Johan Rojas was surrounded by family when he received the news. His lifelong dream had become a reality. He was headed to the major leagues.
The 22-year-old center fielder was at a barbecue in Reading, where he broke out at Double A in the first half, hitting .306 with an .845 OPS, 20 doubles, five triples, nine homers and 30 stolen bases.
Rojas, who joked that he's used to creating himself in MLB The Show and turning his attributes up to 99, won't have to build himself from scratch on the PS5 anymore.
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"It's incredible, it's something that I always dreamt about. I would play PlayStation sometimes and I would be like, yeah, I can be like one of those guys," Rojas said through team interpreter Diego Ettedgui after batting practice in the sweltering heat at Citizens Bank Park.
"I'm finally here. Even when I got to the ballpark today, I had to pinch myself, like wow, I'm actually here, I made it. It's been a great 24 hours. ... It was a special moment. My wife cried, my brother was super excited to the point that he was shaking. I was really emotional. I called my mom, she was crying too."
Rojas' brother, wife and 11-month-old son, Johan Jr., were in attendance Friday night for the series opener between the Phillies and Padres. Rojas was not in the lineup but should be Saturday when the Phillies face two left-handed starting pitchers — Blake Snell and Ryan Weathers — in a scheduled doubleheader.
He was called up to fill the Cristian Pache role as the defensive-minded center fielder against left-handed pitching after Pache went on the injured list with right elbow irritation.
"I'm going to pretty much cover Pache's role now that he's on the IL," Rojas said. "I came to bring my energy day in and day out. I came here to win. I'm going to help this team win and be available for whatever they need me for."
Rojas has plus speed and defensive ability. On the 20-to-80 scouting scale, MLB.com grades his speed a 70 and fielding a 65.
Until this season, however, Rojas had not done much at the plate. He split 2022 between High A Jersey Shore and Double A Reading and hit just .244. He has as many extra-base hits this season as he had last season, only in 202 fewer plate appearances. His focus in 2023 has been going gap to gap.
"He's had a great year," manager Rob Thomson said. "He's swung the bat well. He's got power. He's one of the best center fielders in the game and he's on the (40-man) roster, so it seemed like the right move to me."