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Cougars Notes: Jacob Rogers finds comfort zone at the plate

It was a slow start to the season for Kane County Cougars first baseman Jacob Rogers, a 2012 40th-round draft pick of the Cubs.

By the end of April, he was only hitting .200 and was trying to figure things out.

But the last two months, Rogers has started to figure things out. Rogers was named the Midwest League Player of the Week last week and has pushed his season average to .257 with seven home runs and 30 RBI and a .792 OPS.

“He’s really turned his year around at the plate,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “He’s just becoming more aggressive. He’s letting it go a lot more, instead of really trying to fight and go the other way all the time. He’s a little slow starting when you look at his numbers, but he’s putting it together. He’s turning into a threat in the lineup, and we need that.”

Rogers was 5-for-11 last week, including a game-tying home run in an eventual 3-2 Cougars win over Cedar Rapids in the back end of a doubleheader Sunday.

“I’ve been hitting the ball well and seeing it well lately,” Rogers said. “I’ve just been kind of refining my approach up there, not chasing too much and when I get it, put a good swing on it.”

A quick learner

Cubs 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber took a big step forward behind the plate Wednesday after working with Cubs catching coordinator Tim Cossins the past few days.

After making two throwing errors at short-season Class A Boise, Schwarber had an uneventful night behind the plate Friday for the Cougars.

But Wednesday, he gunned down two runners trying to steal and popped out behind the plate to throw out speedy Johnny Davis on a bunt attempt. He was also nine-for-nine blocking pitches in the dirt.

“Today was a huge jump forward, a huge positive game for him,” Cougars manager Johnson said. “Kyle is a smart kid. He understands that there is a huge void in catching in the industry.

“It’s a special combination with a guy with a bat like that (six home runs in 11 pro games) and a guy that wants to catch. It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be fun.”

Schwarber is a willing learner behind the plate who has the desire to remain at catcher. But he knows the final decision on his future lies with his new employer, the Cubs.

“I love to catch,” Schwarber said. “But at the end of the day, it’s what the organization wants me to do, and I’ll do whatever they tell me.”

Martin sets a record

Cougars outfield Trey Martin acknowledged that when preparing for a game, the plan isn’t to steal five bases.

But that’s what Martin did Tuesday against Wisconsin, the most stolen bases in a game in Cougars’ franchise history.

“It was fun to take that many bases in one day,” Martin said. “It is pretty cool to have that record now.”

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