Rox prospects learn to give back like big leaguers

Rodgers, Wall part of charity Wiffle ball tournament

Rox prospects learn to give back like big leaguers

DENVER -- Because shortstop Brendan Rodgers and second baseman Forrest Wall are recent Rockies first-round Draft picks, the expectation is that they will be forces at the Major League level. So they spent the weekend giving back like big leaguers.

Rodgers, 20, the third overall pick in 2015, and Wall, 21, selected 35th overall in '14, along with Royals lefty pitching prospect Foster Griffin, 21, a first-round pick in '15, recently sat down with their agent, Jason Romano, a former Major League utility man. Romano, who played for five teams from 2002-05, was surrounded by players who enjoyed community work, and figured it's not too early for these prospects to start.

The result was "Wiffle With the Pros," a charity event in Orlando, Fla. -- an area in which all three of the prospects grew up. The event grew 16 teams from many sources -- pro players, companies, youth and high school coaches -- and raised a net of $4,700 for Brethren Reaching Out, a Christian non-profit that provides outreach to about 400 socially and economically disadvantaged children from Head Start (kids under 5) to high school.

"It's good to be involved with the community at an early age," said Rodgers, who hit .281 with 19 homers and 73 RBIs at Class A Asheville this past season to rise to No. 1 on the Rockies Top 30 prospects list, according to MLBPipeline.com, and No. 6 on the overall Top 100 list. "I don't want to start too late. Sometimes when you get older, you may not have as many options. So me, Forrest and Foster, we wanted to get started early and get on the radar, I guess you could say, for things like this.

"It was a good turnout for our first event. We're all glad for the donations and helping the community out."

Wall -- who had right shoulder surgery in high school, but since then has steadily found health and professional traction over three seasons (.281, 16 homers, 127 RBIs) -- rose to Class A Advanced Modesto this past season to compete with mostly older players. He and Rodgers have had an intense offseason that included time in the Dominican Republic instructional program and workouts at the team's training center in Scottsdale, Ariz.

But he enjoyed being home to have some fun during the charity event, as well as helping a wide-reaching program. Run by Rose Davis, who's known as "Miss Rose" and "Sister Rose" to the appreciative community, Brethren Reaching Out helps with food, clothing and school supplies, plus life skills.

"We were the 'Pros' of the 'Wiffle with the Pros' tournament, and so the teams were able to whenever they wanted have us pros pinch-hit," Wall said. "So it was a cool opportunity for us to play in the games. We were able to pinch-hit and help the team out. That was the best part.

"I was able to sponsor a team and I had a couple of my good buddies from high school. Some played high school baseball and others were just my good friends. It was really fun to have them come out and play. Some of my friends who actually weren't even baseball players played really well. That was really cool to see."

That was part of Romano's goal, to let Rodgers, Wall and Griffin -- the Royals' No. 15 prospect -- understand that charity work is important, but it can also be enjoyable. Romano came up with the Wiffle Ball tournament idea during lunch with the three young players.

"I've been through the lifestyle that they are going to have, and having been around charitable guys that gave back to their communities, I've seen the importance of that," said Romano, who played 18 games with the Rockies in 2002. "They grew up around Orlando and have had two or three years of pro ball. It was time for them to give back, show appreciation."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.