Being a BOI (born on the island) of Galveston, and growing up on the Texas coast, can lead a kid into many different sports. From the traditional sports to the more extreme sports of skateboarding, surfing, or other water sports. But one Galvestonian, Chad Rogers, capitalized on his talent and love of baseball and has turned it into a career in multiple ways. From being drafted out of Galveston College, to six years playing professional baseball, to now opening his own baseball training camp and instruction, Chad has used his passion to his advantage. Though he never played in the Astros system, Chad grew up an Astros fan.
First, I will give you a quick run down of his experience. Chad was drafted in the 28th round of the 2010 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He started out in A ball in 2011 and posted a 2.99 ERA over 69.1 innings with 72 K. The next season, he played between A+ and AA and finished with a 2.90 ERA in 143.0 IP including a 1.99 ERA in 31.2 AA innings. He continued his rise in the minors making it to AAA in 2013 and finished that season with a 3.21 ERA. He was eventually moved to relief where he pitched in AAA for another three seasons and was traded to the Braves in 2016 when he decided to retire.
I was able to get with Chad and ask him questions about his baseball journey. Let’s dive in!
Astros Future (AF): So coming from Galveston you were an Astros fan. What is one of your favorite memories of the Astros when you were growing up?
Chad Rogers (CR): “I remember driving back from South Padre with my family back in 2005 when the Astros played the Braves in the NLDS, I was 15 at the time. They played 18 innings and we listened to it the whole way back, 6hrs. I wish I could’ve watched, but there was something special about listening to it on the radio. It made me want to be a part of a game like that.”
AF: Did you end up pitching against any Astros minor leaguers while you were playing?
CR: “I never pitched against an Astros affiliate, but I did play with George Springer in the 2012 High A all star game, California vs Carolina league in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Dusty Baker was also the manager of the Reds when I went to my first big league spring training. He’s a great players manager, we got a steal getting him after Hinch was let go.”
AF: What was your feeling when the Astros finally captured a World Series title in 2017?
CR: “I couldn’t believe it! After the World Series in 2005, I was just praying for a good series against the Dodgers. I had a buddy (Tony Cingrani) who was a reliever with the Dodgers at the time. He was nice enough to get my wife and I tickets, so that made it even more special.”
AF: Being a Galveston native, and being drafted out of Galveston College has to be pretty cool right? Like a chance to rep your hometown?
CR: “It was a dream come true! We have a lot of talented athletes that come out of Galveston and I’m blessed to be a part of that group.”
AF: So I don’t think many people truly understand the grind that a minor league player goes through. Can you just kind of breakdown the life of a minor leaguer in season?
CR: “When they say you live out of a suitcase, they mean it. You’re always on the road, taking long bus trips, getting into hotels at 3-4 am and you’re expected to perform at a high level after. On top of that, taking care of your nutrition was extremely hard. We would get done with most games around 10:30 pm and if the clubby put out pizza, you either ate that, made food at your apartment or tried to find a place that was open late. At the end of a minor league season you were mentally/physically worn down and financially broke, unless you had a big signing bonus or big league time.”
AF: What is one aspect of minor league baseball that is most likely overlooked by the general public?
CR: “How much time and effort we put into our craft. A lot of ups and downs that either mentally break you or make you stronger. It’s tough failing in front of 10k plus people.”
AF: Did you have any crazy experiences with host families? I’m sure most were good to you, but just wondering how it was most of the time.
CR: “I was blessed to have some great host families. Every single one treated me like family and I still talk to them on occasion.”
AF: What is one of your most memorable moments from playing professional baseball?
CR: “My first year in AAA, I was 23 yrs old and got to start a game against Scranton Rail Riders, the Yankees AAA affiliate. Alex Rodriguez was on his last game of his comeback from the steroid suspension. I remember watching him throughout my childhood and the fact that I got to face him was surreal. Plus, I punched him out in his 3rd at bat which is always cool story to tell.”
AF: Out of all the players you have faced in the minors, who do you think was the best hitter? And who do you think was maybe the most overrated hitter?
CR: “The absolute best hitter I faced hands down was Christian Yelich, extremely balanced and patient. I don’t think he took a bad swing off of me. The most overrated was probably Gary Sanchez. I heard a lot of hype surrounding his name and he couldn’t hit a fastball up and in to save his life.”
AF: With COVID-19 forcing the MiLB to cancel the 2020 season, what kind of impact do you think this will have on the development or prospects who miss a year of playing?
CR: “It’s going to be huge! You gain so much experience in one season as a young player. The maturation process will be delayed for a lot of prospects and for some it will cost them their careers.”
AF: You played in the minors for six seasons. Do you think you still had something left or did you just feel it was the right time to walk away?
CR: “After all of the injuries and the rehabs I was physically and mentally spent. I knew I was good enough to play in the MLB and had my chance in 2014 when I was on the 40 man roster. I had a SLAP tear in my labrum a little over a month into the season and that shut me down for the majority of that year. 2015 I planned on having a strong year, but tore my meniscus and MCL trying to make a play at 1B on a bunt. Needless to say that shut me down for the whole year. 2016, I was pitching really well and partially tore my bicep tendon toward the end of July. After all of that, I decided it was time to hang the cleats up and go back to the real world.”
AF: Now that you aren’t playing, you have started your own baseball training camp and instruction called The Baseball Bunker in Galveston. Tell the readers a little about your program
CR: “I went back to school once I got done playing and got my kinesiology degree from UHCL. While I was going to school, I trained kids and coached select baseball for the PBA Stars out of Dickinson. I ended up developing a lot of clients from training and everyone of them asked about a possible training facility because we’ve never had one in Galveston. One thing led to another and I found a great place off of 85th st. right next to the baseball fields. I have 2 big cages and a full gym. We run anything from baseball training to strength, speed and agility work. I wanted to give back to the island somehow and now I get to do what I love while making kids better players and young men.”
AF: Where can people find you at to get more info on the camp?
CR: “They can follow me on Instagram @thebaseballbunker to find out news on camps and other things that we offer.”
Thanks again to Chad for taking time out of his day to tell us about his baseball journey. Please hit him up if you or someone else you know needs any kind of baseball training!