As accolades are given to various prospects around the league this winter, it is becoming obvious the Detroit Tigers’ farm system has been revitalized in a big way. Recently acquired hitters Daz Cameron and Isaac Paredes were both identified as outstanding prospects in the Tigers’ system. Now it's 22-year-old catcher Jake Rogers' turn for recognition, being placed on MLB Pipeline’s 2018 All-Defense Team.
"[Rogers is] just so smooth behind the plate," said Jim Callis, one of MLB.com's prospect analysts. "His pure arm strength is probably more solid, just a little bit above average, but he transfers so quick, he's so accurate, he's an excellent receiver, he moves so well behind the plate that this guy's a Gold Glover."
The commentary in the article says that Rogers' selection was the most difficult of all eight players named to the All-Defense team. He is an especially talented defender, true, but he isn't the only superb catcher in the minors. Sean Murphy of the Oakland A's is almost as good behind the dish and pairs it with better arm strength, but has had less success throwing out runners. Last year's selection, Carson Kelley, is still renowned for his defensive prowess, but his arm and glove work are both just a tick behind Rogers'.
Most see Rogers a lock for the big leagues based on his defense alone; his ultimate value will be determined by how well his bat transfers to the higher levels of the organization. The questions revolving around his ability to hit are what pushed him to the third round of the 2016 draft, and they still linger. However, he has done everything in his power to dispel these concerns. Hitting 18 home runs over two levels, he posted a 138 wRC+ in Low-A and a 127 wRC+ in High-A.