With Kyle Funkhouser entering the 2015 draft and taken in the first round, Josh Rogers was set to open up the 2016 season as the staff ace for Louisville. That was likely an opportunity he could not pass up. One that would probably improve his draft stock greatly. Major league teams seemed to understand this, so they passed on him until the Yankees took a shot at him in the 11th round.
Funkhouser ended up passing on a $1.7 million contract to stay at Louisville, which meant Rogers was relegated back to the same role if he chose to stay in college. Likely realizing this was not the way he wanted things to play out, the Yankees were able to sign Rogers for $485,000, roughly third round money. This was a huge victory for the Yankees, as they got a third round talent in the 11th round.
Rogers had an excellent sophomore season in 2015 with Louisville. He pitched 93.2 innings and had a 3.36 ERA with an 82/25 K/BB ratio. Then he pitched in the Cape Cod league in the Spring and was even better. He threw 20.1 innings, had a 3.09 ERA, and 16 K with seven walks.
By the time he got to the Yankees he had a lot of innings on his arm for a young pitcher. The Yankees gave him a couple of outings to get his feet wet anyway. For Staten Island and Charleston he pitched a total of 13.1 innings and had a 4.05 ERA with 16 K and just three walks. Rogers threw 127.1 innings total last season, which means he will not have any innings restrictions in his first season.
Position: Starting pitcher
Age: 21 (Born July 10, 1994 in New Albany, IN)
Draft: 11th round out of Lousville
Best pitch: Fastball
Josh Rogers is a big kid with good stuff who is still relatively young. His fastball is not yet showing the plus velocity, as he would sit more 87-91 mph in college. His other pitches include a slider that has above average potential and a changeup which is still a work in progress.
Where Rogers really excels is in his pitchability and control. He’s a guy who can give you innings and durability. He goes after hitters, and he locates all of his pitches well.
Rogers also has experience at a big school in the NCAA, which means he is likely already ready for Low-A in the minor leagues, if not higher. Big game experience is invaluable in the minor leagues.
At his size and with the Yankees’ staff, I would expect an uptick in all of Rogers’ stuff. The velocity will go up, and the Yankees will help him get his slider much sharper. They Yankees staff has had great success training lefties with the changeup as well, so I expect that to become at least an average offering for him.
Right now Rogers projects as a back end starter, but one with a reasonable chance of reaching that projection. If he has an uptick in stuff he could easily become more than that. The stuff is very similar to Jordan Montgomery when the Yankees drafted him, and he’s come a long way since then. The floor would be a guy who never improves and likely ends up a career minor leaguer.
He will start 2016 in Charleston. With his experience pitching in the ACC and success in the Cape Cod league, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be successful and will likely earn a promotion to High-A at some point during the season. From there he will probably be a one level a year guy. He could be major league ready by late 2018 or early 2019.
Any time you can get a guy like Josh Rogers in the 11th round and sign him, you’ve done a great job with your draft. The 2015 draft added quite a few good arms to the fold for the Yankees. Starting with Kaprielian, the Yankees managed to add Degano, Drew Finley, Chance Adams, and then Josh Rogers. That doesn’t even include Koerner, Kolton Mahoney, and Will Carter who all have considerable ceilings in their own right. This was an excellent draft for pitching, which is exactly what the Yankees’ system needed this year.