clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Detroit Tigers call up top catching prospect Jake Rogers

Bobby Wilson was placed on outright waivers over the weekend.

Detroit Tigers Workout Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The wait is over as the first of the Detroit Tigers’ crop of position prospects is primed to make his debut. Catcher Jake Rogers, acquired in the Justin Verlander deal with the Houston Astros two years ago, has been promoted from Triple-A Toledo for his first major league action.

Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported on Monday that veteran backstop Bobby Wilson had been placed on outright waivers, clearing the way for Rogers’ ascension to the show. Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz later confirmed that Rogers would join the Tigers in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The 24-year-old Rogers was originally drafted out of Tulane in 2016 by the Astros with their third round pick.

The Tigers’ sixth-ranked prospect in our midseason update, Rogers packs a modest stick but is widely regarded as one of the best catchers in the minor leagues.

The 2019 season has been a little bit of an up-and-down one for Rogers at the plate. He came out of the gate hot for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves, posting a .964 OPS with five home runs in 112 plate appearances before his promotion to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in mid-May.

Rogers carried that performance at the plate to Toledo, but after a strong first few weeks there, things cooled as he adjusted to International League pitching, and the responsibilities incumbent with his position. With a new crop of pitchers and hitters to learn, some drop off in performance was expected. However, things have rebounded for him over the past two weeks and his power and ability to draw walks have continued to draw good reviews.

In 191 plate appearances for the Mud Hens, Rogers has nine home runs and a .779 OPS. There is still substantial swing-and-miss in his game as a hitter, but he continues to show advanced plate discipline and enough power to carry him at the major league level. He’s spent much of the past year working to tone down the effects of his high leg kick, and trying to smooth a little bit of the uppercut from his swing. On the other hand, that swing does produce a high volume of fly balls, which is a very good thing in this era of juiced balls.

However, his glove and throwing arm are the real calling cards here. Rogers is extremely athletic, with adjectives such as “cat-like” following him since his college days with Tulane. He is regarded as a good game caller and receiver, showcasing a very quiet glove and a ton of polish in his actions behind the dish. He also packs a strong, accurate throwing arm and has gunned down 25 of 47 would-be base stealers across two levels this season.

Expectations for Rogers should be high in terms of his work behind the dish. Even upon his arrival in Detroit almost two years ago, the prevailing word was that he was major league ready and more. He’s ready to showcase those excellent defensive tools.

At the plate, Rogers should be able to get on base reasonably well and provide some occasional home run power. However, he’ll have to continue to develop to reach his ceiling as an average hitter, and he deserves patience as he works to get there. This is the crux for Rogers. If he can develop into a roughly league average hitter, he’s going to be a very valuable player for a long time to come. If not, he’ll still be a boon to the pitching staff, but not the cornerstone piece the Detroit Tigers are hoping for.

Either way, Rogers represents the first key piece of the Tigers’ rebuilding effort to hit the major leagues, and Tigers fans will no doubt be happy to see a bit of their future finally on display.