PITTSBURGH — Endy Rodríguez knew something was wrong.
The 23-year-old catcher, the third-ranked contender in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system, was disqualified from Sunday’s game at the Triple-A Indianapolis. It was only after an 11-4 win over Omaha that coach Miguel Pérez announced that Rodríguez was on his way to the big leagues.
“Sunday I got out and said, ‘No, they have something for me,'” Rodríguez recalled Monday.
Rodríguez was recalled from Indianapolis and included in the Pirates’ roster, where he made his big league debut as a seventh and catcher in the series opener against Cleveland. Quinn Priester, a 22-year-old right-hander, started on his major league debut as the Pirates lost 11-0.
According to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, Priester, born September 15, 2000, and Rodríguez, born May 26, 2000, became the first Major League Baseball regulars born in 2000 or later. It was the first starting battery for the Pirates since Cookie Cuccurullo pitched Hank Camelli on October 3, 1943.
Rodríguez was 0 of 4 with three strikeouts.
“It felt good. It felt great,” said Rodríguez. “Tomorrow is a new day, isn’t it? … I wasn’t nervous. I saw the ball well.”
Priest, the fourth-place pick in the Pirates system, allowed seven runs, seven hits, and two walks in 5⅓ innings.
“It’s a debut. That only happens once, for both of us,”priest said. “Maybe not in the way you wished, but a really exciting day in our lives nonetheless. We need to take as much good as we can from today and learn from the bad.”
Rodríguez hit .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 67 games with Indianapolis this season and played in the All-Star Futures Game. He was acquired by the New York Mets on January 19, 2021 in a three-team transfer that also included San Diego.
A youth movement has sprung up in Pittsburgh, led by Henry Davis, who was promoted from Indianapolis on June 19. The Pirates are 41-53, a season-high 12 games under .500 after a 20-8 start.
“The future is here, man. I know we’re going to achieve something special with this team,” said Rodríguez. “Someday we will do the best job. I know we have a lot of younger players here and I think we have the talent. We’re going to do something special.”
1 pick overall in the 2021 amateur draft, 23-year-old Davis has played primarily at right field since his promotion. He hits .271 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 24 games.
“I’ll catch here. That’s my position,” Rodríguez said. “But if they think I’m playing in other places, I don’t care. I just want to play. I’m just having fun and I want to help the team.”
Infielder Nick Gonzales, 24, was called from Indianapolis just five days after Davis. Jared Triolo, a 25-year-old infielder, debuted June 28.
“Honestly, we thought we’d see all these guys again eventually,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “To say that we thought we’d see them all together, I don’t think we thought that.”
Priest, drafted 18th overall by the Pirates in 2019, used nine pitches (seven strikes) to endure a perfect first inning after a 47-minute rain delay. He gave up his first nine batters before defeating Steven Kwan and giving up Amed Rosario’s two-run homer.
“I think we could see [Priester’s] Stuff”, Andrés Giménez of Cleveland. “Obviously he attacked us with the fastball early in the attacking zone.” We saw the effect of his pitches. We were able to implement it the second time around.”
“I’m just getting a feeling,” Priester said. “To feel that confidence, to feel the game situation and to learn. In the end, I might have failed a little tonight, but those failures will drive me to do better.”
Liover Peguero, a 22-year-old infielder, was promoted along with Rodríguez. Peguero played one game last year and went 3-1 with a walk and two strikeouts in a 7-5 loss to San Francisco on June 18.
“Other than we’re all different ages and all that, I feel like we have the same mindset and I have a feeling that’s going to be a big thing for us,” Peguero said.
Catcher Jason Delay, right-hander pitcher Cody Bolton and outfielder Josh Palacios were selected to Indianapolis, and outfielder Travis Swaggerty was designated for the assignment.
Peguero said Rodríguez almost cried when discussing her promotion. Rodríguez wasn’t afraid to admit he cried three times.
“I’m not a big screamer. I can’t talk to anyone right now,” Rodríguez said. “I can’t express my feelings. I have thought a lot. The scream came and I said, ‘I hate you. Stop doing that. You’re not like that.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.