Leading up to Day 1 of the MLB Draft on June 12, we will be conducting Q&A interviews with many prospects who are projected to be first-rounders. For a complete listing of these interviews, click here.
Next up is Carlsbad (N.M) left-hander Trevor Rogers, a 19-year old Texas Tech commit. The 6-foot-6, 185-lb. southpaw is regarded as one of the most projectable young pitchers in this year’s draft.
Rogers is slated to be the 14th overall pick in our latest composite mock draft, with MLB.com (12th-Pirates), ESPN (14th-Royals) and Baseball America (14th-Royals) all pegging him to be off the board in the first half of the first round. Be sure to check out Rogers’ full scouting report over at SB Nation’s Minor League Ball.
When did you first get into baseball and love that you loved playing the game?
"As soon as I stepped on the field at probably 5-6 years old. Picking up a ball for the first time and throwing it to my dad, because he was one of the coaches. Hitting the ball off the tee and hitting it to the fence every time, it’s just a really good game and I fell in love with it the first time I stepped onto the field.”
Growing up, did you have a favorite MLB team? Favorite player?
"My favorite team, still to this day, is the Yankees. Just the winning tradition they had, it was always fun to watch those teams play. My favorite player is probably Brandon Crawford.”
Was there a turning point moment for you when you realized you could play pro ball and potentially become a first-round pick?
"Probably, freshman going into sophomore year. I really had no idea it would take off to where I am now. That was really the turning point for me, when it went from potentially being a good college player to possibly being a pro baseball player.”
Former major-leaguer Cody Ross is your first cousin. What impact has he had on this entire process for you?
"We’ve connected a few times, just with schedules it’s kind of hard to talk to him all the time. He’s given me a few tips of advice and it’s really helped. Just saying that you have to be confident and know that you are better than some guys even though they do beat you sometimes. You’re gonna come back and beat them, so just that confidence is where he came into play.”
What led to your decision to commit to play college ball at Texas Tech?
"I just love the city of Lubbock, it’s probably my favorite city. I have a lot of family there and I just really fell in love with the campus, the school and the education part...and obviously, the baseball team. They’re in the regional right now and I think they can make things happen, get pretty far and get back to Omaha.”
For you, what will be the biggest factors in your decision in a few weeks on whether you’ll actually end up in Lubbock or go pro?
"Probably just my lifelong goal of being a professional baseball player. That’s just probably my ultimate decision. I’ve worked so hard and put all the work in to get to this point. We’ll see what happens. It’s only the beginning.”
This draft is unusual in that there are a ton of projectable, highly regarded high school lefties available. What are your thoughts on that, with D.L. Hall and MacKenzie Gore among the others available?
"They’re there for a reason. They’re top-caliber guys who deserve every part of it just as much as I do. They’re trying to compete and get to where we are, and I’m just really happy for those guys and wish them the best.”
At just 19, you’re already 6-foot-6 and may not even be done growing. What are the advantages of having that height going forward?
"I think it definitely helps with being that much closer to the plate when I release and having that big, tall build. Projection is very key in the game. The scouts see what I can be, if I were to grow size-wise or weight-wise. It’s come in handy quite a bit.”
In your game, what’s your biggest strength?
"Probably being mentally tough. I don’t let things get to me very easily. It takes a lot for things to get me rattled. That doesn’t happen very often.”
On the other side of that, what’s the part of your game you hope to work on the most moving forward?
"Command with my off-speed pitches. I’ve definitely improved since Area Codes and Perfect Game, but it still has a lot more room for improvement. Just improving my consistency of all pitches.”
There’s always the debate about whether teams should pick high-floor, polished college arms or projectable, high-ceiling high school pitchers. As one of those high-end projectable guys, what is your ceiling?
"I agree wholeheartedly [about being projectable]. With the time and work, it’s not gonna be handed to me. I’m gonna have to go out there and put my work in to get better. I’m willing to do that. I can see it if all the other guys see it. That’s what it’s gonna have to take.”
You’re in a bit of a unique position as a New Mexico native in this draft, as a lot of top prospects are from more traditional places like Texas, Florida and California. What’s it like pitching in New Mexico, and are there any disadvantages to pitching in a lesser baseball state?
"I think it comes with a little disadvantage. It’s a smaller town that’s hard to get to. We do have some good caliber programs up north in Albuquerque, with La Cueva being a good program. I’ve pitched against some of the better teams in Albuquerque. Even though I don’t pitch against the best, high-caliber teams, I go out there and try to get better each and every day. I’m my own worst critic. If I miss a spot, even if they swung and missed, I remind myself that if I were somewhere else, they’re gonna hit that. I try to, even though the competition is not that good, to be the best that I can be.”
Your high school senior year experience is a unique one, as you’re balancing graduating and playing playoff baseball with the reality of going pro in a couple of weeks. Have things changed for you at school?
"It’s been pretty cool. People don’t really treat me any different. They congratulated me and said it was awesome to watch me on TV, but I just wanted to be treated like Trevor. Nothing more, nothing less. They just treated me just like Trevor, like I was an ordinary guy. I appreciated that.”
Time for the comp question. Which major-leaguer, either in the league now or a former player, do you compare your game to most?
"Probably Chris Sale or Andrew Miller. Those guys come from a three-quarter arm slot and both are pretty tall and slender. I compare my pitching ability to both of them.”
Do you have any expectations for where you’ll be selected in the draft? Any goals?
"I really don’t know. There has been a couple teams that have shown really good interest. I really don’t know where I’ll land. I’ve looked at a couple of mock drafts but I’ve been told those aren’t the truest and honest things to look at. Some having me going in the middle of the first round, which would be pretty cool. I don’t know where I’ll land. Whatever team gets me, they’re not making a bad decision. They’ll get every ounce of blood, sweat and competitiveness in me and I’ll try to make that organization into a championship organization.”