Spring Training Report: 3/24/2014
ALWAYS ON THE MOVE, ROGERS TAKING ON THIRD BASE
The 2013 season was a hectic one for Brewers prospect Jason Rogers. It was a season that took him from Alabama to Arizona, and ultimately wrapped up in the Dominican Republic.
The 6’2″ slugger played 164 games in total, including 133 for Double-A Huntsville. The Brewers then sent Rogers to the Arizona Fall League where he played another 18 games. And if that wasn’t enough, he decided to play another 13 games of winter ball in the Dominican. But the heavy workload was all by design for the 26-year-old Rogers.
“I just wanted to get the experience” said Rogers. “It was a good experience for me. I was tired so I learned how to play through it and make the adjustments while I’m tired because that’s going to happen throughout the season. So it’s helped me a lot. Bigger crowds. Pitching. Pitching was great. Competitive pitching down there, so it’s going to help me out for the long run.”
During his time with Huntsville last season, Rogers hit .270 with 25 doubles, 22 home runs and 87 runs batted in. Those numbers garnered him the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year award.
“I’m honored because it shows how much they liked the way I played last year” Rogers said. “It shows what I can do. It shows my ability, and what I can do when I’m getting the chance to play every day.”
The Brewers liked the way that Rogers played so much, in fact, that they added him to the 40-man roster this past offseason. He spent the early part of Spring Training in Milwaukee’s Major League camp before being optioned to Nashville on March 10th, and says camp has been going well.
“It’s been good” said Rogers. “Really just been working on more defensive stuff. Especially now that I’m switching positions so I’m trying to get used to third. My hitting’s fine. I haven’t really had a break so my swing’s still in shape. ”
The move to third is of definite interest to Brewers fans, as the slugger from Georgia has just one pro game – his first season (2010) in the AZL – under his belt. When asked about the move to third, Rogers indicated it was more than just a brief experiment. The position is set to be his new home for the upcoming season.
“Yeah it’s actually part of the new change they’re making” said Rogers. “It’s part of to get me to the big leagues. So whatever’s best. I’ll play whatever. I played it in college so I’ve just got to get my feet work and all that stuff back in to it. Get more games and stuff under me, so it’ll be alright.”
With the move to the “hot corner”, Rogers has different goals in mind for himself this season than in years past.
“Probably this year are more defensive goals” he said. “The biggest thing is to stay healthy. Have to stay healthy. I have little small goals I have that will help me in the future, but mostly just stay healthy, play good defense this year really.”
It’s unclear at this point if Rogers will begin the season at Tiple-A Nashville or return to Huntsville to work on his new position. But with Aramis Ramirez not getting any younger and possible headed to free agency at season’s end, it would be huge if Rogers can successfully make the move to third base, giving the Brewers a younger option at a position of need.
My time in Arizona is winding down, as we start our journey home tomorrow evening, but that still leaves a little more time for baseball. Today we went to the Peoria Sports Complex to see Brevard County and Wisconsin against the Padres. Here are a few quick observations from this afternoon’s games.
– Angel Ortega is going to be very fun to watch in Wisconsin this season. He and Nathan Orf combined to turn a beauty of a double play in the Rattlers game this afternoon. Ortega made a diving stop on a ball hit back up the middle, flipped to Orf, who barehanded the toss and made the pivot to complete the double play.
– Another player that is going to be exciting to watch this season is outfielder Johnny Davis. I got to see him showcase his wheels late in the Rattlers game today when he hit a high chopper back to the mound. He flew down the line and forced the pitcher to rush his throw, which he spiked in the dirt. The throw got by the first baseman and Davis took not one, but two extra bases, moving all the way to third.
_ Zach Quintana looked fantastic on the mound for the Rattlers, tossing four scoreless innings and allowing just a couple of hits. I also got my first look at Gian Rizzo, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for Brevard County.
– Brevard County’s offense couldn’t get much going against Padres starter Joe Ross, but outfielder Chadwin Stang clubbed a two-run home run to left field for the Manatees. Stang has some quick hands and can really turn on a pitch.
– The lineup shuffling continued today in the Manatees game. Alfredo Rodriguez got the start at shortstop, with Yadiel Rivera starting at second base. About halfway through the game, Rodriguez moved to second and Orlando Arcia came in at short. One other lineup note, infielder Brandon Macias saw action in left field this afternoon for Brevard County.
The Brewers minor league teams will be going up against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim affiliates on Tuesday. Nashville and Huntsville go to Tempe to play the Salt Lake Bees and the Arkansas Travelers. Johnny Hellweg will get the start for Nashville with Taylor Jungmann on the mound for Huntsville. There will be three games held at Maryvale Baseball Park. The Brevard County Manatees go up against the Inland Empire 66ers with jed Bradley starting for Brevard. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers take on the Burlington Bees behind starter Anthony Banda. And the Helena Brewers will face the Langley Blaze. No word on the starting pitcher for that game yet. All games have a 1:00 start time.