There is an argument around baseball about what makes a prospect. Is it seeing the guy play or can you simply look at numbers and project stardom?
One thing is certain, numbers can't possibly tell the story of Chris Rojas and his journey to the mound Tuesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.
Just a couple of days after losing his Mother, Chris Rojas took the mound and threw well for the R-Phils. Again, numbers can't tell the story, because the real story is in how Rojas had to be battling inside. Only he can really know the feeling of what he has been through the last few days.
Over the weekend, Rojas left the team to return to his family after his Mother passed away on Sunday. He returned knowing that he would leave the club again right after the game to attend her funeral. Noboby would have faulted Rojas for not returning to make his scheduled start. He could have easily stayed with his family and simply returned when everything was settled, but he chose a tougher road.
It was just last October when the Phillies signed Rojas as a minor league free agent. He had last been in the San Diego organization and pitched at AA Mobile and AAA Portland last season, making his first trip to the highest level of the minors. The trip didn't go well and Rojas was suddenly out of a job when the season ended. At 28, Rojas is old for AA, but has shown signs of brilliance at times throughout his minor league career. Battling back isn't anything new to Rojas.
In 1998, Rojas found himself pitching in independent baseball. Again, the numbers didn't tell the whole story and even after a bad season, he was picked up by the Pirates and debuted with their Rookie League team the following season. He battled through early tough times in the minors and eventually was in the San Diego organization when things started to come together and he went on to post 10 wins in 2001. Again though, things got tough for Rojas and he spent almost three full seasons at AA before his long awaited promotion last July.
Rojas' outing Tuesday night provided him with his first win of the season, on what was perhaps a fitting night for it to come. When he returns, it will be back to the grind as he continues his quest for a more fruitful return to AAA and beyond. It will be interesting to see how personal tragedy plays a role in Rojas' future, but if Tuesday night is any indication, things should go just fine.