Redshirt sophomore outfielder Jordon Rogers fouled off another pitch to a chorus of cheers from the dugout during Michigan’s 17-7 loss to Maryland on Monday. The next pitch came; it was a ball, and Rogers sprinted down to first after a long at-bat. Roger’s 10-pitch walk was just one of several quality at-bats he has had since being inserted into the lineup.
Fifth-year outfielder Christan Bullock went down with turf toe heading into the series against Penn State, and Rogers has stepped in for him to great effect. After Bullock’s injury, Rogers began starting full-time on Mar. 27. Though officially listed as a catcher, Rogers has thrived in Bullock’s spot in the outfield, cementing himself as a spark plug atop Michigan’s lineup.
“I was excited for the opportunity,” Rogers said. “I enjoy playing all of (the positions). (Michigan coach Erik Bakich) puts me anywhere, and I just try to do my best to hold it down.”
Rogers has been on fire offensively, moving up to the top of the order for the Wolverines and putting together great at-bats, which is reflected in his .320 batting average and .433 on-base percentage.
“He’s just one of those guys that is able to slow the game down offensively,” Bakich said. “His heartbeat seems like it’s slow, his breathing is under control and he has a knack for having quality at-bats.”
Rogers has also been a major threat on the base paths, setting the tone for a team that loves to be aggressive. Against Penn State, he turned a single into a hustle double and has racked up three stolen bases already in limited time. While the aggression has resulted in some mistakes on the bases, he has fueled the team with his aggressiveness, much to the delight of his coach and his teammates.
“He just always goes out there and puts out great at-bats,” redshirt junior outfielder Danny Zimmerman said. “He’s an absolute demon on the base paths as well. He’s just a perfect leadoff hitter for our lineup.”
Rogers has been prone to the defensive mistake here and there. He hasn’t yet recorded an error but has misjudged a few fly balls and misplayed a ball off the wall last weekend in the series against Northwestern and Maryland, which allowed extra bases for the other teams.
Rogers’s fast start is all the more impressive considering the limited experience he had coming into this season. He redshirted during the 2019 season, and only had two at-bats during his three appearances in the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season last year. Nonetheless, his lack of experience at the collegiate level has not stopped him from getting off to a flying start.
It remains unclear whether Bullock will be able to reclaim his starting spot in centerfield from Rogers, although his superior defense may help him there. Rogers could also move to designated hitter where the struggling sophomore infielder Jake Marti has been playing. Regardless of where he slots in, Michigan will look to keep his bat and baserunning in the lineup.
“JoJo needs to stay in (the lineup),” Bakich said. “Jordon has given us a great spark, and he’s another guy that’s been patient, stayed ready and maximized his opportunities.”