HARPSWELL — Mark Rogers no longer has a fastball that hovers in the upper 90s — those days are long gone. And Rogers, 35, is also several years removed — nine to be exact — from occupying a roster spot on a Major League Baseball club.

But one of the top baseball prospects to ever come out of Maine is not out of the game. Not yet, anyway.

Rogers, a 2004 Mt. Ararat graduate, is helping his dad Craig coach the Brunswick baseball team on a volunteer basis this spring.

“I’ve been around this industry my whole life and feel fortunate to be where I’m at,” said Rogers. “My dad has taught me everything he knows, and working with him on a daily basis in multiple ways has been a blast. … The kids bring the joy back to the game for me. I’ve been feeling like my old self again throwing around the ball with them and want to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained over the years to them in any way I can.

“The game owes me nothing. It’s my turn to give back to the game that’s given me so much. That’s why I love volunteering at Brunswick and getting back into the game at a higher level is something I definitely have aspirations to do. … It took a lot of hard work and dedication, I wouldn’t trade anything for it. It is how it is when you look at my time in the big leagues, but the opportunity to pitch at that level is something I’ll cherish forever.”

Rogers last appeared in an MLB game in 2012 for the Milwaukee Brewers. The club selected Rogers in the first round (fifth overall) in the 2004 amateur draft. The Brewers gave Rogers a reported $2.2 million to sign in 2004 shortly after he graduated.

He is the second highest Mainer drafted in the big leagues — South Portland native Bill Swift was selected second overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 1984 draft.

Rogers pitched in 11 games for the Brewers, starting nine of them. He struck out 52 in 49 career innings. However, arm troubles ultimately derailed his pro career. He attempted a comeback in 2014 with the Mariners and the Rangers, but never reached the big leagues.

Brunswick pitcher Adam Nussbaum says the Dragons are fortunate to have Rogers on the staff.
“He’s really helped me change my approach and gives me good tips on the little things that have helped me this season,” said the Brunswick senior. “Everything he says, there’s something that can be applied from it. … Not too many people can say they worked with a former major leaguer while they were in high school. I’ll always remember this experience and cherish what he’s taught me.”

Rogers is splitting his time between Harpswell and Chandler, Arizona since his MLB career ended in 2014. Soon after, Rogers began to think about life after baseball. And that life involved lobstering, something he grew up watching his father do.

“I went straight from the field to the (lobster) boat; I wanted to advance my life in other ways,” he said. “I miss the game like crazy and always will, but I have no regrets with how things turned out. … Us Mainers have a work ethic that’s pretty special. It’s something I’ve seen in the fishing industry and something I take pride in.”

At Mt. Ararat, Rogers attracted the attention of scouts from across the country with many flocking to Maine to see the phenom throw. Craig Rogers coached both his sons, Mark and Brett, with the Eagles.

Mark Rogers also played in what many point to as one of the most anticipated high school baseball games in Maine history — the 2004 Class A state final between Deering and Mt. Ararat.

Staff Photo by John Ewing, Friday, April 16, 2004: Whenever Mark Rogers took the mound for Mt. Ararat in the 2004 season, he attracted a crowd of Major League Baseball scouts. More than 20 came out to watch him throw against Morse in an April 16, 2004 game in Bath. Portland Press Herald file photo

The game, which drew 7,000 fans at Hadlock Field in Portland, featured three future MLB players, including Rogers, Ryan Flaherty and Ryan Reid.

Deering prevailed, 6-1.

Rogers said playing with his brother and for his dad helped him manage the pressure that season.

“Playing with Brett just made the transition to that level much smoother than it may have gone,” said Rogers. “My father was the main influence, mainly because of the freedom he gave me to pitch how I wanted to. I was blessed with the ability to throw hard and he helped that evolve to a high level.”

Rogers planned to attend the University of Miami after graduating from Mt. Ararat in 2004. But then things changed quickly that spring.

“As the season went on and my stock continued to rise, I started weighing my options,” he said. “Where I was drafted and the opportunity that presented itself, I wanted to take advantage of it.”

Mt Ararat’ senior pitcher pitcher Mark Rogers delivers a pitch during the 2004 Class A state final against Deering in Portland. Portland Press Herald file photo

On draft day, Rogers was at home on Orr’s Island surrounded by his friends and family. Aside from the day his children were born, he called it “the most exciting day of his life.”

Rogers bounced around the minor leagues and dealt with some injuries before breaking through into the majors in September 2010, coming on in relief against the Chicago Cubs in his first appearance.

After spending 2011 and parts of the 2012 season in the minors, Rogers was recalled once again, replacing ace Zach Greinke, who was traded away days before. He finished the 2012 season 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA. He truck out 41 in 39 innings of work. He started seven games, the most in one season of his career.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I had the chance to do it twice,” he said. “Playing the game at that level was special, and I hope I just made the people of Maine proud.”

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