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Johan Rojas Receives Rave Reviews



Phillies manager Joe Girardi’s focus is on the big league club, but he’ll be taking a peek down the ladder to see how center fielder Johan Rojas is progressing this season.

“He's a plus-plus defender and a plus runner," Girardi said. "He has a chance to be a special player. I believe there's Gold Glove potential there. So offense becomes really important—maturing as an offensive player.

"He has bat speed. He has a ton of tools. He's very coachable and picks up on things quickly."

Rojas, 20, attended spring training and often found himself picking up late innings in Grapefruit League games. In the final week of camp, he stole two bases and had two hits, including a walk-off game-winner, against the Yankees.

When the 6-foot, 175-pound Ramos wasn’t in the game, he was in the dugout, soaking up knowledge from Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel. Team insiders say he’s a sponge around the club’s hitting, baserunning and outfield instructors.

“I’ve learned so much from so many people,” Rojas said. “Now I need to apply everything."

The Phillies signed Rojas for $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. He flashed eye-catching promise in 2018 and 2019, hitting .294 with a .771 OPS and showing gap power between the Dominican Summer League, the short-season New York-Penn League and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Rojas showed off that same power during instructional league, where his exit velocities were among the best in camp. He topped out at 112 mph.

He also kept a promise he'd made to his mother and recently earned his high school diploma. As a youngster, Rojas learned the basics of the game playing PlayStation and during spring training had a pinch-me moment when he met one of his heroes, Miguel Cabrera.

An assignment to Low-A seems likely for Rojas, where he will get his first full-season experience.

“He’s incredibly gifted, a future center fielder and basestealing threat, in my opinion,” Phillies farm director Josh Bonifay said. “He’s got a good arm, he plays with passion and energy and hits the heck out of it."

Nick Pratto Robleitergetty

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