This Sunday Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured Mark Rogers, the man currently listed as the Milwaukee Brewers' #1 Prospect. The Brewers selected Rogers in the first round of the 2004 draft. Rogers previously sat atop the Brewers' prospect list in 2006, second only to a young slugger named Prince Fielder (you may have heard of him). He made his major league debut in 2010 after years in prospect wilderness. Rogers' late-season success in Milwaukee's bullpen and starting rotation marks the culmination of an incredible comeback effort.
In 2007 Rogers began to feel shoulder discomfort while pitching for the Brewers Class A affiliate at Brevard County, and that winter he had shoulder surgery to repair a frayed labrum. Unfortunately Rogers required a second surgery in 2008 to cleanup scar tissue around the site of the original surgery. Of the second surgery, Rogers said:
It was scary to go back under the knife again. But the second surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me. Once I got past that, I felt like I had a new arm again.After two seasons away from the game, Rogers' rehab efforts began to pay off. He pitched at Brevard County in 2009 without any shoulder discomfort, though Brewers officials carefully watched his workload (64.2 innings pitched). In 2010 Rogers pitched fairly well for the Huntsville Stars, the Brewers AA affiliate, again under a restricted workload (111.2 IP), though his pitch control declined slightly (69 BB vs 29 BB in 2010). The Brewers rewarded Rogers' years of hard work by calling him up to join the big league staff in September of 2010.
|Rogers pumps his first after|
escaping the first inning
without giving up a run
Throughout 2009 and 2010 Rogers put himself in a position to return to the top of the Brewers' prospect list. He worked hard and exhibited the mental toughness necessary to complete a two-year rehab (most players will tell you that missing a single season due to injury takes high levels of focus and toughness, let alone two). Doug Melvin's offseason magic this winter propelled Rogers into the #1 spot after he traded the Brewers top three prospects, Brett Lawrie, Jake Odorizzi, and Jeremy Jeffress for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke.
Rogers is big league ready, but will likely begin 2011 pitching for the AAA Nashville sounds where he can continue to improve his craft without the pressure of the Majors. Pitching in AAA will also make it easier for the Brewers again to limit his workload, given his history. But Brewers fans can expect to see him in Milwaukee this year, by September at the latest or perhaps earlier if the Brewers have to deal with injuries to their pitching staff. He should be a full-time Brewer by the 2012 season.
Rogers' major league debut marks an incredible comeback, and going forward he is one for fans to watch. That 2004 first-round draft pick may just yet pay off for the Brewers.
Click here for highlights from Rogers' first major league start.