2013 Wrap-up: Talking Baseball With Brewers Minor League Player Of The Year, Jason Rogers

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by Kevin Kimmes

When I joined Cream City Cables in January of 2012, one of the first things I chose to undertake was expanding our coverage of The Brewers’ minor league affiliates, specifically the Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. That dream became a reality that spring affording me the opportunity to cover the Rattlers as they went on to win the Midwest League Championship and along the way I got to sit down and talk with many great players. The first of those players was Jason Rogers.

Since I initially talked to Jason , he has gone on to accomplish much in his young career including a promotion to Double-A Huntsville. It was at Double-A in 2013 that Jason would show what he was capable of, and in the process be named The Brewers 2013 Minor League Player of the Year.

I recently caught up with Jason to discuss his 2013 campaign, his off-season plans, and his goals going forward.

CCC: This season with Double-A Huntsville, you led the Southern League in RBIs, ranked 2nd in home runs, third in total bases and fourth in extra-base hits. Additionally, you played in nearly every game this season (133 total). What do you attribute this season’s success to? Was there one aspect of your game that you focused on in the offseason to prepare you for this season?

JR: I changed my offseason workout this year. In the past I worked out to stay healthy and flexible. This year I did a lot more running and strength workouts. Experience played a big part too. It helped get me out of that slump I was in during the month of June.

CCC: Receiving the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year Award is a huge honor, with all but one of it’s recipients (2012 winner Hunter Morris) eventually playing in the majors. What went through your mind when you first heard that you were going to be receiving the award? Additionally, what was it like stepping on to the field at Miller Park to receive the award?

JR: I was happy to see that my hard work and dedication was finally paying off. I knew if I stayed healthy this year and changed my in-season workouts that I would have a dominant year. Receiving the award on the field was a great experience for me. It shows you how you’re not that far away from the big leagues.

CCC: Your primary position is 1B. Word is that the team is looking to expand your range and will be working you out at 3B and OF. What do you see as your biggest challenges in relation to these new assignments? Is there any apprehension to playing other positions after seeing so much success at your current position?

JR: A challenge for me at 3B would be my lateral movement, because it’s been a few years since I’ve played 3B. I played 3B in college, so just getting that confidence and footwork back will be the only challenges to me. I just need a lot of reps with OF.

CCC: Your offseason is shaping up to be anything but time off. You are currently working on instructionals and will also be participating in the Arizona Fall League. How are you approaching this as opposed to offseasons past? Do you find that the more structured environment helps you to focus and hone in more on individual aspects of the game?

JR: I will treat this offseason like I did last year. I am doing the same workouts as I was this time last year. With my body type I can’t afford to sit around and do nothing. I have to stay active and get my rest when needed. Being here until mid-November helps me keep my baseball skills sharp longer which will help in the future.

CCC: Finally, what will be the biggest thing that you take away from this season? Is there a certain moment or memory that will stick with you for the rest of your life?

JR: My three homer game was a special moment for me. I’ve hit a lot of two homer games in my career but never a three homer. Not many people can say they did that in their career so I think it’s a special moment when it happens.

I’d like to thank Jason for taking time out of his busy schedule to make this interview possible, and to wish him all the best as he continues his quest to make the Brewers roster.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Win Midwest League Championship

20120917-110332.jpgby Kevin Kimmes

Despite leaving Appleton on Thursday tied at a game a piece, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were able to overcome the hostile environment of playing on the road and took games 3 and 4 in Fort Wayne in order to win their first Midwest League pennant. The win was the cherry on the sunday of what was an amazing season for Milwaukee’s Low-A affiliate. So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the highlights.

8 Timber Rattlers Take Part in the Midwest League All-Star Game

The following players took part in this years All-Star Game held at Kane County:

Greg Hopkins
Seth Harvey
Drew Gagnon
Rafael Neda
Jason Rogers
Tommy Toledo
Mark Williams
Yadiel Rivera.

