Marianna, Fla.--One of the top junior college catchers in the country from a family with a long history of producing outstanding baseball players, 6-2, 210 Mike Rojas from Chipola Junior College committed to the Auburn Tigers as part of a whirlwind courtship that began this summer.
On campus for the first time this week for an official visit as he prepares to begin classes at Auburn in early August, the upcoming sophomore said it’s crazy how quickly things changed for him and he can’t wait to get his Auburn career underway.
“I have always had a lifetime dream of coming to play Division I baseball,” Rojas told Inside the Auburn Tigers. “To have the opportunity to get contacted by Coach Bo (Brad Bohannon) and Coach Butch (Butch Thompson) and have the opportunity to come to Auburn on a four-year scholarship, I couldn’t turn it down. It’s a dream come true and I had to take it.”
Drafted in the 40th round by the Seattle Mariners coming out of Gulf Coast High in Naples, Fla., Rojas decided to attend Chipola with the hopes of boosting his draft stock. Despite hitting .339 with four home runs and 28 RBI in 45 games while sharing time at the position, Rojas wasn’t picked this time around. When the call came from Bohannon and the opportunity to play for Auburn in the SEC was presented, Rojas jumped on the opportunity.
“It was very important to me,” Rojas said of the league. “SEC baseball is very important to everyone. It’s one of the best divisions in college baseball and that helped me make my decision.”
A teammate last season at Chipola of incoming Auburn junior infielder Jay Estes, Rojas said when he started hearing from the Tigers it didn’t take him long to get the full court press from Estes and that opened his eyes to the program and university.
“I got a text message one night and I was at a movie,” Rojas said. “It just said, ‘Are you interested in Auburn?’ I said yes. How could I not be? I got contacted the next day and my buddy, Jay Estes at Chipola, said he loves it.
“I had heard nothing but good things,” he added. “He told me the experience was something else. He said it’s a different environment and very laid back. He said the lifestyle there is professional.”
Finally getting the chance to see Auburn for himself, Rojas said everything Estes told him about the place was true and more.
“I got there and I was just in awe,” Rojas said of his visit. “It was better than what he told me. It just gave me chills to think that I’m going to be able to play baseball in that stadium. It’s a great thing.”
The grandson of legendary Cuban ballplayer and Major League Baseball manager Cookie Rojas and the son of 12-year veteran bullpen coach Mike Rojas, the newest Tiger is expected to come in and challenge for playing time right away behind the plate for Coach Butch Thompson. Blake Logan, Kyler Deese and Jonathan Foster all return with experience, but Rojas said he’s coming in ready to compete for a job.
“They just basically told me they needed another catcher,” Rojas said. “I’m here to make the program better. I’m not here to take anyone’s spot...well I am, but I’m going to play hard ball and make this program the best program in the nation.”
Anxious to carry on his family name in the baseball world, Rojas said that’s a driving force behind his play when he takes the field every day. He added that he’s looking forward to bringing that with him to the Plains beginning this fall for the Tigers.
“It started with my grandpa and having him in my family is a big thing,” Rojas said. “He said a big example for us and we have to follow in his footsteps. My dad and his brothers all made it to the big leagues as either broadcasters or big league coaches. Knowing I have the bloodlines to do it and have the pathway drawn out is very special. I wake up every morning and having the name Rojas makes me want to get better.”