There is no reasonable excuse to delay Jake Rogers' inevitable call-up

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

First, let's survey the state of the Tigers' catcher position currently. Grayson Greiner is on the injured list, so his production is irrelevant to the current moment. In any event, he has not had a good year, and looks like a career backup catcher. I had thought he might be better.

As a catcher this year, John Hicks has slashed .168/.193/.303 (.496 OPS). Career as a catcher, he has slashed .205/.241/.354 (.595). As a first baseman, in his career, he's hit .264/.322/.409 (.732). That's not great for a first baseman, but it is somewhere around MLB average and certainly suggests he can hit, when not preoccupied by the catcher position. Hicks is also not a good defensive catcher. Why put a player in a position to fail?

Interestingly, the Tigers have lost the last 17 games in which Hicks has played first base. They haven't won with him playing first since April 2. This might have more to do with Miggy not playing on those days than on Hicks' performance.

Bobby Wilson has slashed .103/.125/.128 this year (.253 OPS). In games in which Wilson has played, the Tigers are 1-12. That's probably not all his fault. Wilson is (by all accounts) a decent catcher. He is 36 years old, and his value to the organization's future is as a coach.

Let's just say that the Tigers' catcher position is currently a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum. Vacuums suck.

Now, let's talk about whether Jake Rogers is ready.

He's 24, and would be under club control until he is 30 (and that could be manipulated to age 31, if that matters). By every account he is a far above-average defensive catcher, either elite, or bordering on elite. His caught stealing numbers are outrageously good, he's thrown out 25 of 47 guys who tried to steal off of him in 2019 (10-15 in Double-A, 15-32 in Triple-A). He absolutely crushed the ball in Double-A, hitting .302/.429/.535 (.963), by far the best numbers of any catcher who has played at Erie this year not named Scivicque (more about him later).

At Triple-A, Rogers has hit .213/.306/.447 (.753) -- he's struck out 48 times in 171 plate appearances (28%), and walked only 15 (8.7%).

But there is a huge plus side as well. He has hit nine home runs in those 171 plate appearances (5.26%), by far the best HR/PA on the Toledo team (other than Jeimer Candelario). By way of comparison, Mikie Mahtook is at 4.3%, Victor Reyes is 3.4% and Ronny Rodriguez is 4.5%.

For all of the Victor Reyes hype, his Toledo OBP is .025 above Rogers' and Rogers has more power (and is the same age).

Rogers' Toledo OBP is the same as Ronny Rodriguez and he hits for more power, and he's three years younger. Over the last 2 weeks he is 8-36, with two home runs, two walks, and two HBP (11 strikeouts). He's not setting the world on fire, but he's not doing badly, either. The average Triple-A pitcher is two years older than Rogers. He's faced plenty of pitchers with MLB experience.

His hitting performance at Triple-A is decent, but wouldn't scream "call me up" for a first baseman! However, there seems to be little question that he is a better MLB catcher right now than Hicks or Wilson.

If the purpose of 2019 is to win games, Rogers would be in the majors.

If the purpose of 2019 is to develop the team of the future, Rogers should be in the majors -- there is no real evidence that calling him up would inhibit the development of his hitting.

If the purpose of 2019 is to lose games for losing's sake, then, by all means, the Tigers should keep doing exactly what they are doing.

A note about Kade Scivicque -- at age 26, old, but not that old for Double-A, Scivicque has hit .346/.395/.596 (.991 OPS). He's held his own at Toledo, hitting .267/.340/.356 (.696 OPS). Scivicque bounced between the Detroit and Atlanta organizations between 2015-2018, and showed few signs of being a plus hitter -- he even dropped down to Lakeland last year. Scivicque is an adequate defensive catcher.

I'm calling the Double-A performance a bit of a fluke, partially due to a small sample size and partly because Scivicque is old relative to the League. Nevertheless, catchers sometimes develop their hitting late, and Scivicque should be usable organization depth in 2020. I think there is a good chance that he could outhit both Hicks and Wilson if he were called up now (a low bar, but the bar we have).

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.