A late-round Draft pick out of a Division II school, Jason Rogers may not be among the Brewers' most well-known prospects out there, but he's in Arizona trying to change, pitch by pitch.
"I know what I can do," he said. "I've got to work harder because I was a 32nd-round pick. But I know I can play with all these guys."
Coming off a breakout season, Rogers is showing he can. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Tuesday, while Travis Shaw and Ryan Rua homered to lead Surprise past Glendale, 4-2, in the Arizona Fall League.
Shaw, a Red Sox first baseman batting cleanup, was 2-for-3 and blasted his fifth AFL homer in the seventh inning. Rua, a Rangers third baseman, launched his third of the fall in the fourth. Rogers delivered an RBI single in the third, doubled and scored in the fifth and singled again in the seventh.
"I felt good, I made some adjustments as game went along," said Rogers. "They were pitching me inside and I stayed with it and hit them where they were pitched."
Glendale struck first when Brent Keys (Marlins) smacked a one-out solo homer in the opening inning. The Desert Dogs added a run in the third on an RBI single by Reds No. 15 prospect Yorman Rodriguez. Surprise responded in the bottom of the third on Rogers' RBI single to left and tied it on Rua's leadoff shot in the fourth.
The Saguaros took the lead in the fifth when Shaw reached on a passed ball on a third strike and came home on Tony Wolters' sacrifice fly.
For Rogers, joining Surprise is an opportunity to prove his 2013 season, in which he hit .270 with 22 homers and 87 RBIs, wasn't a fluke. A Southern League All-Star with Double-A Huntsville, he appeared in 133 games and established career highs in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage (.468). The 25-year-old had more homers this season than his previous three years combined.
"The biggest thing was getting in better shape this year, staying healthy," the Columbus State University product said. "I've had problems with that in the past. I sometimes stayed in cages before and after games."
Rogers has seen his hot hitting carry over to the prospect-laden AFL, where he's batting .348 with two homers, seven RBIs and a .464 on-base percentage in 14 games. He's hit safely in seven of his last eight starts and homered in consecutive games on Oct. 24-25.
One thing is different, however. After playing nearly every game at first base for Huntsville, Rogers is relearning the outfield alongside fellow Brewers prospect Mitch Haniger. He's started 12 of his 14 games in left field, making two appearances in right.
"I played mostly left last year (2012) and the year before, so it's really just about getting my confidence back up out there," Rogers said. "It's been great [playing with Haniger], I haven't played with him at all before. It's fun seeing him out there to see what he's got. We're learning from each other in the outfield. It's fun."
Rogers, starring on a first-place team, also sees Surprise as a championship contender in the six-team AFL.
"We just [need] to keep doing what we're doing, don't give away at-bats and hopefully make it to the championship [game] and go from there," he said.
Surprise starter Will Lamb (Rangers) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk over 3 2/3 innings before Shawn Armstrong (Indians) recorded four outs to earn his first win. Keone Kela (Rangers) struck out a pair in the ninth for his second save.
Stephan McCray (White Sox) started for Glendale and was charged with two runs on six hits and a pair of walks over 3 1/3 innings. Trevor May (Twins) fanned three but took the loss after allowing an unearned run on one hit in 1 2/3 frames.