7 Players Promoted to High-A Brevard County

Jason Rogers
John Dishon
Seth Harvey
Parker Berberet
Tommy Toledo
Drew Gagnon
Andy Moye

Rehab Starts A Plenty

The following Brewers each spent some time on the Appleton Roster this year:

Carlos Gomez
Jonathan Lucroy
Shaun Marcum

For the Record

Brandon Macias set a dubious team record becoming the most hit batsman in team history. Macias was hit 21 times this season, breaking the old record of 18 times held by Luis Tinoco.

Chadwin Stang’s 19 game hitting streak was the 3rd longest in team history behind Luis Tinoco (27 in 1996) and Josh Womack (22 in 2005).

Ben McMahan became only the 2nd player in team history to record double digits in doubles, triples and home runs in a season with 21/11/15. The only other player to complete this accomplishment was Chris Colton in 2004.

The following players had multi-homer games this season:

Tyler Roberts
Max Walla
Cameron Garfield
Greg Hopkins (x2)

Cream City Cables would like to not only congratulate the players, coaches, and staff for all they did to make this championship possible, but also would like to thank the organization for providing us access to the team and players throughout the season. I can’t wait to get the 2013 season started to see what the team does in defense of the title.

Walla, Walla, Walkoff: Rattlers Win First Game of Homestand

by Kevin Kimmes

Wednesday, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers returned home to Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium after having completed a six game road trip during which they went 3-3, sweeping the West Michigan Whitecaps before being swept by the South Bend Silver Hawks. Looking to return to their winnings ways, and finding themselves just one game back of the Quad Cities River Bandits for first place, the Rattlers wasted no time getting the offense rolling against their opponent, the Dayton Dragons.

In the bottom of the 1st, right fielder Max Walla singled with one out to give the Rattlers their first base-runner of the night. Walla would score from second on a throwing error to first by Dragon’s starting pitcher Stalin Gerson, giving the Rattlers an early 1-0 advantage.

Walla would double in the bottom of the 3rd and come home on a double from Rattlers’ designated hitter Jason Rogers. Rogers would then score on a bullet to deep left from third baseman Brandon Macias. Macias’ hit would escape the park, traveling under the outfield fence, and after review by the umpiring crew, was ruled a ground rule double. The score after 3 stood at 3-0 Rattlers.

The Dragons showed signs of life in the top of the 4th as second baseman Ryan Wright and first baseman Sean Buckley both walked to lead off the inning.  A two run scoring double from right fielder Steve Selsky would put the Dragons on the board, bringing the score to 3-2 after 3 1/2 innings played.

Dragons’ third baseman, Brandon Dailey, would start off the top of the 4th with a single, eventually tying the game at 3-3 when he scored on a sacrifice fly to center field from Wright. Despite this two inning offensive flourish, the Dragon’s fire had run out.

Taking the tie into the bottom of the 9th inning, Rattlers number 9 hitter, first baseman Greg Hopkins, connected on a 1-1 pitch crushing it over the left field wall and earning the Rattlers their 3rd walk off win of the season.

The Rattlers will play game 2 of this three game series tonight at Time Warner Cable Field. Matt Miller (0-3, 6.75) will take the mound for the Rattlers, while  Justice French (3-1, 2.91) will start for the Dragons. Game time is set for 6:35 pm.

Additional Notes:

- Game 3 of this series will be played Friday night at Miller Park with a 7:05 pm start. All tickets for this game are just $10.00.

- The Dayton Dragons are managed by former Montreal Expo Delino DeShields

Game at a Glance:

Player of the Game: Max Walla – 2/3 (single and a double) – 1 BB – 2 runs scored (1 earned, 1 unearned)

WP: Seth Harvey (2-0, 0.96)
LP: Jimmy Moran (1-2, 4.26)

Time: 2:51
Attendance: 1,076

Splitsville: Rattlers and Bees Split First Double Header of the Year

by Kevin Kimmes

“It’s a great day for a ball game; let’s play two!” – Ernie Banks

Tonight, the Timber Rattlers did exactly that as they faced off in the season’s first double-header against the Burlington Bees (Low A Oakland Athletics). The change of schedule was brought about by inclement weather on Monday which caused the scheduled series opener to be cancelled and rescheduled as one of two 7 inning games to be played on Tuesday night.

