By Jackson White
-- Taylor Rogers name is probably familiar to most baseball fans. This is for good reason, Rogers has established himself as a dominant reliever in the big leagues with the Minnesota Twins. What many don’t know, however, is where it all began. Rogers is a proud former Midland Redskin, which started way before his days as the dominant closer many fans know him now to be. Rogers was able to sit down and ‘catch up’ with the Midland program and family.
Rogers grew up in Littleton, Colorado. Colorado, with it’s known cold weather, has not been known as a big hotspot for big-time baseball talent. However, Rogers is a big exception to this. He was able to talk about his high school playing days, and took us back to where it all started for him.
“I’m from Littleton, Colorado. I went to Chatfield High School, and while I was there I played some basketball along with playing baseball. My whole plan originally growing up was to be a firefighter. That was what my dad did, I would have been fifth generation, so that was really my entire plan growing up, and I guess I ended up being OK in baseball, so I had to leave being a firefighter behind, and use that as plan B if baseball ever didn’t work out for me,” Rogers said.
Rogers, a proud alum of the Midland program, was able to discuss the impact Midland had on him as a teenager, not only as a baseball player, but as a person as well.
“Going out there was really foreign to me. In Colorado, we didn’t have anything that compared close to Midland, we would just play through high school and that would really be it. Getting out there was a drastically different experience for me. It was really the first time I had ever left home in general. Midland helped me prepare for college, but the level of baseball was just entirely new to me, and playing guys from other states and stuff was new, and I really think that prepared me for the next level,” Rogers said.
“Dave and Vicki [Evans] were so good to me as my host family. Conrad Gregor was my teammate who stayed with me there, and it honestly could not have gone any better,” Rogers added.
Rogers opened about the founder of Midland, Mr. Joe Hayden, and he talked about what he remembered from the guy who began this all under his watch.
“You know for me, he was kind of the silent guy in the shadows that I kind of secretly was afraid of at first, but once I was able to talk to him, I really realized how much of a nice guy he was, and I realized back then how many lives he impacted, and when I would think about that I would think ‘wow, there really aren’t a lot of people on this planet who did as much for people as he did’ so I think that’s pretty cool to see how many people walking this earth right now that Papa Joe impacted,” Rogers said.
Rogers shares a scared place in baseball history as he is one of the 10 pair of twin brothers who have gotten to say they have played on a big-league field before. Rogers was able to discuss his relationship with his twin brother, Tyler, who has also burst onto the MLB scene as a dominant reliever, and what kind of bond the game of baseball has formed between the two of them.
“I don’t think my vocabulary is big enough to describe how cool of a situation it is between me and my brother. Really, it is the coolest thing in the world. We are the 10th set of twins ever in 150 years of baseball to play Major League Baseball, and I really never thought it would be our goofy butts to be a part of something like that. But really, it’s a support system between the both of us. Growing up, as most families do, you have your sibling rivalry between each other, and everything is viewed as a competition, you get in your little fights, but then two-minutes later your best friends,” Rogers said.
“As we got older, it was good for both of us to go to college separately, so we could both gain our own identity. I think really that’s why Midland has been such a big part of my life because that was the first time I was only known as Taylor, and not just one of the twins. For right now though, our relationship is not very competitive, we don’t try to beat each other with our numbers in how we pitch or anything like that. It is truly a support system; I’m pulling for him, and he’s pulling for me,” Rogers added.
Rogers was also able to talk about collegiate career at the University of Kentucky, he shared why that was the right place for him, and the memories he holds from his time there.
“Colorado didn’t have any division one baseball programs, so you pretty much had to leave the state as is. As everyone knows, if you’re going to have to leave the state, you might as well go play in the SEC. Kentucky had kind of an academic support that was setup with tutors, and an entire place called the ‘Cats Building where you could go get extra help with your school work, and that was really a big need for me, so that drew me to Kentucky immediately. I was never the best student, and I knew I needed to have good grades to play, so those two first things drew me there,” Rogers said.
Rogers continued, “I think really getting beaten down as a Freshman and Sophomore, really experiencing those failures, was the best thing for me. Looking back, it taught me how to handle failure because I really believe you learn more about yourself through that. Playing that great competition in college really set me up well for Pro Ball, and I think it was really the right stepping stone to get to professional baseball.”
Rogers was named to the American League All-Star roster this past summer, and he talked about the opportunity to play in such a big game, and what the experience was like getting to play in the game, in his hometown, in front of a bunch of family and friends.
“They called me late, it was the day before the Home Run Derby started, they said that Gerrit Cole wasn’t going to pitch, so they needed another pitcher, and I was the next one on the list. They asked me if there was anyway I could get to Denver for that following day, but I was already in Denver hanging out for the all-star break, which pretty much started the whirlwind of stuff. Calling people, trying to get tickets figured out. With it being my hometown, they asked me how many I needed, and I asked them ‘well how many you got?’ Rogers said.
“But my brother came home for the all-star break from San Francisco, and that’s what I was talking about earlier about our partnership, and being big fans of each other. His numbers suggested that he should have been the one pitching in that game, but not one time did he feel sorry for himself, he came to support me and was happy for me, which is really impressive, and I was really super stoked to have him there. We got to go together on the Red Carpet and walk together, we got pictures, and it truly was a neat experience. I didn’t end up getting a chance to pitch in the game, which was completely OK, because it still counts, and we’ll get the jersey framed up, and it’ll be something I can remember the rest of my life,” Rogers added.
Rogers shared how he first became involved with the Midland program, and he shared his experience coming from Colorado to Cincinnati to play for the Midland Redskins.
“I committed to Kentucky, and the assistant coach at the time was Brad Bohannon, and he had asked me what I was doing for the summer. I told him I had no plans because our little 18 game high school season was as far as you could go, and once you graduated high school in Colorado, there was nothing to do before heading to college. So [Bohannon] told me that he wanted me to go to this place in Cincinnati, and he really talked it up, was saying all of these great things, I just thought he was really selling it just to get me to go out there. It turns out what he said was all true. But I was the fifth guy to pitch, and I really realized it was different world out there when guys on the team told me they had been playing there for a few years, like [Devin] Marrero and Dillon Peters, and I realized that they had a pretty different setup out here, but we ended up getting a ring that summer to commemorate what a great summer I had out there,” Rogers said.
Asked about his favorite stop on the road in the big leagues Rogers said, “We go to Chicago 3 times a year, there’s a lot of places to checkout for food and stuff like that. I really like going to Ditka’s for lunch, kind of weird, but it’s probably on my mind because I watched [two former Midland Redskins] Adam Engel and Brian Goodwin hit back-to-back home runs off us earlier,” Rogers said with a laugh.
Taylor Rogers has continued the success from Midland to a big-league mound, and the entire Midland family could not be prouder to call this young man an alum of the program. Taylor will continue to make a positive impact not only in Major League Baseball, but on the Midland program, and he will always be a Redskin.