When a player makes his Major League debut is when the eyes start to follow him, and his name starts to be recognized. What is never taken into consideration is the work that has to be done to make it to that point. Each level of the minor leagues is a new challenge. A new thrill.
2018 has brought the start of a new baseball season with new opportunities, and one person that has not been lost on is Josh Rogers.
Rogers is a left-handed pitcher out of New Albany, Indiana. He has started the season with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders which is the first time he is experiencing the Triple-A level.
“I’m just trying to not come in with too much,” Rogers said.”I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and learn from the guys that have been here and the guys that are here and just take it day-by-day. I’m excited to be here.”
The transition to a new level of the minor leagues always comes with it’s growing pains but having friends you’ve been through the journey with always helps. For Rogers, those friends come in the form of Brady Lail and Daniel Camerena. Both veterans of the Triple-A level, he has been able to speak with them and get an idea of what he can expect from the next level in his career.
Lail and Camerena are not the only familiar faces to Rogers. He also has the new Scranton Wilkes-Barre manager, Bobby Mitchell, to lean on from his days with the Double-A Trenton Thunder.
“I think [having Mitchell] helps a lot,” Rogers said. “I had a good relationship with Bobby last year from when I was in Double-A for a couple of months. He’s a great manager and a lot of fun to be around. He’s a fellow lefty; we always give each other jokes about that.”
Rogers’Triple-A season was turned on its head right out of the gate. He was slated to start the year in the bullpen but injuries and an extra-inning game for the Yankees saw two starters from the rotation get called up on day two. That thrusted Rogers back into the starting rotation.
“I was so much more comfortable, to be honest,” Rogers said. “I had never come out of the bullpen, so I was a little uncomfortable out there yesterday with if I was going to have to come into the game what kind of routine was I going to go through. So it felt way better to go back into a routine and just go out there and try to compete.”
Rogers, thus far, has shown just how comfortable he has felt in the starting rotation. After two starts he is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 14 strikeouts. He has also only walked three hitters over 12 innings pitched.
“When [Rogers] works with good tempo and he throws strikes he gets to be tougher and tougher and tougher,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “When he’s effective he is down [in the zone].”
Rogers’ arsenal features a low 90’s fastball, and he mixes in a change-up that is a work in progress, but his best pitch is by far his slider. Mitchell said he’s a guy that won’t overpower hitters, but he can pitch. The key for Rogers is to be around the plate and keep the ball down. If he does that Mitchell said he can be very effective.
“I’m just trying to take it one day at a time,” Rogers said. “I’m excited to be here in Triple-A and in Scranton. Whatever happens, happens. I’m healthy, and I’m just going to try to contribute to the team and help my team have a chance to win whether that is starting or coming out of the bullpen whatever that may be. I’m just trying to give them a chance to win.”