Wes Rogers has been catching the attention of everyone following the Rockies farm system since his professional debut for one simple reason: he’s a master at stealing bases. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, Rogers already has 171 steals to his name in 245 minor-league games. Perhaps even more impressive than the sheer number of steals is his efficiency doing it. Rogers has only been caught 24 times in his career and boasts a 88% success rate when attempting to steal.
I had an opportunity recently to talk with Rogers about his expertise in stealing bases and what makes him different from other fast prospects who struggle to be successful stealing bases. For those curious, there is no easy secret to his success. For Rogers the key is “just trying to stay aggressive, trust your first read, and just be instinctual on the bases. Don't try to make it like a robotic movement don't try to be too perfect get a big lead and trust your first read.”
Rogers’ ability to steal bases is not a recent development but instead comes from his time as the smallest kid on the baseball team. “Growing up as a lankier skinnier kid, and everyone is kind of bigger than me all the way through probably my freshman year of college. So I kind of had to have something to make myself stand out a little bit and I couldn’t really hit for power. I was just kind of a slap hitter just trying to do what I can at the top the order to put myself in scoring position as many times as possible. So it kind of just stuck with me and lucky for me I kind of started to fill out and develop and I could do some other things as well so it was just the icing on the cake.”
Rogers’ proficiency with the bat has taking another step forward this season as he has repeated High-A. While he’s already set a new personal high with 60 steals this season, more impressive might be his .308/.368/.483 triple-slash line. While it has come at hitter-friendly Lancaster, the improvement isn’t all due to that. Rogers’ credits his offseason workout and change in routine with helping to produce better results. “Just get a little bit stronger, got a little faster this offseason and tried to refine my approach as a hitter. I was more of a reactionary hitter last year. I was trying to load and see the pitch and do all that stuff at the same time. I'm just trying to load a little bit earlier, shorten down my movements, let my hands work a little bit better and manage my strike zone and it's working out so far.”
Rogers is also benefiting from having a manager in Fred Ocasio who wants his team to be aggressive on the base paths. Lancaster is leading the Cal League in steals with 238. For comparison, Modesto is second with 107. While the JetHawks have five different players with over 20 steals already this season, Garrett Hampson is the one to watch out for according to Rogers. Normally hitting leadoff would be advantage for stealing, but when the red-hot Brendan Rodgers was hitting behind him and crushing pitches early in the count, it reduced Hampson’s opportunities to steal.
Rogers is still feeling good going into the latter part of the season and is looking primed to be able to beat his season goal of 80 steals. With his development this year, it’s also looking like he should be joining the Hartford Yard Goats next season which means he could be a September call-up as soon as next year if the team thinks it needs a pinch-runner threat for their playoff run.
If you want to hear more from Wes, be sure to follow him on Twitter at @wesleyrogers1.