"It's been really emotional," Rodgers said. "Not too many kids get to say [they get] to play for the team that they grew up watching and put on the jersey for a big league team they grew up loving."
Rodgers joins right-handers Jandel Gustave and James Hoyt and infielder Tyler White in the Astros' first wave of September callups. Manager A.J. Hinch expects another wave to come after Fresno's season ends on Monday.
Rodgers, the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, is the only one of the callups who has not played with the Astros this year. He went 12-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts with Fresno this season.
"He's not a guy who's been on the prospect lists or getting a lot acclaim," said Hinch of Rodgers, the Astros' No. 22 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. "But he's a guy who's performed his way to the big leagues, and he's done it by tweaking his arsenal a little bit."
That tweak was the addition of a slider. Rodgers said that a five-minute conversation with Luke Gregerson during Spring Training was all he needed to add the pitch to his mix.
"I think that worked wonders for me this year and gave me a two-strike pitch to put guys away," said Rodgers, who struck out 116 batters in 132 innings with Fresno. "Any time it was 0-2 or 1-2, I could go to that pitch and do great with it and get anybody out."
Rodgers is expected to work in middle relief with the Astros. He and the other three callups add insurance for the Astros' upcoming stretch of the 13 straight games against first-place teams.
"It's not wholesale, but it is adding some depth to protect us on the back end," Hinch said. "Nobody coming up is slated to have a primary role on our team, but you never know."
Hoyt, the team's No. 16 prospect, will be making his second stint with Houston this year. He struck out nine batters in 8 2/3 innings before being sent back down.
Gustave, the team's 26th-ranked prospect, will also be making his second stint with the Astros. He's pitched in three games, allowing one run in 3 1/3 innings.
This will be White's third stint with the Astros this season. He was on the team's Opening Day roster and hit .209 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 67 games in the Majors this year.