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By Paul Gierhart

Tanner Rogers
Catcher - Florida Marlins

Completing his senior year as the state of Coloradoís #1 professional baseball prospect (according to the Major League Scouting Bureau) in 2003, while also being a standout football player, Tanner Rogers had some decision making to do. Does he go to a division one college and play baseball or footballÖor does he go pro in baseball? Once, you hear his answer, youíll find an intelligent, got-it-together young man, determined to live his dreams and help all of us remember Columbine High School in a much different way.

Top Prospect Alert is happy to bring you an interview with Florida Marlins catching prospect Tanner Rogers.

TPA: How would you describe your career at Columbine HS, Littleton, CO? Were there any special coaches or teammates that left an impression with you on how you will approach the pro game?

ROGERS: My career at Columbine was a successful 4 year stint. I played baseball all 4 years. I played basketball 3 years along with being a football player for 3 years. I earned All-conference, All-State and All-Colorado in baseball and football for 2 years in a row and also was the player of the year in both sports my senior year. My senior year of football our team went 14-0 winning the Colorado 5A State Championship where I earned State Game MVP.

Our baseball team made it to the semis in state where we lost 2-1. All in all my entire career at Columbine was very successful. I would have to say that there were 3 coaches in high school that made an impression on me. Coach Gillman, Coach Malkin and Coach Severtson. All 3 of these gentlemen gave me a piece of information that I will carry with me into the pro game. The way that they approach coaching and life is the way that I hope I will be not only as a pro but as a father and a role model.

TPA: As Coloradoís NO. 1 professional prospect (according to the Major League Scouting Bureau) and also being a standout football player, what factors played a role in your decision to go into pro baseball over attending a Division 1 college as a baseball and /or football player?

ROGERS: I could have gone to Nebraska, Arizona State, Washington, The University of Colorado and/or Colorado State to play football. Along with several other schools to play baseball. One of the biggest factors that played a role in that decision was I have always been a baseball player.

I never really got into football as a kid. Another factor was when I was going to sign my contract the Florida Marlins paid for my school so if baseball does not work out I can always go back to school and play football. There have been people before me to do the same thing. Ex: Matt Mauck. I also wanted to have the opportunity to give pro baseball a try 1st. Coming out of Colorado and being an 8th round draft pick does not happen all the time. As you know Colorado is not a baseball rich state. So being drafted that high I felt the organization had high expectations of me which I love. So being 20 years old I feel I have had a head start on all the people that go to college and come out in the next few years.

TPA: Did you have any private workout(s) with any of the major league teamsí scouts prior to the June Ď04 draft?

ROGERS: The only team that I worked out for privately was the Florida Marlins. I did have the opportunity to work out for the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field. Other than that being a football player I really did not have the opportunity to show myself off that much.

TPA: What thoughts/emotions did you experience before, during and after the June 2004 draft? How hard was the decision to sign with the Marlins?

ROGERS: Going into the draft I did not think that I was going to get drafted at all. I mean everyone hopes to go somewhere in the top 10 rounds but I thought I was going to go later than that.

On draft day the hours just kind of passed and I told my mom that I was going to play golf and I could not wait anymore. Right as I said that I received a phone call from Scott Stanley telling me that the Marlins had drafted me. I was so excited, I could not even talk. I called everyone I knew and told them the good news. I also got to do an interview with one of the local news stations. A week later Scott Stanley came to my house we talked for about an hour and I then signed my contract. The decision was not that hard when they said they would give me money for school. It was the greatest 2 weeks of my life!

TPA: After signing with the Marlins, what were your experiences like in the Gulf Coast League?

ROGERS: The 1st year that I played in the GCL was a little tough. Coming out of Colorado I did have some things to work on so my first year was a learning year. This year I came back and performed a little bit. I could cut down on some things (strikeouts) but I am still young.

I have had the opportunity to play with some great people the last couple of years. Tim Cossins our manager makes things fun. Although we work very hard everyday, Tim tries to keep the attitude around the club house a mellow one. Both years we had a playoff contending team. The only thing that is not that great about the GCL is that you play at noon everyday in Florida. It got a little bit hot

TPA: What aspects of your game do you feel you need to work on and what is your off season training like?

