been taking with them on the road as part of a Charlie Blackmon-led revolution in trying to solve this unique problem.

“I hit a lot off that machine on the road,” he tells me. “I think picking up the spin early and doing machine rounds early really helped me and I’m going to keep doing that this year.

So if that element of his game is firmly in the “don’t fix what ain’t broke” category, what is his primary focus for his sophomore season? And what did he glean from his first?

“I think I’m starting to learn how pitcher are trying to attack me early,” he says. “I think the word has gotten out that I’m a pretty aggressive hitter. I don’t mind that. I take pride in being ready from pitch one. But the main thing I’m going to focus on this year is to get my walks up just a little bit. I’ve never been a huge walk guy throughout the minors. I’m not up there looking to walk. But when the time comes I need to take those walks.”

Especially because once you establish that reputation, pitchers will have to challenge you more?

“Exactly,” he says with a smile. Apparently, he feels ready for the challenge.

A lot of people have had a lot of things to say about Brendan Rodgers over the years. Now, with a bit of experience under his belt and an established place in the middle of the Rockies order, it’s time to let his bat do the talking.

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