INDIANAPOLIS – He thought it was his turn. No more part-time role, Jason Rogers was in line to possibly be a major league starting first baseman this season.

But within eight days, he found himself in another organization. Instead of being an everyday player at the major league level with Milwaukee, Rogers is in the Pirates’ system in Triple-A Indianapolis.

Disappointment is probably the biggest obstacle Rogers has encountered this season. But that emotion is not because he’s in the Pirates organization, but rather that he’s back in the minor leagues.

Rogers got his first extended time at the major league level last season, appearing in 86 games for the Brewers with 22 starts at first base. He hit .296 with an .808 OPS in 152 plate appearances, which includes a .265 average over 49 pinch-hit at-bats.

Then in the off-season, the Brewers traded starting first baseman Adam Lind to the Mariners. That essentially left Rogers as the team’s only first baseman.

Well, for about eight days. Then they traded Rogers to the Pirates for minor league outfielder Keon Broxton and pitcher Trey Supak. The trade caught Rogers off-guard, as he expected to be in contention for a starting role.

“I really did,” Rogers said. “I had been there for a while and showed what I could do when I play everyday. I thought it was going to be me, but then I got traded to the Pirates.”

Rogers proved himself as an offensive threat in the Brewers’ minor league system. He had a 1.056 OPS in 33 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs last season, before being promoted to the Brewers. In 2014, he had a .947 OPS in 57 games at Triple-A.

“I like his approach at the plate, I really do,” Indians manager Dean Treanor said. “He’s a threat at the plate at this level. I think there’s a lot of factors that come into play with this. We’ve sat down and talked. I think this guy’s experience is good. He’s good in the clubhouse.”

The main factor: Playing in Triple-A.

“You know, he’s here,” Treanor said. “It’s not where he wants to be. But I think he does a good job with that. You know that he thinks about it.”

The Pirates use one phrase frequently with their minor league players, telling them to remember “Where your feet are.” The phrase is used to remind players to focus on their role for whatever team they’re with at the time. Rogers said he tries to keep that ideology fresh in his mind, but admitted that it’s not always an easy task.

“There are times that, since I’ve been in Triple-A for a while, I lose concentration,” Rogers said. “I’ve done well in Triple-A in the past. I got in the big leagues, got that experience, and know what it takes. Probably my approach and concentration [is the biggest focus of improvement.]”

Rogers has a .738 OPS in 31 games with Indianapolis this season, but he was hitting well in mid-May before a recent slide. He had a 1.118 OPS through the first 11 games of the season, before being promoted to the Pirates. But once Jung Ho Kang returned from his injury, Rogers was sent back to Indianapolis.

During his time with the Pirates, Rogers had just two hits in 13 plate appearances over the span of nine games. It was not quite the hot start he wanted to showcase. Looking back, he feels he may have pressed too much once promoted.

“They only saw me for four or six games last year,” Rogers said. “Maybe I was pressing too much. I didn’t too well and that’s tough. Because of last year I feel confident about what I can do going forward.”

Half of his games with the Indians have been as a designated hitter, while Rogers has split the remainder of his games between first and third base. Rogers had not been used as a designated hitter extensively since playing for High-A Brevard County in 2012.

“It was tough then, but now I know the mindset,” Rogers said. “You just have to keep your body loose and be prepared mentally for when I’m in. I’m stretching all the time to keep this big body loose.”

Rogers is on the Pirates’ 40-man roster. He’s a likely call-up candidate when rosters expand later this season, as he can play multiple positions and has shown the ability to successfully be used as a pinch-hitter.

“This guy is a threat,” Treanor said. “He will help us in Pittsburgh at some point.”

Rogers will do what he needs to do in Indianapolis, but hopes that opportunity to help the Pirates comes sooner than later.

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  1. I hated this trade when it happened and still do, but somethings have to be evaluated from where it is currently so i see this as a depth move. Should Freese or Kang not hold up you have an internal option with some MLB experience available.
    That could be a critical asset at some point, the cost was pretty high for a maybe depth player though.
    If there was a need for depth I wonder now have others risen to be more valuable options like Frazier, Moroff, Hanson, Bell… You couldn’t count on that I guess at the beginning of the year but now it would be more likely Jason is really no longer the best option.

  2. Never quite got this deal. Seemed liked a headscratcher when it was made and after Joyce and Freese were added, just made it worse. It will probably end up no big deal unless Supak shakes the injuries.

  3. Rodgers is dreaming as there is no 1st. base job opening at Pittsburgh. Not as long as Neal’s fair haired boy [Jaso] is there. Hands down the best free agent is Joyce but he made a mistake signing with the Pirates as he has no full time job here and he can hit.

    • Oops I forgot one thing, this thread is not with the party line and will be moved down as soon as TW sees it.

          • a .270 – .280 singles hitter batting leadoff with less than average speed who was moved to 1st. base. No thanks from the peanut gallery.

        • I figured out that you do not like my style of writing. I won’t cheerlead when it is not called for. I like how Neal put this team togather but a few of his moves makes little sense.

          • To be honest, I don’t really know your style of writing. I know you post a lot on here, but it’s rare that I keep track of who likes which player. I didn’t know until this thread that you don’t like Jaso. And it doesn’t really bother me. Definitely not enough to impact the comments.

            I have people who come on the comments weekly and rip me personally for my lack of scouting skills, or for not knowing what I’m talking about with specific players. If I’m not pushing their comments down, why would I do that for you, when you’re just saying you don’t like Jaso and think Bell should be up?

    • No complaints about Jaso. He has played much better with both offense and defense than Pedro did. And Joyce had a down year with the Angels and played winter ball to work on his swing. Signed as a minor league free agent. Didn’t make the team until the last week of spring training. Both players have increased their value with the Pirates.

  4. Well, Jason, you first have to show you can hit AAA pitching consistently – after a very fast start, he is now in the 260s – which is where you would you expect him to be, given his long history in the minors.
    Barring injuries, I don’t see much of a future for Rogers in Pittsburgh. He is very limited position wise, given his size and limited agility, so he has to hit in order to stick. With Jaso at first base, and guys like Freese, Rodriguez, and Bell all available to also play first base, he seems pretty blocked. I know he supposedly can play third base and outfield, but those positions are equally stocked between Pittsburgh and Indy.
    Lets face it, it was bad trade when it was announced and its now looking worse. It will all depend on whether Supak pans out for the Brewers or not…

    • At the time of the trade, Freese wasn’t on roster. It only appears to be an unneeded trade after he was signed.

      • It wasn’t so much that it was unneeded, it was that we way overpaid for a career 27 year old minor leaguer who had 1/3 of a MLB season under his belt. Time will tell to what degree we overpaid, but Rogers should not have cost what we paid – if they wouldn’t take Broxton straight up, I would have walked away before tossing in a promising young starting pitcher who we spent a second pick on….

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