Phillies' Rojas quick to show off speed in AFL

October 6th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Johan Rojas might be the fastest player in the Arizona Fall League. And he has wasted no time showing off his speed. 

On Opening Day, Rojas stole a base and raced to make a stunning diving catch in the gap to rob megaprospect Jordan Walker (Cardinals) of at least a double. On Wednesday, he sparked the Surprise Saguaros to a 6-5 victory over the Glendale Desert Dogs by setting the tone atop the lineup. 

Rojas snapped a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the third with a routine RBI single to center field -- but he never stopped running and turned his hit into a hustle double. He also started a two-run outburst in the fifth with a perfect bunt that died down the third-base line. 

"When I was young, I figured out that I was fast," Rojas said through translator Ruben Gotay, a coach for the Saguaros and in the Pirates system. "I decided it was my skill and I wanted to show it on the field. 

"When I get to the field, I want to help my team win. I'm always going to give 100 percent and no one is going to get a base hit when I'm playing in center field. I'm going to keep playing that way." 

Signed for just $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, Rojas has plus-plus speed and finished eighth in the Minors this season with 62 steals in 67 attempts. He also batted .244/.309/.354 with seven homers in 130 games, so his offensive game is still a work in progress. 

Rojas doesn't strike out excessively and has plus raw power, but he makes too much groundball contact to take advantage of it. In his first three games with Surprise, he has gone 5-for-13 (.385) with a double. 

Catcher Henry Davis (Pirates), the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, and third baseman Will Wagner, the son of former All-Star closer Billy Wagner, drove in two runs each for the Saguaros. Glendale managed just four hits, two by shortstop Matt McLain (Reds). Desert Dogs catcher Jeferson Quero (Brewers) impressed with his arm strength behind the plate, throwing out three of the four basestealers who tested him.