It’s been awhile since I have gone through some of the Tigers prospects in depth, but it’s that time of year where there isn’t much going on with the big club, so I will try and get some of players on our top 50 list profiled for you all. Joe Rogers was 23rd on the top 50 list that I finished up a little over a month ago. Feel free to check that list out in full here.
Rogers is a left-handed pitcher that was drafted in the 2012 draft out of Central Florida in the 5th round. A reliever in college, after signing with the Tigers, Rogers pitched in that same role with the short-season Connecticut Tigers in 2012. Getting into 18 games with the C-Tigers, Rogers showed good potential, posting an ERA of 2.28 in 23.2 innings. In those 23.2 innings, Rogers struck out 28 batters, held opponents to an average of just .22o, while also generating a lot of ground balls. Rogers will be 22 years old when the 2013 season begins, so he is likely going to be slated for either West Michigan or Lakeland at the start of the year.
Rogers is somewhat of a tweener. He has been a reliever the past couple of years in college, but does own a three pitch mix that has potential to be useful in a starting role. There has been some talk of the Tigers using Rogers in a starting role, at least initially, in 2013. His body is conducive to starting, as he is a physical 6’1″ and 205 lbs, and should be able to hold up over six or seven innings every five days. As mentioned, Rogers owns three pitches, a fastball, curve, and a change.
Rogers fastball typically sits in the low 90′s as a reliever. Anywhere from 91-93, with a little bit of rising action. As a starter, that velocity is more likely to be 89-91, but still plenty for a left handed pitcher. Rogers doesn’t show great command at this point of his fastball, and will have to get better at locating it as he moves up the ladder. Especially if he is thrust into a starting role. His delivery is clean and he repeats it well.
Rogers best secondary pitch is his curve ball. It has earned above average grades with scouts, and he shows the ability to throw it for strikes, or use it as a swing and miss pitch, burying it into the feet of right handed hitters.
Rogers last pitch is the change, and while it does lag behind his other two offerings, there are many that believe he could have at least an average change up down the road. It isn’t really consistent right now because he didn’t really need to use it much in college, but Rogers does show good arm action, and it will likely be the key in whether or not he becomes a starter.
Rogers I believe should be tried as a starter, and if he is, it is going to take him a couple of years in the minors to hone his craft. However, there is more value in him being a starter, especially considering he has potential for two above average pitches in his fastball and curve. There isn’t much projectability left for Rogers, so his fastball isn’t going to see much of an increase in velocity, if at all.
Best case scenario Rogers ends up a 5th starter type. If not, he could be a useful lefty reliever, and one that could move quickly. I can see a case here where the Tigers potential need for a reliever might push his timetable and ultimately settle him into that relief role, instead of being patient and seeing if he can take to a starting pitching role.