Mark LoMoglio

Josh Rogers is off to another strong start this year and may not be long for the A-ball level.

TAMPA, FL -- Josh Rogers had a terrific first full season last year, posting a combined 2.38 ERA over two A-ball levels that culminated in a rather lengthy stint with high-A Tampa. Back in the Florida State League this year, he has gotten off to yet another terrific start this season, so much so that it may not be long before he's ready to move on to the Double-A level, if he isn't already.

Selected in the 11th round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of the University of Louisville, Rogers, at least performance-wise, has been a rising star within theYankees organization this since that time.  He continues to improve from last season, working on new pitches and getting in top physical condition too.

He arrived in Tampa early last season and made an impact as soon as he stepped on the mound, finishing the season strong with a 10-5 record and a 1.15 WHIP ratio in twenty starts for the T-Yankees, and did so all while working on developing that all-important third pitch.

"My changeup was something I worked on for about three months," Rogers admitted.  "Every day, every bullpen, it was definitely something I carried over to this season."  

In the offseason, Rogers, standing a listed 6-foot-3 and weighing a rather slender 185 pounds, was constantly in the weight room making sure he stayed flexible, in shape, and ready to go.

"The biggest aspect of the game I worked on in the offseason was the mental aspect," he added. "This year, I knew more guys, how the system worked, and was more comfortable with everything",

Despite already having his first Spring Training camp over a year ago, Rogers, who admitted to being more comfortable in what is now his second full season, did not have the Spring Training he was hoping for this year, starting out slowly and still making adjustments to his game.

"Spring training went okay. I could have had a better slider and command on my fastball. I wouldn’t say I was the sharpest [though], hopefully next year I can make adjustments and come in a little bit better."

Rogers, always a little tougher on himself, was better than he claimed though.  Tim Norton, the Tampa Yankees pitching coach, was happy with him during Spring Training.

"He came is ready to go. I could tell he put in a lot of working during the offseason and was ready to compete for a job. He looked great," Norton said.

Rogers said he was still trying to find that optimal three-pitch mix, one that includes a low to mid-80s slider, a changeup of equal velocity range, and a fastball that normally resides in the 88-91 mph range.  Still, as he did a year ago, he found the mix quickly and it's allowed him to get off to another great start this season.

"I'm trying to get back into the swing of things, get more in shape, and getting adjusted," Rogers opined. "Overall, it was a good start, not a great start."

Going 2-3 thus far with a 3.00 ERA in his first six starts, Rogers, who has struck out 36 batters in 39 innings and walked just five, has looked just as strong this year as last year.

"He always finds a way to go six or seven innings," Norton said. "He is a grinder, he competes, and has been one of our constant starters. He looks great."

For Rogers, who isn't known as a power arm, his plan remains the same every time out.

"The aspects of my game I rely on is fastball command, not walking players, not giving up free bases, working with a good pace on the mound, throwing the ball over the plate, and giving my defense a chance to work," Rogers simply said.

While the overall low number of walks might not reflect it, Norton believes that more non-quality strikes and expanding the zone are the main aspects of Rogers' game that he needs to improve on. Norton also notes that commanding both sides of the plate will be big for Rodgers as the season continues.

"A lot of times he will get ahead in the count and throw too many strikes," Norton said.  "He has given up some hits because he throws too many strikes but sometimes he needs to throw out of the zone so the hitters can chase the ball."

Expanding the zone and getting hitters to chase a bit more are just nit-picking a tad though as Rogers' approach and overall mentality on the mound or even to his own development haven't changed much since his selection out of college.

"I want to continue to grow," Rogers said, get better as a pitcher mentally and physically, making sure everything is as sharp as it can be, and just get better on the mound."

"He has had good numbers so far this year," Norton added. "I expect he's going to keep grinding it out and give us a chance to win."

Still, while there might not be the limitless upside to his game, Norton has recognized some growth in Rogers from last season to this season.

"He is way more polished and understands the routine of professional baseball more," Norton continued. "He has a much better changeup, three tools instead of two last season, and more options in attacking right and left-handed batters.

With little left to prove at the A-ball level, Rogers plans to continue working on his pitches, stay healthy, and do what he does, and he knows that should he continue to pitch his game it won't be long before he's moving up to the Double-A level.

"I'm 100 percent ready for the next level," Rogers concluded.


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