Rogers Ready to Lean On Past Experience

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Professional baseball is a journey filled with unpredictable twists and turns. Call-ups, assignments, trades, releases, signings—it never ends. But, the Atlantic League proves with each passing season that independent baseball can be a welcoming home for players of all backgrounds, especially those who have made it to “The Show” in years past.

Like so many before him, pitcher Mark Rogers will bring his center-stage experience to the Long Island Ducks in 2015. The Flock signed the right-hander on April 6, a move that helps Long Island flesh out its starting rotation with Spring Training just days away.  Rogers reached the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 and 2012. In 11 games (nine of which were starts), the Maine native posted a 3-1 record with a 3.49 ERA, striking out 41 batters over 39 innings of work. Though his time in the majors was short, his numbers were impressive.

But, when you ask him about his days in affiliated baseball, some of his most vivid memories are of being drafted by Milwaukee as the fifth overall pick in the 2004 amateur draft.

“It was amazing,” recalled Rogers. “I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s up there as one of the greatest experiences of my life. I don’t know how to really put it into words. I was a senior in high school, I loved playing baseball, and to reach that level where I was picked so high, it was a huge moment for my family and me. I remember we had a party at the house with my buddies and my family was there with the television on, and when they announced my name it was a feeling that I don’t know if I’ve had since, besides when my kids were born. Definitely something I’ll never forget.”

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Fresh out of the first round, Rogers began his professional career with the Brewers’ rookie team in the Arizona League on June 21, 2004. From there, the young prospect bounced up and down between every level of the organization from 2005-2009. Then, in 2010, after spending a majority of the season with Milwaukee’s Double-A Huntsville, Rogers made one tune-up start with Triple-A Nashville and was on to join the Brewers as a late-season call-up.

“Oh man, that was a thrilling moment,” said Rogers. “I’ve been called up twice in my career, the first time was the September call-up in 2010. They brought us into town, a bunch of guys after the end of the minor league season, so I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to get called up or not, but we were all at the game where Trevor Hoffman got his 600th save, and in the middle of that game they brought me up to the GM’s box and told me I was going to get the call. I remember shaking, I was on the verge of tears because it’s everything you work for from the time you first put a glove on—you want to play in the Major Leagues. Being drafted is one thing, but to reach that level of baseball is probably the best baseball moment of my life.”

After his promotion, Rogers certainly made the most of his first shot at facing big league hitters. Making his Major League debut as a reliever on September 10, 2010, he retired all three Chicago Cubs batters he faced in the ninth inning.

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When his second call-up came in 2012, Rogers was in his usual role on the mound as a starter. That season, he garnered just one decision through his first four appearances, a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 4. However, Rogers rebounded in a big way, winning his final three starts to finish the year 3-1.

Rogers was released by Milwaukee in the fall of 2013. By 2014, the starter was in the Seattle Mariners organization with their Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. When that did not pan out, he found an opportunity to continue his career with the Lancaster Barnstormers. With such a quick turnaround from affiliated to independent baseball, one might expect a difficult transition. For Rogers, the transition was not an issue.

“I didn’t really have any nerves but I knew the level of baseball was going to be very good,” said Rogers. “Without knowing much about the league coming in, it was very exciting. It’s a good way to challenge yourself and to be as prepared as you can possibly be if you get back to affiliated baseball. In terms of talent, I expected it to be pretty close to Triple-A ball and it didn’t disappoint. There are a lot of good players in the league and it lives up to its reputation for being a very good league. It’s also player-friendly. If you have the right mindset and you want to go in and get your work done and work hard everyday, it’s very possible to have success there. The travel isn’t bad, the stadiums are all very nice, and the fans show up. So, it’s a great place to play baseball and hopefully a big stepping stone in my baseball career.”

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While with the Barnstormers, Rogers compiled a 5-6 record with a 4.17 ERA in 18 starts. Of those 18 starts, two of them came against the Ducks. They were both wins for Rogers. Across the two appearances, he surrendered just three runs on 10 hits with seven strikeouts in 11 innings of work. Now, Rogers has the chance to join the Flock and bring that success to Long Island.

“I got a chance to play against the Ducks last season, and I loved the facility and the team they put together,” said Rogers.  “And now there are some guys returning like Lew Ford and Cody Puckett. Another big reason [for joining the Ducks] was having Morales there, he’s a great defensive catcher, and I look forward to pitching to him because I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. Also, the atmosphere. Every time I was there with Lancaster, there were always fans and it was a great place to play baseball. I’m looking forward to starting there.”

If Rogers enjoyed pitching at Bethpage Ballpark as an opponent of the Ducks, imagine how he will feel once he dons the Long Island uniform and takes the field for the Flock Faithful.

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Posted on April 10, 2015, in Player Signings and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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