In the middle of the Phillies’ euphoric run to the National League pennant, a team official sidled up to a reporter and asked, “Did you see what Johan Rojas did yesterday?”
Far from the excitement of the NL Championship Series, Rojas put on a dazzling baserunning display while playing in the Arizona Fall League. First, he stole third base without a throw, then took advantage of a soft toss from catcher to pitcher and swiped home, finishing the exciting dash with a headfirst slide.
On the bases and in center field, Rojas has game-changing speed. Over four minor league seasons, he has been successful on 129 of 157 stolen base attempts. He was a 13-for-13 in the AFL while going 13-for-42 (.310) at the plate with four doubles and a triple.
The 22-year-old Rojas split the season between High-A Jersey Shore and Double-A Reading. In 60 games at Reading, his offense improved. He hit .260 with eight doubles, five triples and four homers in 60 games.
For the season, he was 62-for-67 in stolen base attempts.
The Phillies signed Rojas for $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. In November, the club placed him on the 40-man roster.
Wiry strong at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Rojas has work to do at the plate if he’s going to make an impact with his speed. In 130 totals games in 2022 he hit .244/.309/.354 with seven homers.
Defensively, Rojas is a pure center fielder who projects to be elite at a position where the Phillies have suddenly added quality and athleticism. The team traded for Brandon Marsh in August and picked Justin Crawford in the first round of the 2022 draft.
Marsh will play at 25 in 2023 and has a chance to lock down the big league job. Crawford, loaded with tools and potential, will turn 19 in January and is just getting his career started. Rojas fits in somewhere in the middle, and his performance in 2023 will offer a read on how high he can go.