How OC kid José Rojas kept the faith, made the Angels team

Every time Rob Peg sees a newspaper article about one of his favorite ex-players, a baseball coach at Vanguard University cuts it out and hangs it on his team’s dugout.

Recently, Jose Rojas gave him a lot of material.

Five years later, five years have passed since Rojas played his last match for Peg’s team at Vanguard University. Angels Infielder has worked for this moment — Play his first MLB season As a 28-year-old rookie.

However, Peg likes to use LOHAS heritage as an example for his current player. The importance of sound fundamentals. How to go a long way towards the big league. And perhaps the most important thing is how to keep believing in your dreams.

“He is a very humble person and hardworking,” Peg said. “He’s just a model of what people should be.”

Many Angels fans were already obsessed with his story, even before Rojas debuted in MLB last Friday, or even before the first big league began on Tuesday. A draft topic that spent 50 years as a minor.

He has been asked many questions over the years whether he has wondered if this opportunity will come if he thinks his dream may not come true. Pressing it again recently, Rojas took only a few seconds to answer.

“I always rely on my faith for that question,” he said. “My answer is simple: I have faith in Christ and a deep belief that I can do whatever happens in front of me. The odds may be against me, I believe anything can happen when you have faith, and you are here. “

‘I love it. Would you like to pursue it? “

The rules for LOHAS childhood wiffle balls were simple.

Almost every day after school, he and his brother Fernando went out to the front yard with only a bat and a ball. One of them will hit. The other will be marketed. There was only one way to switch. Beat the batter.

Recalling recently, Fernando began to laugh.

“I spent most of my time pitching,” he said. “Because I couldn’t take him out.”

As far as Rojas remembers, his career in baseball was his goal. And the Angels have been his favorite team since he started playing.

“There is an” Angel Day “where our entire Little League comes out. [Angel Stadium] Walk around the warning track, “remembers Rojas. “I thought, seeing that this was the highest level and a real career.” I love it. Would you like to pursue it? “”

That is exactly LOHAS’s mother, Maria, and her father, also known as Jose. I wanted it to happen when they moved from Mexico to Southern California over 30 years ago and started a family. They didn’t want to limit the dreams of their four children.

It wasn’t an easy process. Jose often balanced multiple jobs in landscaping and restaurants. Maria worked on a busy schedule as a nurse at Los Alamitos Hospital. However, they have always been deeply involved in the lives of their children. For LOHAS, this meant countless baseball games, team meetings, and practice over the years.

“He wasn’t the prima donna type person who thought he was better than others. He won it. Part of it is his upbringing from a blue-collar family. “

Vanguard coach Rob Peg

“They are the pillars of my journey, as I like to call it,” Rojas said. “Without them, obviously no one knows if I’m here today.”

Rojas improved his skills in other ways because the family did not have the money for private lessons. He studied videos of MLB stars such as Chipper Jones, Mo Vaughn, and Garret Anderson, and noted how to mimic those mechanisms. When he created the Anaheim National Team, he analyzed a basic scout report on each opponent’s pitcher.

“When there are high school students doing that, I think it’s something special,” said his former coach, Dave Torres.

After graduating from high school, Rojas played at Fullerton College and transferred to Vanguard, a NAIA school in Costa Mesa, for the last two years. As Peg recalled, he became very afraid at team meetings and had deliberately walked in playoff games. .. .. With the base loaded.

“He wasn’t the prima donna type person who thought he was better than others. He won it,” Peg said. “Part of it is his upbringing from a blue-collar family.”

In the family, Rojas was a model, especially for Fernando, who started high school when Rojas started college.

Angels infielder Jose Rojas was congratulated by his teammates after scoring in a spring training game with Kansas City Royals on March 7, 2019.

(Mat York / Associated Press)

“I would see him on the national team in high school, and that’s what I wanted to do,” Fernando said. “He was the fire in me.”

Neither knew it yet, but the reverse will soon happen.

“My first eye-opener”

Fernando didn’t really understand what cancer was until the day when his chest was tight.

It happened in the fall of 2011 during the first practice of a first year high school student. He felt unusually tired. He could say something was wrong.

Doctors have found that Fernando has lymphoma that has spread to the chest, lungs, and abdomen. At just 14 years old, he started a round of chemotherapy and was forced to stay in the hospital for most of the following year.

“There was a time when I felt I was done, it was very difficult for my body and it was a sacrifice to me,” Fernando said. “I was fed up with the pain. It’s just a terrible day.”

Rojas wore a red shirt as a college freshman throughout the trials. Baseball took the back seat for the first time in his life. He visited the hospital frequently and talked to Fernando on the phone almost every day. He had a brave face, but personally struggled to understand the turmoil around him.

“It was my first eye-opener,” he said. “I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

“We are all experiencing difficulties in life. It all depends on how you overcome them.”

Jose Rojas

Fernando eventually healed and advanced to his own high school and junior college baseball career. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he was even able to meet Albert Pujols and other Angels players before the 2012 home game. Many years before they became LOHAS’future teammates.

However, the moment when Fernando’s prognosis was unclear, and the moment when it was unclear whether his treatment would work, had the greatest impact on his brother.

“At that time, I really began to seek my faith, practice my faith, pray, and seek a spiritual lifestyle,” Rojas said. “It’s a miracle that he was cured from cancer. Given his diagnostic bet, it wasn’t certain that he would be cured. To me, it was like prayer answered.”

He said his new faith taught him an important lesson. It all depends on how you overcome those things. “

Torres, who also coached Fernando in Anaheim High, grew up close to his family during the trials. I remember he felt a change in LOHAS after that. An intensive belief that never existed before. Quiet maturity struck him almost overnight.

“I think it was when he realized that he could help his family by doing something,” Torres said. “And I think he chose baseball to do that.”

“I feel it’s ready”

Eventually, his baseball career faced unique challenges.

The day he was drafted was a fun event. Rojas, Fernando, and their father were celebrating in their living room in 2016 when his name appeared as the 1,086th overall pick.

But when he got to the pros, the infielder faced an uphill due to play time. He has always swung his bat well and has become a career .292 minor league batter, but defensively himself while predominantly playing the designated blow role behind other priority prospects. I had a hard time proving it.

He hit 31 home runs in Triple A in 2019 and was impressed with the Angels’ alternative training site on Long Beach last summer. However, he wasn’t called into the majors in either season and wasn’t selected for the rest of the MLB in the last two consecutive Winter Rule 5 drafts.

“It was a slap on the face, a blow on the chest,” Fernando said. “But he got on track, stayed on the road and grinded it.”

This is where Rojas believes in his self-belief, the ability to forge when others may have declined.

“It’s a business beyond our control,” Rojas said. “Thinking about other things can be stressful.”

So he went into the camp this spring like a long shot on the roster, but he kept refining his swing, working on defense and trying to prove he really belonged to the team’s new front office. Continued.

Suddenly the door opened. Franklin Barreto was injured. Luis Rengoo was selected as an option. And Rojas, who got hot through the cactus league and showed improvement on second and third bases, was the last man to stand in the team’s utility infield spot. Less than a week after the opening day, manager Joe Maddon officially announced it.

“He told me it was time to give me a shot,” Rojas smiled. “I feel it’s ready.”

When Rojas debuted on Friday as a nine-time pinch hitter, it wasn’t a problem that the game was out of reach.

He took his family to the stadium, crying from the stand. He smiled from a distance and had an old coach watching on TV. Finally, he reached the moment he had been chasing forever and prayed, looking back on the path he taught him to never give up.

How OC kid José Rojas kept the faith, made the Angels team Source link How OC kid José Rojas kept the faith, made the Angels team

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