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BROTHERS IN ARMS

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Twins Tyler and Taylor Rogers making their pitch in the minor leagues

By Michael Hicks

The life of a minor league baseball player isn’t always glamorous. There is a lot of bus time, roadside motels and catering tables serving up lunch meat and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After the game, dinner, in all likelihood, is leftover concession stand food, and then you do it all over again the next day.

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One’s apartment may have the bare essentials — an air mattress, suitcase, basic furniture and no air conditioning. But it’s the life that twin brothers Taylor and Tyler Rogers share, be it thousands of miles apart.

The 23-year-old Chatfield Senior High graduates are making do one day at a time as they chase the dream — Taylor with the Minnesota Twins after being an 11th-round selection in the 2012 MLB Draft, and Tyler with the San Francisco Giants after being chosen in the 10th round a year later. It’s a trying process — one that challenges the mind as to whether or not there is an end goal in sight.

“You try to have a mind-set of day by day, and be positive about the future,” said Taylor, a starter for the Double-A New Britain (Conn.) Rock Cats. He spent the previous two years in the lower levels, including 2013 in Class A, where he was a Florida State League All-Star at Fort Myers. He also pitched in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where in 2013, along with his time in Fort Myers, he was a combined 11-7 with a 2.88 earned-run average. “Some days I feel extremely close, and then some days I feel pretty far away.”

It is in those moments of despair when all Taylor needs to reflect on is the Eastern League Double-A All-Star Game. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound left-hander not only pitched for the East team, he was the second hurler in the game. He pitched a scoreless second inning, striking out one. That’s when he realizes just how cool that experience was and how he’s moving up the ladder.

Tyler, despite being drafted a year later by the San Francisco Giants, isn’t that far behind. The right-hander with a submarine-style delivery started 2014 with the Class A Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets, but he made just nine appearances before moving up to the High-A San Jose (Calif.) Giants.

He knows there are things he can control, such as how he pitches, and things that he can’t, but Tyler doesn’t put too much stock in that. He’s just happy where he is right now.

“I’ve loved every minute of it, that’s for sure. It’s pretty cool,” said the 6-foot-5, 187-pound reliever who attended Austin Peay State University after a stint at Garden City Community College. He was 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 20 games in 2013 between the Giants’ rookie team in Arizona and the Low-A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. “I can keep playing baseball, but you can definitely tell the difference between college baseball and professional baseball. At each level, the hitters, the defense and the game is just better. It’s an adjustment period each time you move up.”

Taylor, a three-year starter at the University of Kentucky, agreed.

“It’s a lot different than college,” Taylor said. “You improve on one thing at a time at each level. At each there is a different obstacle before you move on to the next one.”

Whereas Taylor has found his niche in a starting role, Tyler found his comfort zone in his freshman year at Garden City Community College. That’s when he discovered the submarine-style delivery that has become his bread and butter.

“I was kind of struggling, and I gave it a shot one day and it felt natural. I ended up liking it. That was four years ago, and I don’t know how it happened,” Tyler said.

He’s just happy it did, because it was the catalyst for getting where he is today.

Even with all their travels of late, Taylor and Tyler have not forgotten where they came from. They recognize that Littleton is still home, their family still lives here, and they return every fall, lending help to Chatfield Senior High School’s baseball coaches whenever they get a chance.

“It’s fun going back,” Tyler said. “I like getting back, and I’m looking forward to it.”

For now, though, Taylor and Tyler Rogers continue their quest. And, for their sake, hopefully soon they’ll get the call. Most likely, though, the next stop in the progression is Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.) for Taylor and Double-A Richmond (Va.) for Tyler. That, however, depends on if there’s a spot. Higher up the ladder, it becomes a numbers game. All they can do is be ready to take advantage of the opportunities. Thus far they have.

“I’d say overall it has been a success so far. I don’t think it cannot be a success,” Taylor said.

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.

BIO BOXES
NAME: Taylor Allen Rogers
TEAM: New Britain Rock Cats
AFFILIATE: Double-A club of the Minnesota Twins
POSITION: Starting pitcher
BIRTHDATE: Dec. 17, 1990
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-foot-3, 175 pounds
DRAFTED: In the 11th round — 340th selection overall — by the Minnesota Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft. He previously pitched at the University of Kentucky.
BATS/THROWS: Left-handed/left-handed
2014 STATISTICS (WITH NEW BRITAIN): 8-6; 3.92 ERA; 19 games — all starts; 1 complete game; 117.0 innings pitched; 61 runs; 51 earned runs; 4 HR; 27 walks; 86 strikeouts; 1.34 WHIP; leads the team in strikeouts and is second in innings pitched.

NAME: Tyler Scott Rogers
TEAM: San Jose Giants
AFFILIATE: Single-A club of the San Francisco Giants
POSITION: Relief pitcher
BIRTHDATE: Dec. 17, 1990
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-foot-5, 187 pounds
DRAFTED: In the 10th round — 312th selection overall — by the San Francisco Giants in the 2013 MLB Draft. He previously pitched at Austin Peay State University and Garden City Community College.
BATS/THROWS: Right-handed/right-handed
2014 STATISTICS (WITH SAN JOSE): 4-0, 2.43 ERA, 37 games — all relief appearances; 55.2 innings pitched; 16 runs; 15 earned runs; 19 walks; 56 strikeouts; 1.22 WHIP; 5 holds; 12 games finished