Lights out, impressive, dominant. Choose your favorite adjective. They can all be used to describe what lefty Trevor Rogers is accomplishing this spring, solidifying himself as the Marlins’ fifth starter. One of the marquee positional battles coming in to spring training, with a week left, the 24-year-old lefty has made it virtually impossible for decision makers not to include his name on the Opening Day roster. In his first 19 spring innings, Trevor’s stuff has spoken for itself. In 13.1 IP, he’s racked up 19 Ks to just four walks. He has at least five strikeouts in each of his last three outings.
The last time we saw Trevor pitch in minor league games, the 6’6” 185 pound lefty was topping out at 94 with an average slider and the nascent beginnings of a changeup. He was also experimenting with a cutter (which he has since dropped) but overall, he lacked a true third pitch. Since then, Rogers has put on 20 athletic pounds. Don Mattingly commented earlier this spring on how striking the contrast in Rogers’ build was from the last time he saw him to when he saw him for the first time this spring.
“It looked like his neck really filled up,” he said. “You’re kind of taken aback by the appearance and the change.”
Rogers came by the added size via pretty simple meal planning: eating more fatty foods of the time while mixing in healthier stuff “here and there”.
“Just crushing calories any way I can,” he told the Miami Herald’s Jordan McPherson. “And it’s not always good calories.”
As unusual as that may seem for a professional athlete, it’s worked wonders for Trevor. The byproducts of his diet have been two-fold: up to three miles an hour of velo added to his fastball and more force behind his breaking pitches including his slider which he is gripping tighter and spinning better.
The most noticeable change in Rogers circa 2019 compared to this spring though has been the improvement of his changeup.
Rogers says he began getting a better feel for the pitch in 2020. He gained the ability to throw it for strikes frequently and started throwing it with added conviction. Like the slider, this spring, Rogers has begun putting more behind the changeup, transforming it into a whole different animal.
“I felt like I was hitting the fluency of it [last year]. I felt it was my second best pitch but I was less intense,” Rogers said. “I got more confident throwing it over the plate and added some intensity which gave it that late dive action. It’s really grown a lot over the last year or so from back when my confidence in it was at an all-time low.”
Over the course of the last year and a half, Rogers has managed to take loop out of the pitch in terms of its horizontal break and he’s added tons more vertical break. All in all, the pitch moves sharply from right to left before falling off the table. Previously with little to no break, the pitch now has two-plane action and Trevor’s high pitcher’s IQ allows him to mix with it advantageously.
Suddenly armed with higher heat and two plus breakers, Trevor Rogers has turned the corner and looks primed to go toe-to-toe with the rest of the National League’s top rookie starters. While that would surprise many in the national baseball world, we, along with others in the Marlins’ community, wouldn’t be surprised at all.