Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jason Rogers: Beefin' Up the Bench

Jason Rogers, 27, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 32nd round of the 2010 draft from Columbus State University. He advanced through the farm system a level at a time with a couple of stops in the Arizona Fall League, showing some power and a good average with decent plate discipline.

In 2013, he became a bright blip on the Brew Crew radar. While at AA Huntsville, he was named the Brewers' Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .270/.346/.468 with 22 home runs and a Southern League high 87 RBIs in 133 games, and was added to the 40-man roster during the off season. Jason has 546 minor league games on his resume with an overall .290 BA and .372 OBP.

Jason Rogers (photo Scott Kane/USA Today)
Rogers, a right handed stick, slashed .296/.367/.441 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 152 at-bats for Milwaukee last year in a pair of stints with the big club after tearing it up at AAA Colorado Springs (.344/.449/.607 w/1.056 OPS and eight homers). He started 22 games at first base, two in left field and one at third base.

Best suited as first baseman, he's probably not going to see much time there except as an insurance policy. Rogers looked like the heir apparent to Adam Lind in Milwaukee, though this deal squelched that view. And with the acquisition of John Jaso, he doesn't look like part of the mix for platoon duty in Pittsburgh, at least as Plan A.

Rogers put in time at third base from the 2014 season and has 132 games at the hot corner since, albeit with 26 boots, but could see some duty at third until Jung Ho Kang is up to speed. He also can play left field, but his arm and speed aren't plus tools (maybe not even average), so PNC Park isn't a real good fit for him as far as the pasture is concerned, although some road starts could be in cards.

He's a good stick and mediocre, tho somewhat versatile, glove addition to the bench. His reverse split (.306 v RHP, .263 v LHP) in a small MLB sample of 169 PA suggests that he's the equivalent of a switch hitter, which makes him valuable as a pinch hitter; he put up a .283 BA off the pine last year. Rogers also shows good plate discipline, and that seems to be a factor in the FO's roster construction this season, along with their usual eye for positional versatility.

And though Rogers is 27, he has a potentially long shelf life. He's still pre-arb regarding service time, and won't be eligible for arbitration until 2018. Jason has at least one more option, too, so he's a roster friendly addition to the club.

The bench, long a sore point for the Bucs, looks pretty solid right now. If Kang is on the active roster after camp, it looks like Rogers, Morse/Jaso, S-Rod and Chris Stewart are the front runners for the cavalry, along with a fourth outfielder TBD. And that's what this deal is about, strengthening the club down to its 25th man.

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