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2019 Diamondbacks Reviews: #23, Josh Rojas

1 of 4 shipped from Houston in the Greinke trade, Rojas made his debut shortly thereafter.

Rating: 5.93

Age: 25

2019 Stats: .217 BA, 16 RBI, .312 OBP + .312 SLG = .624 OPS, 4 SB

2019 Salary: League Minimum

2020 Status: Pre Arbitration - Currently on the 40 man roster


Introduction

Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder, was born in Glendale, AZ. He was coached and mentored by his father from youth ball to club ball and then attended Paradise Valley CC and later, University of Hawaii. He was drafted at age 23 in the 2017 Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros and then in 2019 traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in one of the biggest trades during the season. Along with Josh Rojas, the Diamondbacks also received pitcher Corbin Martin, pitcher J.B. Bukauskus, and 1st baseman Seth Beer from Houston in exchange for one of the greatest pitchers in Diamondbacks and baseball history - Zack Greinke.

In the minors, Rojas split his time between infield and outfield but aside from one appearance at 2b in 2019, Rojas spent all of his time in the outfield while with the Diamondbacks.

2019 Review

Now an Arizona Diamondback, Rojas was sent to Reno where he played just 8 games with the Aces. He was called up to the majors on August 12th, and was the 1st player who came over in the Greinke trade to get promoted. He made his debut against Colorado playing left field at Coors and batting 6th in the order. 6 may have been his lucky number because Rojas connected for his 1st major league hit during the top of the 6th against the Rockies Jake McGee. Rojas did not stop the show with just a single base hit in his D-backs and Major League debut, he went on to drive in Christian Walker during the top of the 7th with his 2nd hit of the game. In his debut, Josh Rojas went 2-4, with 1 RBI and 1 GDP. Not bad at all, son.

From there Rojas played 6 games in right field, and then back to left field for the remainder of the season aside from one game where he made an appearance at second base. In 40 games defensively, Rojas committed zero errors. In an interview, Rojas credits Dave McKay for helping him transition to an everyday outfielder along with team mate Steven Souza Jr, who offered his experience as an outfielder.

At the plate Rojas could be frustrating. At times it looked as if he was swinging away, almost trying too hard to make something happen offensively. In 138 at bats he stuck out 41 times (edit) but drew an “impressive” 18 walks. The offensive stat that stands out most to me is Rojas’ 7 doubles. Rojas, who was known in the minors as someone who would steal, stole just 4 bases during his debut season. That could be because he had difficulty getting on base to begin with.

Rojas’ most productive game offensively came on September 20th against the Padres. In the 7th Rojas cleared the bases with a double, his 6th at the time, against Padres pitcher Nick Margevicus. Before that 3 run double Rojas had struck out twice, reached on an error, and lined out. See video highlights from September 20th below:

Rojas’ 1st big league home run arrived during a game at Chase field on August 30th against Dodger evil. With 2 outs in the 7th inning Rojas jacked a two-run shot to RF to tie the game. The D-backs would go onto win after a Dodger-evil-baulk in the 8th allowed Tim Locastro to score.

While Rojas has a lot of potential and is very talented, in his 2019 debut he did not necessarily “wow” anyone that I am aware of. In my opinion he was used as average filler in an above-average Diamondbacks outfield that clearly needed bodies. Rojas’ roles were sharing duties with Adam Jones in RF and taking over for David Peralta in LF after the latter cut his year short opting for season ending shoulder surgery on August 24th.

Looking at 2020

The good news for Josh Rojas is that the Diamondbacks need outfield talent and will likely be looking at Rojas in Spring Training to see how he may fit into the team’s 2020’s outfield plans.

The bad news is Steven Souza Jr and David Peralta, both corner outfielders, will be joining Rojas in Spring Training and looking for everyday work. Peralta likely has LF locked as a starter for 2020 which leaves Rojas to compete with Souza Jr (and possibly others) in RF, or maybe Rojas could get a few more looks at 2b during Spring now that Wilmer Flores’ fate has been decided.

Either way, my guess is that Rojas will have a healthy and productive Spring but will start the year in Reno, possibly floating back and forth from AAA to the majors much as Kevin Cron did in 2019. Based on Josh Rojas’ performance in 2019 I am still unsure what exactly the team has in Rojas aside from a 25 year old (potential utility) player who is under control for quite some time. He is a left handed bat, not that the D-backs don’t already have a few of those, but maybe other teams this winter will need that more than the D-backs do, or maybe the D-backs stick with Rojas and let him develop further in our own minor league system. A scenario I would be OK with so long as Rojas does not end up being the next Socrates Brito, decent in the minors, meh in the majors.

Still, there are lots of question marks concerning Rojas’ role in 2020.