EDITOR'S NOTE: Conner Boyd is the latest in a line of several authors we're considering adding to the BCB roster. Check out his debut post below, then let us know what you think in the comments. - KL
Mark Rogers is arguably the most polarizing player in the entire Milwaukee Brewers' organization. Fans have loved him, hated him, forgotten about him, and it seems like most are finally starting to remember him.
The former first round draft pick was selected by the Brewers in 2004 as the fifth overall pick. The high school hurler was heralded as a future ace for the Brewers, and he had the scouting report to back up the hype. His mid-90s fastball has good movement, and he throws a good mix of breaking pitches, including a hard, biting slider in the mid-80s, a curveball in the upper-70s and a change-up in the low-80s.
By all accounts, he was Milwaukee's next ace.
Turns out, all accounts were wrong.
Another pitcher was drafted by the Crew in 2004... a name every fan has come to know and love. Yovani Gallardo, a somewhat unheralded pitcher heading into the draft, has since become the ace of the squad, while Rogers has had more than his fair share of problems.
All of Rogers' problems have been well-documented. Command and control issues on top of constant injuries hampered his progress and made him into a surefire bust.
Then he got his first break. A major league call-up in 2010 and a couple of impressive outings launched Rogers back into the spotlight. He was unanimously declared the top prospect in the Brewers' system heading into the 2011 season.
And... well... things didn't go well. Rogers lost all control of his pitches and fought injuries all season long, being demoted all the way to rookie league ball. His 2011 minor league campaign resulted in 44.1 innings, a 9.34 ERA, an appalling 8.5 BB/9, and concluded with a 25 game suspension for having a banned substance in his body. Entering 2012, Rogers went from being the head honcho to being an afterthought.
Rogers seems to have found a second... or third, fourth, or fifth life. There's no telling anymore, as much as he's had to face. He proved to Brewers fans that he can still be a good pitcher in the majors if he's given the chance. He got another major league call-up in 2012, started in seven games, pitched in 39 innings while striking out 41, posted a respectable BB/9 of 3.2, and had a solid ERA of 3.92.
Where does that leave Rogers heading into the 2013 season? Opinions and views are widely varied.
Many think he'll start the year as the fifth starter, or at the very least in the bullpen. Many believe he'll start out in the minors but eventually be promoted. Many believe, even after his good season, that he's destined for another hard fall into minor league mediocrity.
My guess? Bullpen. I think the Brewers respect his potential as a pitcher enough to want him on the major league squad, and they value the hard work he's put in. Placing him in the bullpen will not place too much strain on a fragile arm, and he could serve as the back-up starter in a rotation with a ton of questions.
He could start the year in the AAA rotation to get him starter minutes in order to continue to groom him to start, but make no mistake... Rogers is in line to enter spring training to compete for a spot in the major league rotation.
Has Rogers finally arrived as the uber-talented prospect he was supposed to be when drafted? Is it finally time for Milwaukee to see their supposed ace-in-the-making become an ace?
Only time will tell. But Rogers made a great impression last season, and it's time for fans to take him seriously again.