Name: Kelvin Rojas
Before this season, Kelvin Rojas was a little-known name in the Oakland A's system. However, he has raised his profile significantly with a big season for the Arizona Rookie League Athletics. The Dominican-born outfielder is currently batting .414 with a .476 OBP and a .586 SLG.
He has been a model of consistency throughout the season for the AZL A's, batting at least .400 in each month this season. He is currently batting .429 in 14 August games and had a four hit night for the AZL A's on Thursday.
"Kelvin Rojas has put up amazing numbers in a very difficult league," A's Director of Player Personnel Keith Lieppman said.
"We haven't had a Latin player perform and put up those numbers as long as I can remember."
Rojas was signed by the A's as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. After two non-descript years in the Dominican Summer League, Rojas put together a solid campaign for the A's DSL squad in 2009. He hit .265/.344/.457 and was named to the league's mid-season all-star team.
The next season the A's brought Rojas over to the States and he appeared in 16 games for the AZL A's. That stint offered little hint of what he would be capable of this season. He hit only .216 with a 553 OPS.
Although Rojas' numbers this season have been excellent across the board, they have been mind-boggling versus left-handed pitchers. In 31 at-bats, the right-handed hitter is batting .645 with eight extra-base hits (1670 OPS).
At 22 years old, Rojas is old for the Arizona Rookie League. However, his age shouldn't dismiss what he is accomplishing completely. Many players from Latin America take a little longer to grow into their tools. Lieppman says that Rojas has excellent tools across the board, with the exception of foot speed, which is only average. Rojas ranks among the league leaders in outfield assists with four. Although Rojas will never be confused with a walk-machine like Conner Crumbliss, Rojas has shown the ability to control the strike-zone with a decent 15:36 BB:K ratio this season.
For the first time in his career, Rojas will be invited to next year's spring training with a legitimate chance to make a full-season roster. The Arizona Rookie League is a difficult hitting environment both due to the hot weather and the sometimes scrimmage-like nature of the games. Playing in the Midwest League will be an entirely different challenge for Rojas, but if he can continue to put up impressive numbers at that level, he will become difficult to ignore. Rojas will be 22 throughout most of next season.