Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 14

Right-hander Chad Rogers doesn't have an overpowering fastball and has never been an eye-popping prospect. That hasn't stopped him from overcoming odds and shooting up the Cincinnati organization. He'll start out at Louisville this season and await the call for an MLB debut.

Chad Rogers hasn't really been a heralded prospect since the Reds selected him out of Galveston College in with a 2010 28th round pick. Since then the only thing to hold him back from climbing up the organization was a shark attack while surfing after the draft. That prevented him from debuting until the following season where he began at Dayton. Since then he's been effective at every level before a promotion to AAA midseason last year and he now has a spot on the 40-man roster coming into this season.

He didn't do too badly at Louisville considering his success at lower levels put him on a fast track. On the other hand he was sitting on a 2.20 ERA at Pensacola and really didn't have anything left to prove at that level. Now he's worked his way into a position where continued success could get him a call from the Reds when they need help in the rotation. Until then he'll work on lowering his 4.20 AAA ERA against International League hitters.

The right-hander is a pitcher that is hard to figure out because his physique (5'11/205#) is a bit shorter than most starting pitchers but he still manages to get the job done despite not having overpowering stuff on the mound. His fastball tops out in the low-90's and he compliments it with a slider. Like all finesse pitchers he has to rely on extraordinary command and thus far in three minor league season he has a K/BB ratio of 2.75.

His strikeout rate hasn't been that bad either as he's fanned over seven per nine innings during that time. Another plus is that he's effective at keeping the ball down while keeping an air/out ratio close to one. As a result he also has a low rate of throwing pitches that leave the yard (0.8 HR/nine). The top side of his projection could have him become a workhorse at Great American Ball Park ala recently departed Bronson Arroyo.

Rogers did finally hit some challenges after arriving at AAA and facing savvier hitters. Still, he's only made a dozen starts at that level and he finished with a couple of solid outings, allowing only six hits/three runs over fourteen innings. Also, if he wants to become a shorter version of Arroyo he will have to broaden the variety of his pitch offerings. That may ultimately move him to the bullpen, but with his potential to be an innings-eater there's no reason to do that now.

There are a lot of obstacles for late-round picks before making it to the majors. One wouldn't have to look very far to find a flashier prospect, but now that Rogers is on the 40-man he's just a phone call away at the age of 24. Johnny Cueto missed most of last season to injury, Mat Latos is recovering from knee surgery, and it is doubtful the Cincinnati quintet will repeat its feat of 2012 when they didn't miss a start. Rogers will begin the season running out to the hill every fifth day for Louisville which will give this 28th rounder an opportunity for a MLB debut in his fourth professional season.

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