The Nationals made a small, yet not totally insignificant move Friday in an effort to replenish their minor league pitching depth. The organization signed left-hander Josh Rogers to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Rochester.
The Red Wings announced the signing Friday afternoon.
Rogers was released by the Orioles on Monday after four appearances (two starts) with Triple-A Norfolk. He went 0-3 with a 7.79 ERA, 1.558 WHIP and 4.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his short time this season with the Tides.
In limited major league action in 2018 and 2019, Rogers collectively went 1-3 with an 8.65 ERA over eight appearances, three of which were starts.
The 26-year-old was an 11th-round draft pick by the Yankees in 2015 and then was sent to the Orioles in 2018 as a part of the Zack Britton trade.
Rogers becomes another former Tommy John arm the Nationals hope they can turn into a suitable pitcher. He underwent the procedure when he was in high school and then had another elbow surgery in July 2019. The second procedure was called an ulnar collateral ligament “revision,” a follow-up to his Tommy John surgery.
Don’t forget that general manager Mike Rizzo isn’t afraid to take chances on Tommy John guys, even ones who have had the surgery twice. The Nationals training staff has a track record of taking those types of pitchers and turning them into contributors. But of course, Rogers did not pitch in 2020 while recovering from his second surgery and due to the cancellation of the minor league season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a surgery that we see a lot of guys bouncing back from,” manager Davey Martinez said during his Friday pregame Zoom session with reporters. “In this day and age, you’re really not afraid of those guys. So his velo, you know, is starting to get up there a little bit more, so we’re interested to get him out there, get him stretched out there and see what he does.”
Rogers joins a Nationals minor league system that is in need of some depth at the higher levels. While the Nationals are excited for the futures of their top three prospects - right-handers Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge and Cole Henry - they are all currently pitching at high Single-A Wilmington and don’t figure to make their major league debuts for another year or two.
The Nationals’ highest ranked pitching prospect at Triple-A is No. 18 Seth Romero, who is currently rehabbing an rib injury at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach and only recently resumed throwing. The next highest ranked Triple-A pitching prospects are left-hander Ben Braymer (No. 21) and right-hander Steven Fuentes (No. 22).
Not saying Rogers immediately cracks MLB Pipeline’s top 10 Nats prospect rankings, but he certainly adds to an area where the Nationals lack depth at the Triple-A level.
“We try to look for not only depth, but also try to get some more left-handed pitching,” Martinez said. “So he was available. We like some of the stuff that he brings with him, so he’s going to start in Rochester and see what he does.”