BACKGROUND: Roache was originally selected by his hometown Detroit Tigers in the 25th round of the 2009 draft, but elected to go to college instead. It proved to be a wise move for the 6’1″ slugger as he excelled at Georgia Southern University, leading the NCAA in home runs as a sophomore in 2011. A wrist injury suffered early in the 2012 season cost him most of his junior year, but the Brewers went ahead and selected Roache with the 28th overall pick in the first round in 2012 despite the injury.
Roache didn’t make his professional debut until 2013 as his wrist healed, and he got off to a slow start in the Midwest League with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, batting just .202 in the month of May and .214 in June. As he shook off the rust, Roache finally started flashing his big-time power potential, hitting .303 with 8 home runs and 24 runs batted in for the month of July. He finished the 2013 season with a club high 22 home runs.
With his injury in the rearview mirror, Roache moved up to High-A Brevard County to begin the 2014 campaign, but again experienced uneven results. He hit just .175 in April, then had a respectable month of May, hitting .261 with five home runs. The 22-year-old struggled again in June, batting .185 before appearing to turn things back around in the early part of this month, including being honored as the Florida State League’s Player of the Week for the past week.
GAMES SCOUTED: July 11th-13th
July 11th – Roache was in left field and batting third on Friday night for the Manatees. He reached base in three of his four plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
In his first at bat, in the bottom of the first, Roache came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and aggressively went after the first pitch, resulting in a fielder’s choice ground out to short.
His next time up was leading off the bottom of the fourth inning and he promptly lined a base hit back up the middle and in to center field. Charlotte was playing a shift on Roache with the second baseman on the shortstop side of the base, but he did a nice job of going back up the middle to beat the shift for a single.
In his third at bat, in the bottom of the sixth, Roache again stepped to the plate in a two out situation. He took a 2-2 pitch and lined it past the shortstop for his second hit of the game.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Roache stepped to the plate for the final time in the game with a runner on second and two outs. He showed good patience in an RBI situation, working the count full before ultimately drawing a walk.
Defensively, Roache didn’t see much action in Friday’s contest. He had a couple of routine fly balls come his way that he played cleanly. He didn’t show off much of an arm from left as the one throw I saw him make under pressure was neither strong nor very accurate.
July 12th – On Saturday night, Roache was again in left field for Brevard County, but with Orlando Arcia out of the lineup, Roache moved up to the number five spot in the order. He would finish the game going 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and a walk.
Roache went down swinging in each of his first two at bats. In the bottom of the second he led off the inning and took the count to 2-2 before swinging through strike three. Then in the fourth, with a runner on first and nobody out, Roache worked the count full, taking a couple of big hacks, but coming up empty, before again swinging through strike three.
In his third trip to the plate, Roache came up in an RBI situation with a runner on second and two outs. He ran the count full once again before making solid contact on a 3-2 pitch. He drove the pitch to deep center but it was caught on the warning track, just shy of the wall. It was a blast that would have made it out of a lot of parks, but in the Florida State League it went down as just another routine fly out.
Roache’s fourth plate appearance came in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on third and nobody out. Rather than mess with Roache, Charlotte decided to intentionally walk him, setting up Alfredo Rodriguez to come up with the game-winner. Roache only had three chances defensively in the game. He looked shaky going back on a ball in the first inning, and then had a couple of routine fly balls hit his way in the second and sixth.
July 13th – On Sunday, Roache was back in the five hole and again in left field in a late afternoon start. He went 1-for-4 with a home run and a pair of strikeouts.
In the bottom of the first, the Charlotte shift cost Roache a base hit as he grounded out to the second baseman who was shaded around towards short. In his next at bat, leading off the bottom of the third inning, Roache showed the ability to adjust to the shift, going the opposite way with a pitch. The position of the fielders proved irrelevant however, as Roache put a charge in to the pitch and blasted it out to right for a home run.
Roache struck out in his final two at bats. In the fifth, he went down swinging as he chased a two strike pitch, then in the seventh he was called out on a questionable strike three pitch. With the Manatees in command of a 7-1 lead, the umpire’s strike zone appeared to expand and Roache was rung up. It was a quiet day on defense as just one base hit found it’s way in to left field and Roache played it without any issue.
THE SCOUTING REPORT: Power, power, power. Roache has one plus tool and it’s his big-time power. He doesn’t hit for a high average. His defense is sketchy at best in left field. He’s not a speedster and his arm is below average. But his power bat can compensate for many of his other shortcomings if he can make more consistent contact. Roache isn’t a player who will ever hit .300, but if the home run numbers are there, a .250 average should play just fine. Early in his career, Roache has proven to be somewhat of a streaky hitter. Last year his slow start was chalked up to rust, but this year he’s alternated between bad months and good, and his home runs seem to come in bunches. Improved consistency will be key for Roache moving forward, as will his ability to use the whole field. Known as so much of a pull hitter that teams, even at the Single-A level, are starting to employ shifts against him, he will need to start taking the ball the other way or have to learn to deal with the extra fielder on the shortstop side of second base. Roache doesn’t get cheated on his swings very often and has the power to leave the yard even going to the opposite field so an improved approach shouldn’t cost him much if anything in the way of power. Defense is also a major question mark as Roache is already at one of the traditionally easier spots to play defensively, and seems to have his share of troubles in the field.
PROJECTION: Roache is still slightly younger than league average for the Florida State League, so he’s still young enough to develop and make adjustments in some of his areas of weakness. Getting out of the pitcher friendly Florida State League, and Brevard County specifically, should do nothing but help his power numbers. The average needs to come up some, of course, but I saw one ball that should have been a home run and I’d be willing to bet there have been more this summer. If those balls wind up in the seats instead of being caught on the warning track, it obviously helps not only Roache’s power numbers, but his average at the same time. Defensively, there is much work to be done. If he hits enough, I could see a shift to first base somewhere down the line, or perhaps a move to an American League team, but despite his sometimes shaky routes, Roache isn’t a major liability in left field either. A likely move to Double-A next season should go a long way towards showing what Roache’s true value as a prospect will be. If he continues to show similar streakiness and the average stays in the low .200’s that would be a pretty big red flag for the former first rounder. But if he handles the jump and some of the FSL flyouts turn in to home runs, Roache could shoot back up prospect lists due mainly to his impressive strength and home run potential.