Lancaster, California —— Take this as a companion piece to our feature interview with Colorado Rockies outfielder Wes Rogers that was also published today; you can read that interview by clicking here.
Rogers told me his breakout this year has been simple—just playing more baseball and developing in his career through good old experience—and while that’s likely partially true, there’s more going on that accounts for his development into a more consistent offensive weapon. Yes, Lancaster plays a role as maybe the best hitter’s environment in baseball, but Rogers’ game isn’t really one that will significantly benefit from The Hangar. He’s not a high fly ball hitter but rather a lightning quick runner who needs to live gap-to-gap and on the ground in a way that allows his plus speed to do the work for him.
To that end, the Wes Rogers I’ve seen this summer is a thousand times better equipped to get off his ‘A’ swing and put the barrel on the ball than the outfielder who hit .255 for the Modesto Nuts a year ago. He still has some bat wrap in his swing mechanics, and he’ll get long through his swing to the point where he can sometimes struggle on hard stuff in on his hands, but his bat speed has improved noticeably this year. He’s more apt to turn on pitches with authority, and he’s looked better at pulling the ball hard than he did a year ago.
He’s a very lanky, long guy, and that’ll always be his body type for however long he may play, but Rogers also bulked up just a little bit this winter and looks noticeably stronger in that lengthy frame. I almost feel bad for him; people will inevitably scout just his stat line heading into 2018 and assume that Lancaster alone was the reason for his offensive surge. That’s far too simple (and incorrect) an explanation; while The Hangar has helped without question, Rogers obviously put in a lot of work last winter and it’s paying off in him now being a guy more able to get the barrel on the ball with hard contact, hitter’s park or not. Stronger hands and wrists and an improved ability at using his trunk and legs through his swing, especially to the pull side, have given Rogers’ career a shot in the arm.
So where does this leave Wes Rogers?
Even though he’s charted in the past, Wes Rogers is not currently on MLB Pipeline‘s top 30 prospect list for the Colorado Rockies. That’s understandable considering the down year he came off in 2016 (not to mention the organization’s deep farm system), but expect him to see a bump in the winter assuming his final two months continue like this. He’s toolsy, with truly plus speed—again, he leads the Cal League with 48 stolen bases; the next closest runner, Garrett Hampson, has just 25. He’s got a good, long frame and the weight he added last winter is a sign he could put on yet more to take on the rigors of the upper minors and beyond. His arm is average, but he makes up for it with exceptional range and jumps in the outfield, and because of that, he should be able to man center field with no problem in the big leagues one day.
The bat, then, will ultimately dictate his ceiling. It’s entirely likely that he falls back to earth a bit once he’s out of Lancaster this year or the next, but his slightly shortened swing mechanics, his stronger hands and wrists, and his improved bat speed from a year ago all point to a guy who is working very hard through the development process. The benefits from that will continue to come after this summer. Even considering his breakout here, Rogers is a fringy prospect who most likely will slot as a fourth outfielder/platoon type in the big leagues one day, especially considering some of the young guys ahead of him likely to make up the Rockies’ outfield core for years to come. But he’s improved himself far, far beyond the move from Modesto to Lancaster alone. Assume his offensive surge is only a product of The Hangar at your own peril.
Wes Rogers, OF, Colorado Rockies — Prospect Video
In addition to that feature interview with Wes Rogers and this follow-up analysis, we’ve got several dozen at-bats of the Colorado Rockies prospect on tape. You can see them by date/series from this year and last year right here:
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