A Day In The Life: Brendan Rodgers
The Day In The Life series leading up to the 2014 draft featured many of the highest-drafted prep players, including No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken (Astros), No. 2 pick Tyler Kolek (Marlins), No. 12 pick Kodi Medeiros (Brewers), No. 24 Cole Tucker (Pirates) and supplemental first-rounder Jacob Gatewood (Brewers).
This episode features potential 2015 first-overall pick Brendan Rodgers.
Even in a draft that could include potential impact arms such as unsigned 2014 No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, Duke righthander Mike Matuella and unsigned 2013 first-rounder Phil Bickford, Florida prep shortstop Brendan Rodgers has emerged as the potential top pick after a tremendous summer and fall of showing off his power and strong throwing arm.
But the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Rodgers, for all his work ethic and natural talent, knows he wouldn’t have gotten to this place without some luck.
The Rodgers household was one of soccer players. Brendan’s dad, Greg, played and coached soccer and both of Brendan’s brothers did. But one day, Ralph Nenna, a neighbor of the Rodgers and the father of Brendan’s best friend, asked Brendan to pick up a baseball and just see if he liked the game.
Brendan was five years old. He picked up the ball and hasn’t let it go.
"We didn't do baseball in this family; we're a soccer family," said Julie Rodgers, Brendan’s mother, “but we always say to Ralph, ‘If not because of you, Brendan would not have played baseball.’
“Brendan picked up the little ball and never picked up a soccer ball,” she said.
Brendan played other sports, too, such as basketball, football, but nothing grabbed him like baseball.
“When I was five, six years old in elementary school, I always said I wanted to be a baseball player,” he said. “And people would say, ‘no seriously,’ and I'd say, ‘That's what I want to be.’ It's just believing in myself.”
Now the rising senior, 18, has Major League Baseball believing in him. Rodgers says most of the teams picking near the top of the 2015 draft have already made home visits, telling him they want him.
“But really, there's no pressure. I don't think about where I might end up,” he said.
You might think a teenager who’s had MLB executives into his home on several occasions might get a little starry-eyed or look past the fact that, oh yeah, he still has to play his senior season. But his father said that’s not the case.
“He's kind of low-key, and stays humble,” Greg Rodgers said. “He's working out all the time and he sees the reports and sees the emails, but doesn't say a whole lot about them. Basically, he just continues to work.”
Rodgers is an advanced high school hitter with great instincts and feel for the game who has the potential to hit for average and power while remaining at shortstop.
Matt Gerber, who has coached Rodgers with the Orlando Scorpions, one of the longest-running travel baseball programs in the country, says scouts sometimes don’t see the other factors.
“One thing that gets overlooked is his leadership qualities,” said Gerber, who said he’s seen hundreds of Rodgers’ at-bats. “With the talent he has, the kids look up to him. He does an extremely good job setting the bar. For me, he's going to stick at shortstop. From what I've heard from scouts, the ceiling is a healthy (Troy) Tulowitzki and the floor is J.J. Hardy.”
Rodgers committed to Florida State after his sophomore year, and despite all that has been written about his chances to be the No. 1 pick, he says he’s well aware of what happened with Brady Aiken’s situation in Houston and says his “eye is still on college.”
“Obviously, my first dream and goal was to be committed to a D-1 program,” he said. “It’s still a very high option.”
Rodgers’ dad says the family has kept in touch with head coach Mike Martin and recruiting coordinator Mike Martin Jr. at FSU and that both sides understand the situation.
“(Brendan) kind of keeps it to himself in the back of his mind,” Greg Rodgers said. “Either way, he's looking to play professional baseball, whether it's June or three years from now.”
Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects For 2019
Considering the state of offense in the PCL, it's no surprise 15 of the 20 best prospects are bats.
Gerber says area scouts he’s spoken to worry that Rodgers might be overaggressive at the plate, but “he's so strong and so gifted, he hits mistakes out of the park. But he's facing high school pitching. At the next level, if he expanding the zone, that could lead to trouble.”
Still, Gerber says, “The power's there and he can stick at short. He's got all the tools.”
Rodgers’ high school coach, Allen Tuttle, agrees.
“He amazes you at shortstop and hits the ball as far as any shortstop I've seen,” said Tuttle, who’s entering his 32nd year at Lake Mary (Fla.) High. “But he really, really takes pride in his defense. He has a great arm. Come February, this place'll be packed with scouts.”
Despite all that’s been written about his draft status, Rodgers has maintained a low-key approach to this season and beyond.
“I read it all, but I try not to get a big head and just go out and play the game I've played since I was 5.”
That could pay off for him as soon as next June.