A pipeline is developing between the Capital District and Major League Baseball, and it runs through Troy with a stop in Saratoga Springs.
Between George Rogers' South Troy Dodgers and Keith Rogers' Saratoga Phillies organizations, 16 players have gone on to the professional ranks including Saratoga Springs native Tim Stauffer (San Diego Padres) and Schenectady's Casper Wells (Detroit Tigers prospect).
Personally, the thing I get the biggest thrill out of is watching my guys having success at the pro level, said George Rogers, who has been running the South Troy Dodgers since 1972. "That's why we do what we do."
What George does through his Dodgers program is give area high school-age baseball players a national platform to showcase their skills. The Dodgers have sent 14 teams to World Series at the Connie Mack (17-18), Mickey Mantle (15-16) and Sandy Koufax (13-14) levels, and their elite 18s team is going to New Mexico Wednesday for the Connie Mack World Series to.
"[Our purpose is] just to provide an opportunity to get the kids into college and get them exposed to the right people to achieve that goal," said George.
When some of the Dodgers graduate from the Connie Mack level, George's son Keith takes over by inviting them to play for his Saratoga Phillies of the New York Collegiate Baseball League.
"We always take the top three or four guys from my father's team to start our recruiting [for the following season], and we build from there by looking at what's out there at the national level," said Keith.
Keith tries to include as many Capital District natives as possible on his Phillies teams. Among those who have worn the blue and white uniforms in years past are Wells and Shenendehowa graduate Jason Downey. There are several Section II graduates on this year's roster including Shen's Josh Shippee, Ballston Spa's Zach Hartman, Shaker's Paul Burgdorf and CBA's Greg Holle.