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Carlsbad’s Rogers a major prospect

CARLSBAD — Someone at Carlsbad High School really ought to get Cody May a second phone.

At least for the next three months. Call it the Trevor Rogers Hotline.

“Seven Major League Baseball teams called me today,” said the Cavemen’s head baseball coach as he relaxed in his office chair early last week, looking slightly weary. “My phone is going all day. Nights. Weekends. Sundays during church.”

This is a Monday afternoon.

Two days prior to this conversation, at least 10 MLB scouts had descended on Artesia — for a scrimmage.

Two days away from this conversation, the San Diego Padres were scheduled to stop by — just to evaluate a 25-pitch bullpen session.

“Not standard at all,” said David Matranga, an MLB-certified agent based in Phoenix. “It’s only standard when you get someone like Trevor.”

On Saturday in El Paso, May estimated the number of MLB scouts at 50 to 75. All of them taking stock of the state’s premier prep prospect.

“I’m not exaggerating,” May said.

It’s local scouts. Area scouts. Influential club officials flying in from their spring training sites.

This will be Trevor Rogers’ life for the next three months.

“I think it’s definitely a challenge,” said the Carlsbad senior. “I want to prove to them that I am as good as everyone says I am.”

From the city that produced Shane Andrews and Cody Ross comes arguably the most scrutinized high school pitcher New Mexico has ever had.

At 6 feet, 6 inches and 200 pounds, and with a fastball clocked in the mid-90s — even as high as 96, according to one account — Carlsbad’s lanky 19-year-old  southpaw is one of the hottest commodities in the country. The buzz has been building since last summer and will reach a crescendo between now and the middle of June.

Rogers himself puts at 20 the number of in-home visits he’s already conducted with major league scouts. His father Mike says it’s 22.

Meanwhile, May can hardly take a breath, what with his cell phone battery being stretched daily.

Teams want a road map of Rogers’ pitching days. When and where he’ll be starting. This week. Next week. And beyond.

“I’m having to (schedule) the entire season,” May said. There are, he said, practical reasons for such data requests, such as booking plane fare and hotel rooms in advance.

Not to mix metaphors, but this has been and will continue to be a full-court press by MLB teams into one of the most remote areas of the country.

“The first 15 picks of the first round have been in contact with me,” May said matter-of-factly.

Ironically, the attention has proved to be a healthy tonic for Rogers.

“My confidence level has been boosted,” he said. “I doubted my talent, being in a small town. Like a big fish in a small pond, you might say.”

Rising profile

Rogers, 9-2 with a 0.70 ERA and 122 strikeouts in just under 70 innings for Carlsbad last season, made his first start of the 2016 prep season on Saturday in El Paso, where the Cavemen, the defending Class 6A champions, were finishing up in a tournament.

Rogers struck out 10 of the 14 batters he faced, giving up one hit in four innings to earn a victory.

“Trevor checks off lots of boxes,” said Matranga, who is Rogers’ personal and family advisor and, if Rogers turns pro after June’s amateur draft — when he might be in line for a huge signing bonus — his future agent as well. “Not only with respect to the (MLB) draft, but his ability to be a major league pitcher, he’s left-handed, he’s 6-6, he’s smart, he has baseball intelligence, he has a tremendous arm, he’s very competitive.”

To say Rogers is trending would be a disservice.

PerfectGame.org has Rogers rated the third-best prep prospect in the country. “Easy low 90s … up to 96. Big time projection,” the website says.

Baseball America puts Rogers at No. 9, and the second-best left-handed prep pitcher available for the draft.

MLB.com ranks Rogers 10th among high school players.

“Entered the summer with little fanfare,” MLB.com writes, “but that changed at the Area Code Games when he came out firing a 93-95 mph fastball with little effort and showed a promising breaking ball. The low-slot lefty doesn’t bring that velocity with consistency yet, though one scout observed that he’s a ‘baby giraffe still trying to figure out his body.’ ”

So, there’s all that.

“I think the guy’s a first-round draft pick,” said Volcano Vista coach Kevin Andersh, once a prominent professional lefty pitcher. “If he’s got the head to match his arm, he’s gonna go a long way.”

Which is precisely the purpose of those aforementioned in-home visits, as clubs size up Rogers’ character and evaluate him as a potential future asset. Will he be worth a multi-million dollar investment? These meet-and-greets help fill in the gaps.

“These are my words: they come in, they want to find out if the kid is worth their trouble,” Mike Rogers said. “And,” he added, laughing, “if the parents are crazy.”

“They want the whole package,” he said.

It bears more than a passing mention that Rogers —who also features an excellent change-up, plus a curve and slider in his repertoire — has signed to play at Texas Tech, and he said there are no bad options. Most prep coaches expect that he won’t ever set foot in Lubbock.

“He has a plan,” Mike Rogers said. “If the pros don’t work out, he’ll go pitch for Texas Tech and try to win a national championship.”

Navigating the process

Albuquerque prep baseball fans have just one opening to catch a glimpse of Rogers: April 15, when Carlsbad travels north for single games against Volcano Vista and Rio Grande. After that, the Cavemen won’t be back until the state tournament, assuming, naturally, that they advance that far.

For sure, Rogers is a radar gun magnet. When he threw at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., last summer, his father estimated there were 500 scouts in the stands, encompassing both MLB and colleges.

There were a few hundred more at a prep All-American Game in San Diego.

“It’s nuts how much publicity he’s gotten,” Rogers’ father said. “But I don’t know that Trevor pays attention to it. He is one of the most level-headed young guys I’ve ever been around. I think he’s gonna handle (the publicity) very well going forward. He takes it in stride.”

Matranga, part of the PSI Sports Management company based in Ventura, Calif., is working for free as he counsels Rogers and his family through tricky waters.

“He’s starting to become like family,” said Rogers, himself humble, polite and extremely well spoken. “He takes the pressure off of me and my family.”

Every draft eligible player, Matranga said, is entitled to have an advisor.

“I help gather information for Trevor, and help him understand what his market is,” Matranga said. “What to say to scouts, what not to say to scouts, what he should sign for, what he shouldn’t sign for, should he go to college.”

Currently, Matranga said, everything points to Rogers getting a call from someone in the first round.

“It would be awesome for him to be the No. 1 pick overall,” his father said. “What are the chances? Oh, I don’t know, maybe 20 percent.”

Rogers surely benefits from the wisdom of Ross, who is not only a former World Series hero with San Francisco but also happens to be Rogers’ cousin. Andrews was the No. 11 overall pick by Montreal when he came out of Carlsbad in 1990.

Through all of this tremendous white noise, Rogers will manage a delicate balancing act as he tries to find the normalcy in these last three months of high school.

“I do the best I can to shelter him from the madness and craziness,” Matranga said. “I don’t want him to be bogged down by scouts and blowing up his phone and taking up his time. We need to allow him to be a senior and try to handle the behind-the-scenes stuff and make sure he’s not overwhelmed.”

Said May: “He’s mature beyond his years. He is very soft spoken, and he doesn’t get excited or upset. He’s handled this like a 40-year-old man would handle it.”

For his part, Rogers said he could never have anticipated this flood of attention.

“Not in a million years,” Rogers said. “I thank God for all the blessings in my life.”

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