The Runner Sports

Astros Prospect, Catcher Jake Rogers, Discovers Bat Goes Hand In Glove With His Defensive Skills

Perusing the 55-year franchise history of catchers for the Houston Astros doesn’t exactly leave one shivering in their shin guards. A long line of utilitarian and serviceable backstops (from John Bateman to John Mizerock to Jason Castro) litter the half-century list of relatively listless models of the tools of ignorance. Jake Rogers would like to change that, thank you very much.

Known, literally, by scouts as the player in the 2016 draft with the best defensive tools of any player at any position, the Astros (after picking him in the 3rd round out of Tulane) have made sure to outfit the right-hander with a hunk of lumber to go with his leather, and he’s showing Houston’s brass he knows what to do with it.

Pre-draft scouts loved his strong arm and quick transfer, which made him nearly impossible to run on. They also noted how well he moved, with the soft hands that make an excellent receiver. A peek behind the scenes: Most in the know feel Rogers dropped to the third round out of concerns about his “light bat.”

Currently crouching behind the plate at Houston’s Buies Creek Astros Class-A Advanced affiliate, the 6’1″, 190-pound Rogers is riding an 11-game hitting streak, in which he’s batting .435/.480/.804 in that span (through games of Saturday, July 15). That outburst includes two 3-for-4 games, as well as a 4th of July explosion of 4-for-5 with 4 RBIs. All of that has brought the 22-year-old’s Buies Creek average to .314, in 45 games (172 ABs).

His recent raking has not gone unnoticed nationally, either. MLB Pipeline has named Rogers to its Prospect Team of the Week for the week ending July 16, where he’s put up these numbers: .450/.522/.750, 5 runs, 9 hits, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 3 BBs, 3 SO, 3 SBs, all in 5 games.

With 10 doubles, a triple, and 9 home runs for Buies Creek, the extra-base hit is certainly not a stranger, anymore, to Rogers. In fact, counting his 102 at-bats to begin 2017 with Houston’s full season Class A Quad Cities River Bandits, Rogers has amassed 34 extra-base hits in 2017.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Jacob Ray Rogers was born in the heart of the panhandle in Canyon, TX, 18 miles south of Amarillo and just west of the Palo Duro Canyon. He attended Canyon High School, and rooted for the regionally-televised Texas Rangers. Rogers was a three-year letterman at Canyon High, playing both catcher and shortstop.

He led the school to the 2012 District 3-4A title, batting .359 with 33 RBIs.

Rogers batted .492 with 15 doubles, 5 triples, 6 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts during his senior year for the Eagles.

The summer of 2015 found Rogers, an avid hunter and fisherman, playing in the Cape Cod League for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, and slashing a healthy .274/.300/.425 in 73 ABs, adding 2 doubles, 3 homers, and 11 RBIs.

In Rogers’ junior (and final) season with Tulane (spring 2016), he had a .261/.384/.403 slash line, with 46 runs, 55 hits, 9 doubles, 7 home runs, 28 RBIs, 35 walks, and 13 stolen bases. He recorded 13 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games, while fielding .992, and throwing out 27-of-43 base stealers (63%). Those 27 runners thrown out rank second in single-season Tulane history.

Rogers’ three-year Tulane career shakes out this way: A career .233 hitter in 169 games, he scored 84 runs with 19 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases. Knowing how to get on base, he also collected 73 walks in his career with the Green Wave, while striking out 92 times in 662 plate appearances.

Everything’s Going to Start Falling

Following the 2016 draft, and his Houston signing, Rogers was assigned to the short season Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York-Penn League, followed by an equal amount of time with the Astros’ full season Class A Quad Cities affiliate, hitting .233 with 3 HRs and 16 RBIs, combined.

While with Tri-City in July 2016, Whattheheckbobby’s Jayne Hansen caught up with Jake, and asked him to give himself a scouting report:  “I pride myself on catching and I think that’s what players love about me is I can catch. I can receive well and throw pretty well. I just pride myself on that, and hitting too. People think that it’s a hole, but I don’t think so at all. I think my confidence is good and everything’s going to start falling.”

The New Legacy

Jake Rogers is the 21st-ranked prospect in Houston’s system (according to MLB Pipeline), but he’s the second-ranked catcher, behind the multi-tooled Garrett Stubbs (ranked Houston’s #11), currently putting down fingers at the level above Buies Creek, Houston’s Double-A Corpus Christi.

Related: Garrett Stubbs: Biggio 2.0?

Rogers might end up in Corpus by the end of this season, but only if room can be found to promote Stubbs to AAA Fresno. But, with so much of ’17 gone, it seems a certainty Rogers will move up to Corpus to open up 2018.

By the new decade, assuming both Stubbs and Rogers aren’t dealt somewhere, Houston’s half-century-long backstop doldrums may be put to rest definitively. But, between the two, which one?

Related: Kicking and Screaming, Justin Verlander Deigns to Join Astros

Brad Kyle

Brad Kyle

Brad Ramone with (L-R) Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey Ramone, backstage at Houston's Liberty Hall, July, 1977.

Johnny, the Ramones' influential guitarist, who passed away in 2004 at 55, was an avid baseball and New York Yankees fan since childhood. He even once ranked baseball above rock'n'roll in a personal Top 10 List!

Like Johnny, my love for rock is only equaled by my love for baseball and my hometown Houston Astros, present and past!

At TRS, you'll get full Astros coverage, minor league peeks, player profiles, interviews, MLB historical perspective, and maybe a little rock'n'roll!
Brad Kyle