Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Getting to Know Tri-City C Jake Rogers

According to ValleyCats Manager Lamarr Rogers, the Astros 2016 third round pick Jake Rogers "comes as prescribed." Of the Tulane University catching prospect, he said,"He can catch. He can throw. He can receive. He does an excellent job receiving. He's got a great personality on him as well. Definitely a bright future. From a catching standpoint, I think the sky's the limit for Jake."

Pitching Coach Drew French had a similar assessment, "Jake is one of the better receivers that I have seen around, especially coming straight out of college. It's really nice how he works with our pitchers. He gets strikes called that may be marginal, questionable strikes."

Jake Rogers - July 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

When I first met Jake Rogers last week at "The Joe" in Troy, New York, I quizzed him about his Texas connection. He was born in Canyon, Texas, just south of Amarillo in the Panhandle and has family in Lubbock as well.

Of his college experience in New Orleans at Tulane, he said, "It was definitely different than West Texas. I enjoyed it because New Orleans is awesome. I loved it and the food was great. I had good times. It's great to go out and fish. And the guys were great and the coaches were great. It was overall a great experience."

Rogers knew that the Astros were one of the top teams that were interested in drafting him. "Of course, being a Texas boy, I thought it would be pretty cool to get drafted by a Texas team, but I didn't know who was going to take me on draft day. It happened to work out and the Astros took me and it's exciting. I was in Lubbock at my brother's house with my family and it was a really exciting time," said Rogers.

When asked to give a scouting report on himself, Rogers told me, "I pride myself on catching and I think that's what players love about me is I can catch. I can receive well and throw pretty well. I just pride myself on that and hitting too. People think that it's a hole, but I don't think so at all. I think my confidence is good and everything's going to start falling."

Out of the many talented pitchers on the ValleyCats staff, who is the most fun to catch? "I like them all honestly, but my favorite is Hector Perez because he's got good stuff [Perez was subsequently promoted to Quad Cities]. He's got major league stuff and he's always fun. He can throw it. I've loved catching him," said Rogers. Rogers also cited Perez and his fellow right-hander Erasmo Pinales as pitchers he would least like to face in the batters box, "Some good stuff there. I wouldn't want to be there. That's for sure."

As far as challenges in catching this staff, Rogers said, "I haven't really caught many splitters in my day and there are a lot of guys who throw them. Hector [Perez] is one of them. [Sebastian] Kessay is one of them. That's a really tough pitch to catch because it's like a knuckleball kind of. I'd say the guys who throw the splitter (are) the toughest."

In his short time as a pro, Rogers hasn't had too many surprises, "I had a lot of friends that have been here. I was pretty well prepared. They said the travel is going to be pretty hard, the bus rides. We just got back from seven hours to West Virginia and seven hours back from Ohio. It's tough, definitely, getting back at 6:00 in the morning and playing that night. I think that's the most difficult thing, but I've loved it so far. I have Austin Nicely as a roommate and he's been really good with helping me get acclimated. It's been fun and I've enjoyed it."

Contemplating a life in which Rogers couldn't play baseball, he'd still want to stay involved with the game. "I love the game so much. I'd probably have to be around it coaching or something. I just love being in the park. Who wouldn't want to? This is a great venue and the greatest game on earth. So I'd have to be around it somehow."

When asked for something most people might not know about him, Rogers said, "I'm a very outdoorsy guy. I like just being outdoors, hunting and fishing. Anything with family is fun. It's baseball when I'm here and hunting when I go back home so that's about it."

Hmmmm. A baseball player who likes to hunt and fish. Not exactly shocking, but when I pressed him further, he told me that he has a passion for good food. "I'm a huge food guy. My family is too. We'd go down to New Orleans (and) we'd try a different place every time they came down. Huge sweets. I love sweets. Bread pudding is my favorite and New Orleans is the place to be if you want some good bread pudding. Sweets and food. I can definitely eat a lot of it."

At that point, Rogers was off on a tangent about restaurants in New Orleans and was daydreaming about White Chocolate Bread Pudding. And that's where we left things. We actually engaged in several tangents during our conversation and I enjoyed it all.

Thank you for your time, Jake, and best of luck as the season continues.

Other recent interviews:
Hector Perez and Randy Cesar
Carmen Benedetti

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