Game 1 saw the Timber Rattlers send Matt Miller (0-3, 6.75) to the mound to face off against the Bee’s Drew Granier (2-0, 1.69) in what would be a decidedly lopsided battle. Granier would pitch all seven innings of game 1 holding the Rattlers to a single run scored in the bottom of the 5th inning when 1st baseman Greg Hopkins scored on a  sacrifice fly from 2nd baseman Carlos George.

However, the damage had already been done as the Bees had stung the Rattlers for 3 runs in the top of the 5th. They would put up two more insurance runs in the top of the 7th for a final score of 5-1.

Game 2 saw the Timber Rattlers send Drew Gagnon (1-0, 1.26) to the mound to face off against the Bee’s Jonathon Joseph (0-1, 5.93). The Rattlers, backed by a solid outing by Gagnon, would put up the only runs of the game in the bottom of the 4th inning when both designated hitter Brandon Macias and second baseman Carlos George would score to give the team a 2-0 lead.

Gagnon would pick up the win pitching 5.1 scoreless innings and striking out 6 batters in the process. Finding himself in trouble with one out in the 6th inning and the bases loaded, Gagnon would be replaced by Seth Harvey who would come on in relief and pick up his second save of the young season. Harvey would retire all five batters he faced in order, striking out four and improving his ERA to 1.50.

The split brings the Timber Rattlers record to 6-6 on the season tied with Beloit, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Peoria. The team will play the final game of this home stand Wednesday evening at 6:35pm before heading out on the road for 6 games starting Thursday.

One other note from tonight’s contest: Jason Rogers saw his streak of consecutive games reaching base end at 11 when he failed to get on base in the second game of tonight’s double-header. Rogers, however, continues to lead the team in Batting Average (.317), RBI (8), OBP (.417), and Slugging (.537). Additionally, he is tied with Chadwin Stang for the most homeruns on the team with 2 a piece.

Game(s) at a Glance:

Game 1:

Player(s) of the Game: Nick Rickels and Royce Consigli – Each with 2 runs scored for Burlington

WP: Drew Granier ( 2-0)
LP: Matt Miller (0-3)

Time: 1:52

Game 2:

Player of the Game: Seth Harvey

WP: Drew Gagnon (1-0)
LP: Jonathan Joseph (0-1)
Save: Seth Harvey (2)

Time: 2:07
Attendance: 482

Cheifs Extinguish Rattlers Fire: Series Sweep Broken Up In Final Game

Despite early showers and a questionable forecast, 2,450 fans turned out for the fourth and final game between The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (5-5) and the Peoria Chiefs (4-6) on Sunday. The game marked the midpoint for the Rattlers current homestand, as they will play 3 games against the Burlington Bees early this week before hitting the road Thursday for six games.

The Chiefs wasted no time getting to Rattlers starter Andy Moye as second baseman Zeke DeVoss smashed the first pitch of the game for a triple. DeVoss would score on an RBI grounder from center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen, which gave the Cheifs an early 1-0 advantage.

The Rattlers would answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the 1st thanks to a single from 3rd baseman Brandon Macias. Macias would eventually reach home on a RBI grounder from designated hitter Jason Rogers bringing the score to 1-1.

The Rattlers would tack on a run each in the 4th and 5th innings to pad their lead at 3-1. Despite the low score, the Rattlers appeared to be in the drivers seat thanks to the pitching staff.

Moye, who was stung early in the first, rebounded to have a solid 3 innings of work striking out four and only giving up two hits and two walks. He was relieved in the 4th by Jacob Barnes who put up 4 scoreless innings, followed by Seth Lintz who put together a scoreless 8th on four batters faced.

