Victor Roache possessed All-Star potential when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted the college outfielder with the 28th overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft. Although his career hasn’t transpired as he envisioned, that potential is still just as prevalent today as he plays for the Chicago Dogs in the American Association of Independent Baseball.
Roache hails from Yipsilanti, Michigan, where he graduated from Lincoln High School. That school may ring familiar, as it has been popularized recently by top high school basketball prospect Emoni Bates. However, before Bates became a future face of basketball, Roache reigned supreme in terms of Lincoln alumni. In high school, Roache’s name was well known across the country, as Perfect Game ranked him as the 117th high school player in the nation his senior year in 2009.
The Detroit Tigers selected Roache in the 25th round of the 2009 draft, but he valued himself higher than that. He possessed a motto, “Stay true to yourself,” back then and continues to live by that today. He honored his commitment to Georgia Southern and went on to provide that program with a season for the record books in 2011.
He tallied 10 doubles, 30 home runs, 84 RBIs, and manage a 1.13 strikeout-walk ratio in 2011. He also led Georgia Southern to the NCAA tournament. With new bats implemented in the college game, which were less powerful to create a safer environment for the pitcher, Roache’s 30 home runs sent shockwaves through college baseball.
His success earned him numerous accolades, including Southern Conference Player of the Year and Baseball America first-team All-American. He also garnered Cape Cod League All-Star that summer and was a 2012 preseason first-team All-American.
It appeared the 2011 season would springboard Roache to greater heights. But a wrist injury his junior season derailed his progress. He only played in six games and received 17 at-bats in 2012.
“By playing, I really could have made it worse,” Roache said.
The injury didn’t prevent Roache from being a first-round draft pick, however, as the Brewers selected him 28th overall.
“It honestly was a sigh of relief,” Roache said. “That process was crazy.”
For Roache, that adversity was only the start. He played in the Brewers’ organization for four years before being dealt to the Dodgers. He spent 35 games in the Dodgers’ organization before moving on to the Cardinals. But Roache didn’t resurrect his career in the Cardinals’ system either.
“Looking back on my minor league career, the biggest thing was that I was trying to do too much, I felt like I always had to prove myself to somebody,” Roache said. “Every year I moved up I had to do better than I did the year before.”
When he was released by the Cardinals organization in 2018, Roache could have called it a career. But the former first-rounder wanted one more shot. He signed with the Dogs in hopes of achieving that promise the Brewers saw in him years prior.
“This is gonna be your last year, do you want to spend it putting all this pressure on yourself or playing the game you love?” Roache said on his thought process with the Dogs.
He thrived with the Dogs last season and showed glimpses of his monster season in college in 2011. Last year, Roache slashed .309/.397/.583 with an OPS of .980. He also smacked 24 homers along with 25 doubles and drove in an impressive 79 runs.
“I was in a really good place mentally last year,” Roache said.
Following the fantastic year, the Dogs brought him back for a chance to keep the dream alive this summer.
The road to the show is different for everyone, each path entailing different turns, bumps, and, sometimes, detours. But for Roache, that road is most certainly not closed. He is just 28 years old and has displayed encouraging results with the Dogs. He has the makeup and the desire to succeed, and maybe one day, he will find himself playing at baseball’s highest level.
“The ultimate goal is to get back to affiliated ball,” Roache said.