Q&A with Arkansas Commit Xander Rojahn

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

2019 RHP Xander Rojahn (Elk Grove) recently committed to Arkansas. Rojahn was one of the top performers for Team Illinois at the 2017 PBR Future Games. After the Future Games, he saw his ranking rise to No. 8 in Illinois and No. 157 in the PBR Overall Ranks. Here is a report on Rojahn from the Future Games

2017 Future Games (8.2.17) - Recent Arkansas commit. 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander shows thicker, proportional strength throughout his frame, and quick, strong arm. Rojahn works from a full windup and repeats well while pounding the zone and creating weak contact. Elevated himself into the Top 10 of the Class of 2019 Illinois rankings thanks to his showing at the Future Games. Has the frame and stuff of a future starter, and ran his fastball up to 89 mph while featuring and showing feel for a curveball, slider, and changeup. Did not allow a hit in his two innings of work at the event, while striking out three. Fastball has life, works mostly straight, finishes through the hitting zone and sat 86-88 mph, touching 89. Showed feel for both breaking balls. Slider, sharper, later action, good feel, 10/4 shape, 77-78 mph. Curveball works 11/5, depth, 69-71 mph. Changeup, thrown aggressively, good feel, went to it for a strikeout, 79-80 mph. High-level 2019 arm.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Rojahn: Mostly I didn't know what I was getting into. I had huge help from my parents in regards to sending emails and comparing schools, and I think that really helped me enjoy the process instead of worrying about it.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Rojahn: This really came to me as i visited more and more schools and researched what they had to offer. One day I thought this certain thing would be best for me, but after seeing more and learning more I would change my mind. In the end I found three major points that helped me decide: Tough conference, chance to play as a freshman, and ability for my parents to watch me play.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Rojahn: As I said before, this changed a lot. At first it played a major part in my decision because I wanted my parents to come to a home game if I pitched, but this changed as I realized that if it were televised, they could watch from anywhere in the world.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Rojahn: It really picked up after the PBR Future Games, where afterwards I talked with nine different schools.

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Rojahn: I believe the first time they saw me in person was at the PBR Future Games, but I know that they had seen video and talked to my coach before they saw me. The relationship really developed after i called them the first time and talked with Wes Johnson, the pitching coach. Right off the bat I loved his energy and his passion, as well as how his throwing program fit into mine very well. It then grew once i visited and talked with Coach Johnson face to face, and toured around the campus with one of the players.

PBR: What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Rojahn: It's difficult to choose what i liked the most about it, but if I had to pick i'd say the pitchers development center. All of the training tools and resources really impressed me. Some key factors were the great baseball conference, the pitching program that really fit well with me, and the campus that was small and close knit.

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Rojahn: Xavier, Illinois State, UIC, and Tennessee.

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?

Rojahn: During the high school season there was a catcher from Hersey High School that batted 1.000 against us and hit a homerun off of me and one of our other pitchers. We just couldn't seem to get him out.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Rojahn: Pretty early on I was told I was college caliber, but I think I realized it during my summer before sophomore year.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Rojahn: I'd say to keep a level head and not let too many things affect you. It's easy to let things get you down or get cocky and content with where you are. Keep working and know that you can always get better.

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Rojahn: Out of all of them, I'd still have to go with the time when I was 12 and we were in the championship for a tournament. I had pitched and hit extremely well. After I pitched I went to right field and with one out, got a pop fly and threw a kid out at home to keep the lead. The most memorable part  was the pride I could see in my dad's face as we took pictures with the trophy. One of those pictures is currently my lock screen for my phone. That day has stuck with me like no other.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Rojahn: We've got a great group of young sophomores who are willing and able to contribute to the team and a solid amount of seniors willing to take charge and see to it that we succeed. My expectation is that we gel as a team and take back our conference title, and my goal is always going to be winning state.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Rojahn: I play for Fastball USA. My most memorable moment with them is in a tournament where I gave up a few runs in the first inning on some bad pitches, but we came back to win and I ended up striking out 16.

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