ROGERS: I am sure that there are a lot of things I need to work on. A couple of things that standout the most are cutting down on strikeouts and having a better approach at the plate. I do have a couple of holes in my swing right now that are being ironed out. I also need to work on how well I can receive the ball and call a game as a catcher so my pitchers will like to throw to me.

As far as my off season training goes, I work out and run a couple of days a week in October and then as soon as November hits I try to work out 4 days a week, and I hit and run and throw every chance I get. Now being in Colorado my options are kind of limited but I have some really good baseball people here that are willing to help me. I have made some really good strides the last couple of years due to me having a good off season. I also have a great agent (Howard Kusnick) who is working on getting me into a facility in FT. Lauderdale in January which would help out a great deal. Other than that I just keep working out and having fun.

TPA: What role has your family played in your baseball career?

ROGERS: I played for my father until the age of 13. Now that I think back on it, it was rough sometimes. My father and I did not see eye to eye sometimes but none the less he was still a great baseball coach. When I was younger we used to go out in to the yard and back then I used to pitch so my dad would strap on the catchers gear and catch me. Right now he will still play catch with me and throw to me when I need to hit.

My Mom and Dad have always been my biggest fans and will always be my biggest fans. They have supported me so much over the years that I canít even express my gratitude towards them. They have given me every opportunity to succeed that it was hard not to. I love them so much that they donít even know. And then there is my little brother who looks like my twin. Curt has also given me such great support even though he is not an athlete. He could be really good possibly even better than me but just chooses to watch and put his 2 cents in sometimes. He has been a great brother over the years and I hope he will always be there to watch me.

TPA: Up to your high school career, what baseball experience(s) have you had? Any special teams stick out in your mind?

ROGERS: At the age of 13 I got the chance to play competitive baseball in Denver under Jay Soneff. In the 2 years that I got to play for Jay I think as a team we went 153-23. We had compiled a team where all of our players went to 3 different high schools in the Denver area. I also had a chance to go to Chicago with our rivals all through little league and was named to the all tournament team where we placed second to a California team.

Playing under my dad was a lot of fun. I always made the all star team when I was in little league- none of which did we even win anything but it was still a blast. Under Jay we won several tournaments some being the Memorial Tournament, The 4th of July Tournament and the Classic at Clement. Anyway playing for those 2 teams was so much fun being 13 and 14 years old.

TPA: What are your earliest recollections of professional baseball players & games attended? Did you collect baseball memorabilia as kids?

ROGERS: Well to tell you the truth I always went to the Colorado Rockies games as a kid along with collecting baseball cards. I do remember one game where the Rockies were playing the San Diego Padres and I got to shake hands with Tony Gwynn and he autographed a baseball that I still have today. I also got to go the Home Run Derby when All Star weekend was held in Colorado and that was a blast. Other than that I really just went to the ball game to eat a hotdog and watch the game.

TPA: What is your attitude towards in-person and through-the-mail autograph seekers?

ROGERS: I really donít mind either one of them. I want to be one of those professional baseball players who are all about the fan. Either way if someone wants my autograph I am more than willing to give it to anyone who asks whether that is via email or in person. Plus I love giving out my autograph. Ever since I started high school I have been searching for that perfect autograph and I think I have finally found it and I just want to give it to everyone.

TPA: Outside baseball what are your likes and dislikes?

ROGERS: Well there are a lot of things I like to do outside of baseball. I like to go to the movies. (I have seen so many movies that I could probably be a movie critic!) I also like to work. I have a great job as a bellman/ concierge at a major hotel in downtown Denver. I love being around people and meeting as many new people as I can. I also like to hang out with friendís, and coach our girlís football team at the high school. I also like to sleep in and workout. There are not a lot of things I donít like to do. I also for some odd reason love to eat my moms cooking when I am home. I miss out when I am gone for so many months that it is nice to come home and have a good home cooked meal.

TPA: Complete this sentence: When Iím not playing baseball, you would find me:

ROGERS: Hanging out with my family and friends thinking about playing baseball!!!!!!!!!!!!


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