When Timber Rattlers reliever Tommy Toledo took to the mound, it seemed a foregone conclusion that a win was at hand. However, the inning would prove to be the Rattlers undoing as Toledo would face 8 batters before recording the 3rd out and both shortstop Marco Hernandez and left fielder Oliver Zapata would score tying the score at 3-3.

The Rattlers would respond with a flurry of offense in the bottom of the 9th as Rogers, along with shortstop Yadiel Rivera and left fielder John Dishon, would each single. Unfortunately, that was as far as the offense would go as catcher Tyler Roberts would record the inglorious “Golden Sombrero”, striking out in all four of his at bats, to end the 9th inning and move the game to extra innings.

In the top of the 11th, Zapata blasted a booming 408 foot homer off Tyler Cravy giving the Chiefs a 4-3 advantage. A Chen single would eventually score giving Peoria the 5-3 advantage and the win.

The Rattlers will play the first of 3 games against the Burlington Bees today at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The Rattlers are scheduled to start Matt Miller (0-2, 6.30) while Burlington will send out Drew Granier (0-0, 3.00). Game time is set for 6:35pm.

Game at a Glance:

Player of the Game: Oliver Zapata – 2/4 – 2 Runs – 1 HR – 1 RBI – 1 BB

WP: Yao-Lin Wang (1-0, 0.00)
LP: Tyler Cravy (0-1, 9.00)
BS: Tommy Toledo (1, 6.35)

Time: 3:41
Attn: 2,450

Bringing It All Back Home – Rattlers Win Game 1 Of 7 Game Homestand

by Kevin Kimmes

On a day that saw the Brewers get shut out by the Chicago Cubs 8-0, the Timber Rattlers found themselves in the position to seek a little redemption for their parent club as they took on Cubs affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, in the first game of a 4 game series. Under clear skies and with a game-time temp of 57 degrees, the 740 fans in attendance at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium were in for a great night of April baseball.

The Rattlers struck first in the bottom of the 1st inning when Jason Rogers (playing in left field) connected on a pitch from Chiefs’ starter PJ Francescon (0-1, 3.48) and took it 377 ft for his second homerun of the week. The blast gave the Timber Rattlers an early 1-0 lead.

Rattlers’ starter Drew Gagnon (0-0, 2.00) would keep the lead alive into the 5th, striking out 6 in 4.2 innings of work, when with two outs in the 5th, Cheifs third baseman, Brad Zapenas, singled, stole his way to second, and eventually scored on left fielder Pin-Chieh Chen’s single to tie the game a 1-1. Gagnon would finish the game with a total of 7 Ks in 5 innings of work.

Not content to be tied for long, the Timber Rattlers opened up the bottom of the 6th inning with a solo homer from Chadwin Stang (also his second of the week) which put the team back out front 2-1. But the Rattlers weren’t done yet. Designated hitter Brandon Macias would follow the Stang homer with a single, advancing to 2nd on a wild pitch, and eventually scoring on a single from first baseman Parker Berberet to bring the score to 3-1.

The Chiefs tried to close the gap in the 8th inning when Zapenas drew a walk off of Rattlers reliever Tommy Toledo (1-0, 3.86), advanced to second on a wild pitch, and eventually scored on a single from catcher Rafael Lopez. The single would mark the end of Toledo’s night as the Rattlers would call on Seth Harvey (0.00) to pick up the save.

The Timber Rattlers would make Harvey’s job easier thanks to Stang drawing a walk to start off the bottom of the 8th. Stang would advance to 2nd on a Macias sacrifice bunt, and eventually score as a wild pitch would move him to third followed by a throwing error from the catcher, Lopez, which would plate him for the second time of the night and bring the score to 4-2.

Now, with a two run advantage, Harvey would work through the top of the 9th only giving up a single to Reggie Golden who collapsed in a heap as he touched 1st base. Zeke DeVoss would be brought in to pinch run, but would never be given an opportunity to advance.

