Rojas earns 2nd Clemente Award nomination

Mattingly: 'Really, you can't say there's a better guy for us than Miggy'

September 16th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- "It's more important to be a good person than a good player."

That is the adage Marlins shortstop lives by. For the second straight year, he was named the club's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. Baseball’s most prestigious individual honor annually recognizes a Major League player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. It's fitting, because Rojas tries to emulate the Puerto-Rican-born Hall of Famer's life and legacy.

"A lot of legends will tell you that baseball is not going to be there forever," Rojas said. "At some point, you're going to stop being a baseball player. Then is when I realized that you have to impact some lives more than just on the baseball field. And for me, that's what is important. You have to be a good person, so you can be remembered as 'Miguel Rojas the human being, the person,' instead of just the shortstop, because so many other shortstops are going to come and going to go."

Fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award through the end of the regular season on Oct. 3. The winner of the fan vote will count as one vote among those cast by a blue-ribbon panel that will select the winner.

Rojas, who was born in Los Teques, Venezuela, which is 35 minutes from the capital city of Caracas, has the unrivaled mix of an upbeat personality, competitive spirit and underdog mentality. Over the years, he has taken part in the Miami Marlins Foundation's community service events, such as holiday food and gift distributions as well as school visits. Rojas takes pride in making an impact on people from all over the world who now call South Florida home -- just like he does.

The 2021 season marked Rojas' seventh with the Marlins, and he has evolved into the player and person that he is today thanks to that journey. As a 25-year-old with the Dodgers in 2014, Rojas was a utility player known for his glove. Now, he's one of the Marlins' most consistent bats as well as one of the game's top fielders. Manager Don Mattingly has had a perfect view of that progression, dating back to their overlapping time in Los Angeles.

"I just think Miggy kind of exemplifies the award: character, talent, is good in the community, cares about people, good teammate," he said. "Really, you can't say there's a better guy for us than Miggy. He's shown a commitment to the organization, been here as we've kind of struggled to move forward and has been on-board with all that. He kind of exemplifies the award, so it's great to have Miggy."

Even though in-person events were eliminated in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rojas joined the Marlins' Mother’s Day efforts by surprising a young mom, who also serves as a frontline hero, with a meal. He offered tickets to the family as well as on-field access so that he could play catch with her son.

Earlier this year, as the community dealt with the tragedy in Surfside, Rojas and Mattingly visited the on-site memorial, and Rojas hosted a young boy and girl who lost their father. The brother and sister watched batting practice, received gifts from the team and caught the game from a suite at loanDepot park.

On Thursday, Rojas was expected to attend an event spotlighting local artists who will create custom-branded Budweiser merch in the Wynwood neighborhood. Rojas worked personally with them to tell his story through art.

Rojas, who wore Clemente's No. 21 for Wednesday's 8-6 victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park, collected a pair of run-scoring hits in the win. He will be presented with his award on Friday before the club's home game against the Pirates.

"I think Miggy is the whole package," said general manager Kim Ng. "He really is. He really does embody all the things that we look for in a player to represent the organization, to represent the sport. I think as a player, he's incredibly solid, and that coming from me is a great compliment. You just get to watch him on an everyday basis, and you understand very quickly what he brings to the table. And it's not just about making the tough plays.

"It's about the consistency that he brings, it's about the mindset. It's about talking to the younger players, and there's just a lot of facets to it that go beyond the field."