Next week, Rogers is going to get back to doing what he does best.
“It’s gonna be a fun ride,” the hard-throwing left-handed pitcher said in a phone interview with the Journal. “I’ve been waiting for so long to get back into it. Overall, I’m really excited.”
Eight months have passed since Rogers was drafted No. 13 overall by the Miami Marlins.
Nine months have passed since he last threw a competitive pitch for the Carlsbad Cavemen.
He is leaving his southeastern New Mexico home for Florida in the next couple of days, and then report for his first spring training camp with the Marlins.
Miami gave Rogers $3.4 million after last June’s draft, part of a whirlwind period in his life.
Now he’s ready to prove the investment by the Marlins was the right one. But he’s never had to endure a layoff as long as this before.
“It’s been difficult,” the 20-year-old Rogers said. “It’s been a long time since I competed. I’m ready go to back out there and show them what I can do. (But) I’m a little antsy. I don’t know what to expect.”
The website fishstripes.com believes Rogers will join the Miami starting rotation by the 2021 season.
“I have my focus purely on baseball,” he said. “I see some of that stuff from time to time, but I don’t let it affect my game plan.”
This year, Rogers said he is hoping to start the season in low Class A ball. And, he added, his timeline for reaching the majors is three to four years.
Miami shut him down after the draft, believing his arm needed the rest. And as it turns out, he had a forearm strain in that left arm, anyway, that Rogers said was likely related to fatigue.
As he prepares to head south and east, Rogers has added 15 pounds to his super slender frame, which now carries a shade over 200 pounds.
“I’m so long and lanky,” the 6-foot-6 Rogers said, “it doesn’t show.”
The Marlins asked Rogers to work on his mechanics during the offseason that will improve his delivery without additional stress or energy on his wind-up. For example, he said, becoming stronger on his front side instead of having his front shoulder “fly open.”
Also, Miami would like his lead leg to not be as high. The Marlins also are working with Rogers on his off-speed packages; his effortless-looking fastball can already hit 93-95 mph, and that will certainly increase as he adds more muscle and pounds to his frame.
Bigger picture, Miami’s franchise has — and is still — being made over during this offseason. A new ownership group, with former Yankees great Derek Jeter as the new public face of the team, has traded away virtually all of the Marlins’ top players, including National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton.
Rogers said the personnel decisions haven’t dampened his enthusiasm.
“I’m definitely excited,” Rogers said. “They are starting from the ground up. I can see why people are frustrated, but this is the way it has to be for a few years, and it’ll pay off in the end.”
Rogers said he has not yet met Jeter, though that will change once spring training begins.
“He’s won his whole career,” Rogers said. “He’s a smart guy. I trust him 100 percent that he can get the job done and get the right guys.”
And even with that lengthy layoff from game action, Rogers said Miami already has made him a better pitcher.
“I’ve definitely learned more about the aspect of pitching, more than the physical mechanics,” he said. “They’ve taught me a lot of stuff that I can implement in my game.”