“It feels pretty good to be named Player of the Year,” said the Gordon Lee Middle School eighth grader. “I feel like my work has paid off.”
Playing first base and some outfield for the Georgia Bandits out of Ringgold, Rogers had 91 total hits in 200 at bats in 80 games during the 2012 season for a batting average of .465 and an .830 slugging percentage.
The left-handed clean-up hitter collected 15 doubles, three triples and a team-leading 19 home runs while driving in 79 runs. He walked 47 times against just 19 strikeouts and finished the season with nine stolen bases.
Rogers says he devotes at least an hour a day, generally six days a week during the season, to hone his swing.
“I’m taking a bit of a break now because I played fall baseball,” he explained, “but usually during the summer, I’m out there almost every day. I like hitting better. It’s more fun.”
Rogers says he admires the swings and baseball stylings of two more lefties, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton.
“I really look up to (Hamilton),” he added. “He has a lot of bat speed, and huge forearms that really help him power through the ball. Plus, he’s left-handed like me. A lot of people tell me our swings look similar.”
But as valuable as he was at the plate, he may have been even more important to the Bandits on the mound.
With injuries taking its toll on three of the team’s top pitchers, Rogers assumed the No. 1 starter’s role and went 15-2 against some of the nation’s top-ranked 13u teams, including eight of the Top 25. He threw a team-high 75 innings, walking 38 and striking out 104 with a 2.85 ERA.
He was the winning pitcher in the TravelBallSelect 13u national championship game, holding powerful-hitting Team Florida scoreless until the last inning before claiming a 7-3 win. He also got a save in a 5-3 win over the South Florida Giants in the title game of the USSSA Elite 32 at the Walt Disney World Complex.
In addition, Rogers and the Bandits won the Atlanta Super NIT and the Gulf Shores Super NIT, while they finished third in the Perfect Game tournament.
Rogers is a three-sport star at Gordon Lee Middle School. He was an All-League pick in football and is having a solid season on the basketball court for the Trojans this winter. He is also looking forward to the spring, where Gordon Lee is aiming for a fourth consecutive NGAC baseball title.
He also hopes bigger things are in store for him in high school and farther on down the road in his baseball career.
“I’d like to go play in college, but I mean, everyone would like to go all the way (to the pros),” he said. “If I ever get a shot at that, I’ll probably go.”
He credits his grandfather Dennis Lemming, and Bandits’ coach Troy Roberson, for their support and help in getting him to where he is today.
Rogers was one of two local Bandits players up for 13u Player of the Year. Teammate Tucker Bradley was also nominated, marking the first time in TBS history two players from the same team were up for the award.
Bradley, the 12u Player of the Year last year, fought through an arm injury to hit .536 with 15 homers and 103 RBIs while stealing 21 bases in 70 games. He went 6-1 in 35 limited innings on the hill, fanning 57 and walking eight with a 1.76 ERA.
The Bandits finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in their age division for the third year in a row.