Baseball: Southpaw Rogers has bright future

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 5, 2020

By Mike London

SALISBURY — It’s been a good summer for Logan Rogers, but also a weird one.

He’s performing exceptionally well for the Rowan County NC3 baseball team at basically empty Newman Park, where the 25-person crowd always includes one of his parents.

“They take turns,” Rogers said. “One of them gets off work and comes to the game. I’m making new friends with teammates from other schools, I’m getting great coaching, and Newman Park is a nice place to play. Even though we can’t have fans in the park right now, it’s still been enjoyable just to get back on the field and play some baseball.”

Rogers, one of those unusual folks who throws left-handed and bats right-handed, is a two-way player. He’s best known for his pitching, but he’s also got some power at the plate and owns a good glove at first base. Rowan has employed three first sackers during an 8-1 start — Rogers, his Carson rising senior teammate Jake Harris and West Rowan youngster Casey Gouge.

“My right arm is actually stronger than my left,” Rogers said. “But I do most things left-handed. I eat left-handed.”

Rogers has come through with key hits with men on base, including a bases-clearing blow against Lexington-Davidson and a two-run double against Mount Airy.

“The bases were loaded about every time I came up against Lexington,” Rogers said. “That can be tough as far as pressure, but it’s a chance to drive in runs and help the team. I think about RBIs, but I don’t worry about batting average. It’s all about getting runs in.”

On the mound is where Rogers has a chance to be something special in years to come.

He’s been lights-out in his first three appearances this summer —  two wins, no hits, two walks and nine strikeouts in six innings. You can’t do much better than that.

“He’s quiet, but he’s very focused,” Rowan County NC3 head coach Jim Gantt said. “He’s got a good arm and he has a chance to be really effective on the mound. There’s also some potential there as a hitter and first baseman. He’s been a great surprise for us this summer. His best baseball is ahead of him.”

Like the rest of his NC3 teammates in the class of 2020, Rogers (5-11, 195) had eagerly anticipated his senior baseball season for a long time. This was going to be his time to shine for the Carson Cougars, after years of playing a role.

He was talented enough that he actually played a handful of varsity games as a freshman for coach Chris Cauble in 2017.

“Well, the varsity was struggling at the plate for a while,”  Rogers said. “I think Coach Cauble brought me up as an example to everyone that no one’s job was safe if they didn’t start hitting. I got into a few games, and it was a good experience just being in the dugout with those guys.”

As a sophomore on a 24-6 team that included Gatorade State Player of the Year Owen White, Rogers pitched in six games, got his first varsity win and drove in five runs at the plate.

He was one of Carson’s better hitters as a junior in 2019 — 28 hits, .311 batting average, 22 RBIs, seven doubles and a two-run homer that beat Central Cabarrus, 2-0. Carson went 27-5 with Cole Hales and Deacon Wike doing most of the pitching. Rogers pitched in nine games, mostly short stints, and was 1-0 with 17 strikeouts in 13 innings. He flashed his potential when he struck out six East Rowan Mustangs in five innings.

“Logan always was a team person who was willing to do whatever it took and play wherever he was needed for the team to be successful,” Cauble said. “He got better every year. I expect awesome things from him,”

Rogers’ senior year promised bigger and better things, maybe even awesome things. For the first time, he was going to be one of the two main hurlers for Carson as well as a middle-of-the-lineup bat.

He was 1-1 on the mound and was batting .471 (8-for-17) when Carson’s season was abruptly halted by COVID-19 concerns after six games.

“You wait for that senior year, when you’re finally going to be at the top of the ranks,” Rogers said. “The 2020 season was going to be my season, and I was looking forward not only to doing well and pitching a lot, but helping out our younger guys with all the things that I had learned.”

Rogers also spent time helping out Carson’s younger guys on the football field. He’s strong, a weight-room warrior, and he was one of Carson’s top performers as a senior linebacker. He made 111 tackles, with 12 tackles for loss and two sacks. He was named to the All-North Piedmont Conference team.

Rogers missed one game with an ankle injury. That was the 53-30 loss to East Rowan. The Mustangs rushed for 535 yards.

“East had talented backs and we saw that night how valuable Logan was to our football team,” Carson head football coach Daniel Crosby said. “He’s a hard-nosed guy who was a leader by example on the field and in the weight room. We’re going to miss his leadership.”

Rogers will miss football. But that football mentality helps him compete in tough situations on the baseball field.

“I know my future is in baseball, but I will miss it,” Rogers said. “Football is different. It’s exciting. It’s so emotional.”

Even with a very limited senior baseball season, Rogers had offers from Division II schools and junior colleges.

He chose to sign with Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, where former Carson and Rowan Legion player Clayton Gilmore was part of the team. That’s a strong, two-year program that has been nationally ranked many times. Sixteen Southeastern players have gotten a chance in pro ball as draft picks or free-agent signees and 45 have gone on to play at the D-I level.

“I liked what the Southeastern coach had to say when he was recruiting me,” Rogers said. “I’m going there as a two-way player and I would love to play all the time, but I realize my strong point is probably pitching,” Rogers said. “It will all depend on how much I can develop as a pitcher.”

He’s already developed some this summer, in two weeks of practice and a few weeks of games. He’s confident of that.

Rogers had high school coaching that’s well above normal, but Gantt always adds something to a pitcher’s bag of tricks. Rowan pitchers excel in facets of pitching beyond throwing the ball to the plate — holding runners close, pickoff moves, fielding the position. Those little things decide a lot of games.

“I’m amazed by what I thought I knew, but really didn’t know until this summer,” Rogers said. “Coach Gantt is a great coach, and there’s no getting around that. I believe if I’d played American Legion ball for him the past few summers, I would have developed faster.”

Rogers played in 2018 and 2019 for the Charlotte Megastars showcase program. He had some success with the Megastars in tournaments and got experience as an outfielder, as well as a pitcher.

Now he’s one of 10 Carson Cougars or Carson graduates on the roster of Rowan’s 23-man NC3 baseball team.

Rogers is a believer in the theory that the best pitch is always the well-located fastball. That’s what he’s relied on. Rogers doesn’t have scintillating heat, his fastball is around 82 miles per hour, but he’s spotted pitches so well— in and out, up and down — that he’s gotten a parade of strikeouts and weak contact.

“I’ve thrown four changeups and two curveballs in three outings,” Rogers said. “The fastball has been good. It’s been getting the results that we want.”