Giving Back to the Community: Josh Rojas just wants to make his hometown proud
By James Lotts
When Josh Rojas headed to the University of Hawaii to play baseball, he had never been away from his home state of Arizona to play the sport he loved.
He admitted he struggled at first, but he eventually settled in and became comfortable with life on the road. However, the business of baseball brought him back home and, with that, the pressure of representing his hometown in front of friends and family.
Raised in Litchfield Park as a D-backs fan, Rojas was traded from the Houston Astros to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The return home tempered the blow of leaving the people with whom he started his professional baseball career.
“It was bittersweet for sure,” Rojas says. “It was sad to get traded away from everybody I came up with, all my friends, all the coaches I had created a bond with. It was so sad to be leaving, but the fact that it was Arizona was pretty cool.”
Rojas not only wanted to make his hometown proud on the baseball field but off it as well. Rojas has made a point to do work around the community, whether that is in the form of camps or donating gear. He was last year’s D-backs nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, a prize that is given “to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, on and off the field.”
“The award was cool. It was icing on the cake,” Rojas says. “But it wasn’t my intention going into it. I was just trying to help out.”
Rojas says he wants to host more camps and stay involved with his alma mater, Millennium High School in Goodyear.
A large portion of the expectations Rojas faces are on the field. He says he is proud to have been a part of the D-backs’ journey of improvement since he was traded to the team in 2019. Even though he is a veteran on this young D-backs team, he is still learning from everybody on the team, including his younger teammates.
“But for the most part we’re bouncing ideas off each other,” Rojas says. “I’m taking just as much from (Dominic Fletcher) Fletch and Corbin (Carroll) and Alek (Thomas) as they are from me. I really haven’t taken much of a leadership role in that sense and giving advice. I’m learning just like they are. I consider myself new to this game. And you know, their success has come at a much earlier age than me. So, they obviously got some things figured out before I did.”
Rojas’ journey to the MLB was not as simple and smooth as it would be for a top prospect. Rojas says he struggled at times during college.
“I’d say my most discouraging year was my junior year at Hawaii, my first year of Hawaii, it was my first time away playing baseball on the road and not being home,” Rojas says. “It was a really tough year.”
After high school, Rojas played at Paradise Valley Community College before he transferred to University of Hawaii. After college, Rojas was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 26th round. Rojas says he started to get more comfortable when he started playing in the minor leagues.
Rojas is happy to see the D-backs starting to find success after some years of turbulence. He hopes the other Valley teams follow suit.
“When it comes to the Arizona Diamondbacks, we had a few tough years, a few of which I was here for. I really wanted us to turn it around. With all my friends and family and people I went to high school with being Arizona sports fans, it’s always embarrassing to look them in the eye and know that I’m helping us lose. I take pride in us having better years.”
he’s inspired by Marquis Flowers, a former football standout at Millennium High School who made it to the NFL. He and Flowers try to motivate kids in the community to want to make it to the highest levels of sport.
“I think it’s always cool to see somebody from your hometown make it and for me coming up I remember that was Marquis Flowers, went to Millennium High School and then went to the NFL,” Rojas says.
“But it was cool to see somebody from your area make it big and kind of feel like, ‘Oh, you had a part in that,’ even though I had zero part in that, but it kind of feels like there is a connection there. I feel like I carry that now with baseball.”
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