Phillies' No. 6 prospect shows potential in start to minor league season
The Philadelphia Phillies have had some pitching prospects make news lately. The club has not had many offensive players make significant strides despite having some raw talent with potential in the minor league system. Outfield prospect, Johan Rojas could change that if his bat stays hot and continues offensive growth.
Rojas was signed as a free agent by the Phillies in January 2018 as a 17-year-old outfield prospect. He was mainly known for his speed. At such a young age, the Phillies took a chance on trying to develop the Dominican-born teenager into a formidable prospect. It took a bit of time, but things may finally be paying off— both for Rojas and the Phillies.
Rojas' greatest strength is his speed. Across two levels of the minors in 2022, Rojas stole 62 bases in 67 attempts. He also had 13 stolen bases in 12 games in the Arizona Fall League. The speed translates into the field too. He is an above average defender as he can track down and get to most fly balls. His arm is also an asset on the defensive side of his game. Rojas is graded as an above average throwing outfielder to pair with his speed.
While on the base paths and in the outfield Rojas may be progressing nicely, he is still raw on the offensive side of the plate. The biggest area of concern in Rojas' development has been his ability to hit consistently. He has always been able to hit the ball on the ground and beat throws to first base. The Phillies would like to see him make harder contact and hit more line drives and balls into the gaps, especially with his speed on the bases.
So far in 36 at-bats this season, Rojas is slashing .278/.350/.389. The average and on-base percentage are not bad, but the slugging percentage leaves room for improvement. He has just two extra-base hits so far this season— one home run and one double. Rojas is not projected to be a major power hitter, but those numbers are low for a Major League prospect.
Phillies prospect Johan Rojas has been on a tear recently at Double-A Reading.
As of late, Rojas has shown that he has the ability to hit. In Reading's most recent series against the Hartford Yard Goats, Rojas went 10-24 with four RBI and a home run. Rojas was also able to cut back on strikeouts in the most recent series. In the first series of the season, Rojas struck out seven times in twelve at-bats. In the Hartford series, Rojas struck out just twice in 24 at-bats.
As of right now, Rojas is blocked in the outfield at the Major League level. With Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh, Nick Castellanos, and eventually Bryce Harper back in the mix, there is no room in the Phillies outfield for Rojas to grow as a player. Luckily, Rojas still needs time to develop in the minors and should be given time to do just that without the club feeling the need to rush his development.
Rojas is just 22 years-old, and while he could probably play defense in the Major Leagues right now, his bat is still not polished enough. As he works through another season in the minors, the Phillies will look to see that his hitting ability improves. It is important to note that he is a right-handed bat. In the event of an injury or a need for a left/right-handed platoon, Rojas may be able to see time in the big leagues soon if he can continue to improve with the bat.