Mel Rojas, a 23-year-old outfielder, shined offensively in his 2014 Spring Training debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBI’s. Rojas took over center field duties from Gregory Polanco, who also had a somewhat productive day at the dish, homering in his first at-bat of the game. All in all, the Pirates must be pleased about the performance they received out of the center field position today.
Rojas, who is in his fourth professional year, all with the Pirates, has a career triple slash of .250/.314/.353 and 28 home runs, still has at least one more season before he’s going to be ready to participate at the Major League level, and there’s really no reason to rush his progress. The Pirates have Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen anchoring the starting left field and center field positions, respectively, for the next couple of seasons, and if Polanco matures into the player that internal and external scouts have him figured to be, Rojas is looking at a bench role at best when he joins the team.
Most recently, Rojas spent the 2013 season at AA Altoona of the Eastern League, where he put up a triple slash of .274/.332/.410 and five home runs in 120 games. He’s somewhat of a base stealing threat, being caught 35 percent of the time he attempts (60-for-93). Defensively, he’s a career .984 defender, though he does have the ability to play all three outfield positions. The majority of his time is spent in center field, which seems to be the template the Pirates have been using of late for their outfielders — Marte, McCutchen and Polanco are all natural center fielders.
Rojas could be a fit with the team in the future if the injury bug bites someone, but you won’t see him in the Bucco black and gold this season. He could also potentially develop into trade-bait potential, perhaps for corner infielding help.
Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.