The win brings the Rattlers record to 3-4, tied with Peoria, Kane County, and Beloit.

The Rattlers are back in action at Time Warner Cable Field tonight for game two of this four game series. Start time is 6:35 pm. The Timber Rattlers are scheduled to send Mark Williams (0-1, 4.50) to the mound while the Chiefs will counter with  Jose Rosario (0-0, 1.93).

Game at a glance:

Player of the game: Chadwin Stang: 1/1 – 2 runs – 1 hit (HR) – 1 RBI – 1 BB – .304

WP: Tommy Toledo (1-0)
LP: PJ Francescon (0-1)
Save: Seth Harvey (1)

Time: 2:34
Attendance: 740

Third Times a Charm: Timber Rattlers Walkoff to Win First Game of the Season

by Kevin Kimmes

On Saturday afternoon the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers faced off against the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the third and final game of their season opening homestand. The Timber Rattlers, who were 0-2 going into Saturday’s contest, put the ball in the hands of right hander Brandon Williamson, while the Kernels countered with lefty Ryan Crowley.

Not wasting any time, the Timber Rattlers struck first as center fielder Chadwin Stang recorded his first hit of the young season, a double, which led off the bottom of the 1st inning. Two batters later, Stang would reach home on a Jason Rogers double. Rogers, who was hitting in the designated hitter position on Saturday, would also steal third, but would find himself stranded as the next two hitters struck out.

The Kernels would answer with a run of their own in the top of the 3rd thanks to a solo homerun from shortstop Trevor Hairgrove, tying the game at one run a piece.

The Kernels would take the lead, 2-1, in the top of the 5th when center fielder Chevy Clarke singled, stole second, was advance to third on a grounder from catcher Carlos Lugo, and eventually scoring on a passed ball during Hairgrove’s at bat. The Rattlers answered back in the bottom of the 5th on a solo homer from Stang, tying the score at 2 a piece.

The 6th inning would see the Kernels create a run out of no hits as both third baseman Kaleb Cowart and designated hitter Frazier Hall drew walks. Cowart, who stole 2nd during Hall’s at bat, would be advanced to third on a fielder’s choice which removed Hall from the base paths, and placed first baseman Gary Mitchell at 1st. During Clarke’s at bat, Mitchell broke for 2nd, reaching easily as catcher Tyler Roberts’ throw got past second baseman Greg Hopkins, allowing Cowart to steal home ahead of the throw to the plate. This brought the score to 3-2 in favor of the Kernels.

The Rattlers answered back in the 7th when right fielder John Dishon drew a walk to start off the inning which allowed Stang to reach 1st on a fielder’s choice in the next at bat. A Hopkins grounder would advance Stang to second, and he would score off of a Roger’s RBI single to again tie the game, now at 3 a piece.

The 9th would see both teams slugging it out. The Kernels would manufacture 3 runs thanks to a Hairgrove RBI single that scored Clarke from third and a double from center fielder Ryan Jones which would score Hairgrove and second baseman Kevin Mosequit. The Kernels were now in the drivers seat with a lead of 6-3 with only 3 outs remaining, but it would not be enough to complete the series sweep.

With one out in the bottom of the 9th, Dishon walked, eventually scoring on a Stang RBI double bringing the score to 6-4. Hopkins and Rogers would both walk to load the bases, still with only one out. A single from left fielder Ben McMahan would score both Stang and Hopkins, and in the process, tie the game at 6 a piece.

First baseman Parker Berberet would bury the dagger with a walkoff single that scored Roger’s from third and gave the Timber Rattlers their first win of the 2012 season.

The Rattlers will return home to Time Warner Cable Field on Thursday April 12th as they take on Peoria. Game time is set for 6:35 pm.

Game at a Glance:

Player of the Game: Chadwin Stang – 3/4 with 2 doubles, 1 homerun and 2 RBIs

WP: Stephen Peterson (1-0)
LP: Logan Odom (0-1)

TIME: 3:05
ATTN: 1,192