When the Tigers traded Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros last season, RHP Franklin Perez was considered to be the prized possession of the trade. But, catcher Jake Rogers could be a dual threat for the Olde English D. FanGraphs’ Eric Logenhagen has called the catcher from Tulane
(the best)“defensive catching prospect I’ve seen, a polished receiver and cat-like ball-blocker with a plus arm.
With the Detroit Tigers Rogers got only seven at-bats last season with Class-A Advanced Lakeland. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the fifth-best catching prospect and he was recently named to their All-Defensive Team.
All the accolades about his defensive play aren’t going to stop Rogers from putting up solid production offensively. In 27 games at the Single-A level, he hit .255/.336/.520. Then at the Advanced-A level, he batted .265/.357/.457 in 83 games. All told over four leagues of Class A, he’s pulled in 23 home runs, 35 doubles, an OBP of .348 and an OPS of .790.
As a batter in college, he hit less than impressive numbers, posting a slash line of .233/.333/.309. Bless You Boys Points out that his current production offensively might be a fluke. Shortly after Rogers was traded to the Tigers they posted this scouting report on him:
This outbreak with the bat may or may not be an aberration. On the one hand, his performances have not been fueled by a ridiculously high batting average on balls in play (BABIP) — .290 in Single-A and .302 in Advanced-A. His HR/FB rate is a little high, at 12.1 percent, but that is not enough to elevate a mediocre performance to the level at which Rogers has been playing. On the other hand, his swing isn’t all that pretty. “I worry about his bat against better pitching as he swings uphill,” said ESPN’s Keith Law, “and I’ve seen him struggle to adjust to changing speeds.”
Jake Rogers so far has proven doubters wrong about his offensive ability. MLB Pipeline has given him below-average grades on contact and power but that hasn’t stopped him from posting a 138 wRC+ at the Single-A level. If his offensive numbers level out to what many people project for him, he’ll spend a long career as a backup catcher. For now, he aims to be a dual threat for the Tigers.