Is Jason Rogers a first baseman? A third baseman? An outfielder? While questions remain about his defensive home at the major league level, one thing the Brewers do know about the 26-year-old Rogers is that he can hit and that should result in more opportunities for him in 2016.
Speaking recently at the Brewers Town Hall event at Miller Park, manager Craig Counsell conceded that while first base is probably the best fit for Rogers, he just wants to get his bat in the lineup. “Jason has been a first baseman his entire life” said Counsell. “He played third base the bulk of the season in 2014 in Triple-A and then was kind of moved back to first base this year again, so I think defensively he’s probably a first baseman. We tried him in left field a little bit, but obviously when you start producing offensively you start to try to look for some other ways to get him in the lineup.”
Rogers, who has hit for both power and average throughout his entire career was named as the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year in 2013 and made his Major League debut with Milwaukee in 2014. Last season he appeared in 86 games for the Brewers, making 24 starts at first base, 3 at third and 3 in left field. He also proved to be a valuable bat off the bench, hitting .265 with a pair of home runs as a pinch hitter, but Counsell and company would prefer to get him more regular at bats in 2016.
One way Rogers is staying sharp and preparing for an increased role next season, is by returning to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball this year. After a whirlwind 2013 that saw him get time in both the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League, Rogers opted for time off following the 2014 season, but with his playing time limited last year in Milwaukee, he returned to the Dominican for more at bats this offseason. Playing for the Licey Tigers, Rogers is batting .304 with four doubles, a home run and ten runs batted in through his first 14 games.
Regardless of where he lines up defensively in 2016, the goal is to get more swings for Rogers and make use of his talents at the plate. “I think he produced at a level offensively that really makes you search for ways to get him in the lineup” Counsell added, “so I think we’ll continue to be open to that. I think he probably fits at first base and probably moving around the field a little bit more and maybe playing partially at some of those other positions, but when you continue to produce offensively, you put it on the manager to try to find ways to get you in the lineup and that will continue to happen.”
FALL/WINTER LEAGUE NOTES
– The Puerto Rican Winter League got underway this week, with a pair of Brewers farmhands getting in on the action thus far. 26-year-old catcher Juan Centeno and 22-year-old outfielder Omar Garcia are teammates with Cangrejeros de Santurce with Centeno collecting a pair of hits in his first two games and Garcia seeing time as a late inning defensive replacement.
– Rosters continue to roll in for the inaugural Premier12 event that starts play on Sunday in Japan and Taiwan with several more Brewers selected to participate. Catcher/infielder Robinzon Diaz is on the team for the Dominican Republic while infielder Brandon Macias and pitcher Martin Viramontes were named to Mexico’s team and infielder Hainley Statia was added to the Netherlands roster. They join outfielder Brett Phillips, who will be playing for the United States as well as catcher Dustin Houle and infielders Pete Orr and Taylor Green, who will suit up for Team Canada.
– Meanwhile, in Arizona, infielder Nate Orf is making the most out of his limited AFL opportunities with the Surprise Saguaros. Through seven games, the versatile Orf is batting .464 with a 1.114 OPS and ten runs batted in.
– Finally, in Venezuela, pitcher Junior Guerra continues to impress. Through five starts, Guerra has a record of 2-0 with a 2.76 earned run average. He’s racked up 29 strikeouts while walking just seven in 29.1 innings of work.