Tuesday, February 9, 2016

From the Prospect Handbook: Taylor Rogers

Taylor Rogers is a 25-year-old left-handed pitcher who grew up in Colorado, pitched for the University of Kentucky and signed with the Twins as an 11th round draft pick in 2012, That figures to be a pretty significant draft for the Twins: Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios were the first two selections, and Tyler Duffey was their fifth-rounder, plus there are some other interesting arms still in the pipeline (J.T. Chargois, Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard).

In that crowd, Rogers might have been something of an afterthought. Instead, he has moved steadily up the ladder. He spent 2015 in the Triple A rotation and racked up 174 innings; then he pitched in the Arizona Fall League for another 25. He was No. 15 on the BA Twins prospect list a year ago (one slot ahead of Duffey); he's No. 14 this year.

He's been almost strictly a starter in his four seasons in the Twins chain -- 101 starts, eight relief appearances (including two stints in the AFL). But he's viewed more as a bullpen possibility for 2016, partly because of the bulk of starters ahead of him and partly because of his stuff and limitations.

From Mike Bernardino's writeup in the Prospect Handbook:

Rogers shows plus command and works at 90-93 mph with late movement on his fastball. His sluvry breaking ball, including a slower version at 76 mph, has helped him dominate lefties (.411 OPS). His changeup, however, still lacks the required separation, as shown by the .843 OPS and 41 extra-base hits he allowed to righties. He focused heavily on the changeup in Arizona, throwing as many as 15 per outing.

There's a lot to like in that description and one obvious issue. I get the impression that the Twins are not that interested in carrying a true LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY); they want their lefty relievers to be able to deal with at least an occasional right-handed hitter. Theoretically, a pitcher lacking a straight change but with a quality breaking ball that he can change speeds on can thrive in the bullpen, but Rogers apparently needs something to combat righties with.

Which. also theoretically, makes Neil Allen an ideal pitching coach pairing for him. Rogers will be in interesting pitcher to follow this spring.

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