Will Rogers

Will Rogers was all smiles after clubbing a two-run homer against Roseville Area in a 3-1 win last Wednesday, his fourth homer of the season.

Will Rogers loves playing baseball with his Mounds View schoolmates, but they’ve had to share him with elite teams through his teen years.

In fact, the current high school season will be Rogers’ last with the kids he grew up with. No Legion ball for him this summer.

“I’ll be leaving for Arizona State early in the summer,” said Rogers, recruited as a catcher for ASU but also a star pitcher for the Mustangs. “A lot of players go early to get some classes out of the way.”

Arizona State is one of the most coveted destinations for any high school player. When the Sun Devils made an offer after spotting him in a Nashville tournament, he jumped at it.

“I’ve talked to about 15 schools and three made offers,” Rogers said. “I got my first offer from the Gophers. ASU is second in Major League Baseball draft picks.”

Rogers is ranked as the No. 1 senior baseball prospect in Minnesota by two agencies: Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. Nationally, PBR ranks him 66th overall and fifth among catchers. Perfect Game has him 177th overall and 14th among catchers.

“Will is as hard-working a player as I have had the privilege of being around,” said Mark Downey, Mustang coach since 2007. “And not just the physical skills, but with his significant commitment to improving the mental skills of his game. He has made himself into one of the top defensive and offensive high school catchers in the country.”

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound right-hander is hitting .420 (21-for-50) with seven home runs and 16 runs-batted-in. On the mound, he’s 4-1 with an 0.88 earned-run-average in 40 innings, with 62 strikeouts and just four walks.

Downing added that Rogers is “an extremely high character young man” and a natural leader.

Since age 14, Rogers has played for Great Lakes Baseball Academy, based in Woodbury, in the summer and fall, giving him national exposure.

The summer after his freshman year, he was home in August to join Mounds View’s Legion team, called Tri-City Red, for the state tournament, and slugged three home runs to help them win the state tournament in Edina. He also hustled home from the airport to join his VFW team whenever possible.

“These are the guys I grew up with and it’s always great to play with them,” Rogers said. Hoping to finish his hometown career on a high note, he said about the 2021 Mustangs, “Our pitching and defense has been pretty good all along. We didn’t hit very well early but our bats are coming around now.”

Rogers homered in his first varsity game as a freshman but was just 3-for-10 on varsity that year. He was a starter as a sophomore but didn’t have a great year, hitting .219 with no homers. Last year’s season was, of course, scratched entirely due to the pandemic, a searing disappointment for the Mustangs, who were regarded as a leading state contender. The attention he’s gotten from scouts has come mainly from an outstanding career with Great Lakes. This spring is his first banner high school season.

His father, Travis, a Minneapolis native, was a catcher for New Mexico State (and is an assistant coach for the Mustangs). His mother, Nancy, was a volleyball player and gymnast in high school in Utah. He has one brother, Drew, a freshman who’s a varsity teammate, playing catcher and outfield.

Rogers plays baseball 10 months of the year, and during his two months off in the winter he lifts weights and takes batting practice at a facility in Mendota Heights.He wrestled through eighth grade, when he had some varsity matches, and played football through 10th grade (running back, linebacker) but went full-time baseball after that.

Looking ahead, his stated goals are “to have a real good college career, and get drafted.”

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