Feature photo of Jefferson Rojas by Rich Biesterfeld
Earlier this season, I asked James Triantos what Cubs prospect deserves more attention. Without even a beat of hesitation, his answer was Jefferson Rojas.
“The way that he goes about his work, for how young he is… he’s gonna be really good,” Triantos told me during a hot July day in Peoria.
It really struck a chord with me considering Triantos and Rojas have never shared a regular season locker room together. During the time they have been in the Cubs system together, Triantos has been one level ahead of Rojas at all times. And I hate to break it to James, but the kid is already really good.
The 18-year-old shortstop burst on the scene in 2023, going from an unknown prospect (I’ll admit that I knew very little about him when Bryan threw his name out there on the pod back in February) to a clear-cut Top 10 prospect in a loaded upper-echelon of Cubs prospects.
While so much of the narrative surrounding Rojas combines through-the-roof potential with a good bit of success when it comes to the stat sheet, I wanted to further contribute to the Jefferson Rojas Hype Train.
What he did with the stick in Myrtle Beach in 2023 was historically good. Considering his age (18), his position (shortstop), his league (Carolina League), and his ballpark (Pelicans Ballpark), the numbers he put up go from good to downright silly. So I thought I’d run through some of my favorites here.
I’m gonna use quite a few qualifiers and filters in order to describe his success. I invite you to use these cherry-picked stats as a way to enjoy Rojas’ performance this year, not to assume I *needed* to cherry-pick numbers to pull success out of his season. If you wanna look as the basic numbers, go for it! They’re still great!
All rankings are considering a minimum of 300 plate appearances over the course of a season (Rojas logged 307 in Single-A Myrtle Beach)
- Rojas led the system in my offensive metric, BASH, this season. His 134 mark outpaced Owen Caissie and Moises Ballesteros by 3 points. Remember, BASH accounts for many of those things mentioned above — age compared to peers, ballpark and league environments, and even SB/CS numbers.
- In fact, his 134 is tied for the best in the BASH era (granted, that’s just this year and last). Pete Crow-Armstrong also posted a 134 BASH in the 2022 season to lead the organization.
- Let’s make things a little more simple. Jefferson is one of only 10 players to log 300 or more plate appearances in his age-18 season in the Carolina League dating back to the beginning of Fangraphs data in 2006.
- Opening it up to more than just the Carolina League, there are just 31 players to log a higher wRC+ as an 18-year-old at the Single-A level since 2006.
- Of those 31 players with a better wRC+ than Jefferson’s 115 mark, 21 of them ended up logging time in the Major Leagues and 7 more did it either in 2022 or 2023. That means just 3 of 31 guys didn’t pan out. I’ll take those odds, thankyouverymuch.
- Rojas’ 22.4% line drive rate is the 9th best for any Single-A 18-year-old since 2006 and also the 9th best at the Cubs Single-A level (of any age)
- Continuing on with the Cubs Single-A level, that 115 wRC+ at age-18 is the 2nd best this organization has seen, behind only Gleyber Torres in 2015 (116 wRC+)
- And finally, his measly 11% swinging strike rate also ranks 2nd in the Cubs organization since 2006 among 18-year-old Single-A’ers, behind another big leaguer in Isaac Paredes in 2017 (8.3% SwStr%)
So, yeah, you could say I’m on James Triantos’ side when it comes to throwing as much hype as possible the way of Jefferson Rojas. His 2024 campaign in South Bend is already one of the biggest storylines to watch with five months still to wait out.
But what did I miss? What’s your favorite Jefferson Rojas stat? Leave it in the comments below!