The third time was the charm in the Southern League for Trevor Rogers.
The Marlins' No. 9 prospect racked up 10 strikeouts over seven innings on Saturday, yielding two hits and a walk, as Double-A Jacksonville beat Tennessee, 2-0, at Smokies Stadium. It was his fourth outing this season with double-digit punchouts, the most recent coming on July 27 for Class A Advanced Jupiter.
Video: Jacksonville's Rogers records 10 strikeouts
It was the third appearance at Double-A for Rogers (1-1) and easily his best statistically as he marked new highs in innings and strikeouts and registered his first scoreless showing. In other words -- his, specifically -- the young southpaw has arrived.
"It's a huge confidence-booster knowing that I can pitch here competitively, give my guys a chance to win," he said. "It's showing that I know that I belong here now."
His success was driven by his use of his fastball early in counts and later execution with his slider and cutter. When those factors were clicking early on, he could tell he was on another level.
"Probably the second or third inning, really figured out my release form and all my pitches, getting them in the strike zone," he said. "So, yeah, around that point I knew it was going to be a good day."
Gameday box score
He can't take all the credit, though.
"Santiago Chavez called a heck of a game," he said of his veteran backstop, "so give a lot of credit to him."
Rogers faced the minimum in the first inning, fanning Cubs No. 9 prospect Zack Short for his first strikeout. He allowed two baserunners over the next three frames, one on a single to left by Eddy Martinez in the second and the other on a walk to Jhonny Pereda in the third before a perfect fourth.
He stepped in to bat in the fifth with two outs and Bryson Brigman on third, slapping a line drive up the middle on the first pitch from Erick Leal to put the Jumbo Shrimp ahead. It was Rogers' first career hit and RBI, and came as a surprise to even himself.
Video: Rogers notches first career knock
"I really wasn't expecting a whole lot out of myself. Haven't hit competitively in two years," he said. "But he threw me a fastball middle -- probably a little above my knees, probably middle away -- and I just took it back where it came from."
It also surprised his teammates, leading to a memorable moment that came as the cherry on top of an already special performance.
"They were all really excited," he said. "Probably pretty shocked that I made contact, too. But yeah, it was fun. I got the ball from it and everything, got a ribbie. It was awesome."
It wasn't only important in terms of personal milestones, however. Rogers drove in the first run of the ballgame, helping lift the weight off his own shoulders by providing some cushion on the mound -- not that he needed it.
It was smooth sailing from there as the New Mexico native set the Smokies down in order in the fifth and six. He gave up a leadoff single to Vimael Machin in the seventh but responded by striking out the next three batters to cap his outing.
2019 MiLB include
Rogers sports a 2.83 ERA between the Jumbo Shrimp and Hammerheads. He posted a 2.53 clip in 18 Florida State League starts, giving up five runs over 16 2/3 innings since his promotion to the Southern League on Aug. 3. And now that he's proven he can pitch effectively at the level, he thinks those numbers may only get better.
"I'm doing pretty well," he said. "They're a lot more patient up here, they know their game plan, they know what they're looking for. So I just have to -- not be perfect, you know, no one's perfect -- but just locate my pitches and not be 'nasty.' Just locate and let the pitch do its thing."
Vincenzo Aiello pitched the eighth and Tommy Eveld worked around a hit and a walk by striking out two in the ninth for his eighth save, finishing off Jacksonville's 10th shutout of the season.