No. 22: Joe Rogers, LHP
Joe Rogers was drafted by the Tigers in the 5th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Central Florida, where he spent the 2012 season as the Knights' closer, compiling 13 saves across 43 innings with an outstanding 1.47 ERA. After signing with the Tigers, Rogers was assigned to Class A Short Season-Connecticut, where he threw 23 2/3 innings, strictly out of the bullpen, with a 2.28 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9. Undoubtedly impressive numbers, especially considering he was very good throughout his entire college season as well as throughout his first professional season, totaling 66 2/3 innings in 2012. Heading into 2013, Rogers offers the Tigers some intriguing options, which I will explore in his scouting report.
Per baseball reference, Rogers stands 6'1" and weighs about 205lbs, a solid built for a pitcher, even if he's a little on the short side (by MLB standards). He offers a 3 pitch repertoire, with a fastball, curveball, and changeup making up his arsenal. As a reliever, Rogers' fastball sits in the low 90's, usually around 90-92, but he's been as high as 94 on several occasions, and I think that he offers modest projection to add a couple ticks of velocity should he stay a reliever. His curveball currently grades out as above-average, and several scouts have put projection 60 grades on the pitch. Rogers has the ability to both throw the curve for strikes, as well as to bury it down out of the zone, where it acts as a legitimate swing and miss pitch to both lefties and righties. His changeup is currently behind both the fastball and curve in terms of development, but it offers solid projection, which leads me to why Rogers offers the Tigers intriguing options. As a polished lefty with solid build and a solid 3 pitch mix, Rogers has the potential to start. I think he could move very quickly through the system as a reliever, but should the Tigers want to, I also think Rogers could start, although he would move significantly slower. His command offers enough projection for me to think that a move to the rotation would work, so it really depends on what the Tigers want to do with him.
As a reliever, Rogers' ceiling is that of a 7th-8th inning set up man, who can be effective against both righties and lefties. Should the Tigers decide to keep him in the bullpen, Rogers is advanced enough to where I could see the Tigers assigning him to Class Advanced A-Lakeland to begin 2013, and I could see him moving all the way to Class Double A-Erie this season should be perform well. Should the Tigers decide to transition Rogers to the rotation, I would assume that he begins 2013 at Class A-West Michigan, depending on how he does in Spring Training, which obviously puts his MLB ETA at a later date than his ETA as a reliever. He has the ceiling of a #4 starter right now, but that could change depending on how he shows across 6-7 inning stretches. Needless to say, Rogers is someone I'm looking forward to seeing in 2013, regardless of his role. He's one to keep an eye on, for sure.