Rogers forged his reputation as a standout defensive catcher at Tulane, where he was a Johnny Bench Award finalist his sophomore and junior seasons. Originally a third-round pick by the Astros, Rogers proved more than a just a gifted defender as he turned in a strong offensive performance in his first full season. Looking like he might be the total package, Rogers became part of the trade return that brought Justin Verlander to Houston and sent Rogers, Franklin Perez and Daz Cameron to the Tigers in August 2017. Two years later, Rogers has furthered his defensive credentials catching Detroit’s highly-rated pitching prospects before earning his first big-league call-up in July 2019.
Behind the plate, Rogers has been regarded as Major League ready for well over a year. His strong arm and quick release shut down would-be basestealers, while pitchers who work with him rave about his ability to read hitters, call a game and coax strike calls on the corners with a quiet mitt. He had uncharacteristic problems with nine passed balls in his brief Tigers tenure last year, mostly on pitches headed for the dirt, but Tigers officials believe he carried his offensive woes onto the field with him.
His hitting struggles, by comparison, were far from new. He arrived from the Astros' system with an all-or-nothing, launch-angle kind of swing, and Tigers coaches have yet to get a line-drive approach to stick, though a strong early stretch at Double-A Erie in 2019 raised hope. He was rushed to Detroit by late summer, but his 51 strikeouts in 128 plate appearances forced officials to reconsider if he was ready. While Rogers’ work behind the plate will land him a job in the big leagues sooner than later, his adjustment in the box will determine if he’s a starter or backup.
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 65 | Field: 70 | Overall: 50
Regarded by many as the best defensive catcher in the 2016 Draft, Rogers has only strengthened his reputation as a pro. Originally a third-round pick by the Astros, Rogers proved more than just a gifted defender as he turned in a strong offensive performance in his first full season. Looking like he might be the total package as dual-threat catcher, the Tigers acquired Rogers with Franklin Perez and Daz Cameron in the August 2017 blockbuster for Justin Verlander. Spending his first full season with the Tigers in Double-A, Rogers continued to showcase his defensive prowess but underwhelmed with the bat.
Rogers' stellar defense is his ticket to the big leagues, and there's a large contingent of scouts and executives that believe there's no one better in the Minors. He is an outstanding receiver and framer who is agile behind the plate and works well with pitchers. His plus, highly accurate arm and superb catch-and-throw skills enable him to shut down the running game, as he threw out 46 percent of attempted basestealers in his first full season followed by 56 percent (50 of 90) at Double-A Erie in 2018.
The leg kick in Rodgers' swing that served him well in 2017 detracted from his ability to hit in Double-A, where timing issues made him susceptible to good sequencing and resulted in too much swing-and-miss. When he did make contact, Rogers consistently hit the ball in the air, so there's reason to believe his above-average raw power will continue to play even if never hits for much average. Overall, it's the profile of at least a defensive-minded backup catcher in the big leagues, perhaps even a regular if he can unlock more of his potential with the bat.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 65 | Field: 70 | Overall: 45
Rogers' Draft stock was largely based on his abilities behind the plate, where he was clearly the best defensive catcher in the 2016 Draft class. It was enough for the Astros to take him in the third round. He lived up to his defensive billing during his first year-plus as a pro and he produced more offensively during his first full season. Houston included him as part of the package sent to the Tigers in late August in return for Justin Verlander.
Few doubt Rogers' ability to make it to the big leagues on his glovework alone. He is an outstanding receiver who moves well behind the plate and works well with pitchers. His plus arm, a combination of solid arm strength with a very quick release and uncanny accuracy, continues to cut down the running game, to the tune of a 46 percent caught stealing rate in 2017. While he may never hit for a high average, Rogers has always had strength and raw power to tap into. He was on time with his swing much more frequently in 2017, which allowed him to clear fences more consistently. He helps his cause with a willingness to draw walks.
At the outset of his pro career, Rogers looked like he fit the defensive-minded backup profile perfectly. If he keeps swinging the bat like he did in his first full season, it's easy to see him as a glove-first regular in a big league lineup.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 45 | Run: 30 | Arm: 65 | Field: 65 | Overall: 50
Undrafted out of high school because of his commitment to Tulane, Rogers developed into college baseball's best defensive catcher in three years with the Green Wave. He led NCAA Division I (58 percent) and the Cape Cod League (71 percent) in caught-stealing percentage in 2015, then erased 63 percent of basestealers as a junior last spring. Some scouts considered him the best defender at any position in the 2016 Draft, when the Astros nabbed him in the third round. He was finishing off a solid first full season when Houston sent him to the Tigers as part of the Justin Verlander deal.
Rogers' arm strength is merely solid but plays up a full grade because he makes such quick and accurate throws. Shutting down the running game is just one facet of his defensive brilliance. His agility and soft hands make him an excellent receiver who already has good feel for framing pitches.
While Rogers should make it to the big leagues on his defense alone, his bat will determine whether he becomes an everyday player. A career .233/.333/.309 hitter at Tulane who had a so-so pro debut, he looked much better in 2017 after improving his timing and curbing what had been a pull-happy approach. He has the strength to hit homers and the eye to draw walks.