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Rogers continues strong offseason in Saguaros' win

Division II product goes 3-for-4, helps Surprise extend big division lead

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Jason Rogers has had a long journey to reach the Arizona Fall League. The Brewers selected him out of Division II Columbus State in the 32nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and, unlike many of his teammates in the AFL, he has never been a highly touted prospect.

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But after making the slow climb to Double-A Huntsville, where he hit 22 home runs this season, Rogers had done enough to convince the Brewers to send him to the AFL. He has more than held his own there, hitting .348 with a 1.008 OPS.

For Rogers, the key to overcoming his Draft status to succeed in baseball's premier offseason league is simple.

"Just by taking it day by day," Rogers said. "I know what I can do. I've got to work harder because I was a 32nd-round pick. But I know I can play with all these guys."

Rogers had another multihit game Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with a double in Surprise's 4-2 victory against Glendale at Surprise Stadium. The Saguaros' second win in as many days against the Desert Dogs lowered their magic number to clinch the West Division to four with eight games to play.

Rogers' successful fall is just a continuation of what he started in Hunstville. He hit .270 with a .468 slugging percentage and more than doubled his career home run total.

"The biggest thing was getting in better shape this year, just staying healthy," Rogers said. "I've had problems with that in the past."

After the Desert Dogs took an early 2-0 lead Tuesday, Rogers drove in the Saguaros' first run with a two-out single in the third inning. Ryan Rua tied the game an inning later with a home run.

Rogers helped create Surprise's go-ahead run in the fifth. After Travis Shaw reached first on a passed ball to lead off the inning, Rogers doubled, advancing Shaw to third base. Tony Wolters, the Indians' No. 11 prospect, followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Saguaros the lead. Shaw hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to tack on an insurance run.

Shaw finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk. His five home runs are the second most in the AFL. Tyler Naquin, the Indians' No. 5 prospect, added two more hits, pushing his league-leading total to 32 hits in 20 games.

After scoring two early runs against left-hander Will Lamb, the Desert Dogs were shut out by the Saguaros' bullpen. Five relievers combined to limit them to two hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Brent Keys scored both of the Desert Dogs' runs. He hit a home run, his first of the fall, in the first inning and added to the Desert Dogs' lead in the third inning. The Marlins' No. 17 prospect finished the game 1-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base.

Though there are only eight games left in the AFL season, Rogers won't be beginning his offseason anytime soon. After the AFL, the Brewers are sending him to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball and get practice as a third baseman. Rogers said the Brewers want to make him as versatile a player as possible. He has played mostly left field in the AFL after spending this season as a first baseman. He last played third base when he was in college.

In the meantime, though, Rogers wants to make sure he plays well down the stretch of what has already been a strong fall.

"Just to keep doing what we're doing," Rogers said. "Don't give away at-bats and hopefully make it to the championship and go from there."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.

Glendale Desert Dogs, Surprise Saguaros, Brent Keys, Tyler Naquin, Jason Rogers, Tony Wolters