Ryan Rolison was a 2018 draft-eligible sophomore out of the University of Mississippi and went 22nd in the first round to the Colorado Rockies. Rolison is currently the Rockies #3 prospect on Michael Parnell’s Rockies Top 50 on Prospects1500 and #2 on MLB Pipeline. In his first full pro year, Rolison was promoted quickly to High-A Lancaster in the California League, and in his first start he was matched up with high-touted Padres’ prospect MacKenzie Gore in a pitching duel. Neither pitcher factored into the decision during the extra-inning affair, but it was a baseball fan’s dream if you love great pitching.
Rolison came out of the gate strong in 2019, but hit a rough patch mid-year after being selected for the Cal League All-Star Game. After battling through some rough starts, Rolison came back strong and ended the year like he started.
Rolison handled the hitting-friendly Cal League and a home ballpark where balls fly out of the ballpark regularly. In Spring Training 2020, he pitched three innings in big league camp before it was shut down. It’s hard to say how the COVID work stoppage is going to affect minor league player development, but I’m hoping we see Rolison at Coors in 2021. In the meantime, here’s what he had to say about his professional career so far.
Gail Verderico: How would you describe/evaluate your first full year in professional baseball?
Ryan Rolison: I fully believe my first full season was a career changer. Going through adversity in the middle of the year was something I needed to go through to be the pitcher I want to be in the future. Learning how to adapt and read hitters’ swings pitch by pitch was something I needed to work on and this year was really productive in that part of my game. I learned about myself and the art of pitching last year. Overall, a very successful year.
GV: What surprised you the most about the Cal League? What was different than you anticipated?
RR: I don’t know if anything really surprised me. I will say that the talent all around in the California League was eye opening.
GV: You got off to quick start, were promoted, and made the Cal League All-Star team. Congrats, very exciting! What was the best part of the All-Star experience?
RR: The best part about the All-Star game was getting to know players from other teams and getting to talk baseball and much more. The atmosphere at that game was very fun to be a part of as well.
GV: What have you been working on and what has your routine looked like while baseball has been on hold?
RR: During this time of uncertainty, I am keeping my body and arm ready to go so when the time comes, I’ll be ready. My main focus is on pitching side right now and finding better command with my changeup, and throwing more fastballs arm side. Other than working out and throwing, I have been playing a lot of golf with my dad and friends.
GV: What are your goals for when play resumes? Is there a particular pitch or aspect of your game you want to improve?
RR: I want to become comfortable enough with my changeup that I can throw it in any situation or count.
GV: Not a lot of young players are involved in charitable work. How did you get involved in Shriners Hospital and K’s for Kids?
RR: My freshman year of college we played in the Shriners Classic Tournament in Minute Maid Park. We had an opportunity to meet some of the kids and I immediately felt a connection with those kids. I knew when I had the platform to be able to do it, I wanted to help out with raising money for the kids and their families. So, I came up with the idea that I could raise money for every strikeout and named it “K’s for Kids”. With help from family, friends, and others, we were able to raise over $10,000 to help aid any needs.
GV: I’ve seen you grab a bat in the dugout quite a few times. You look like you want to take some hacks. Are you looking forward to batting? Are you a good hitter?
RR: Don’t let me fool you, I am not a good hitter at all…haha. I like to pretend like I am, but when it comes down to it, I have no chance in the box. I am excited to see what I can do when the opportunity presents itself.
GV: I hear you didn’t fare well at the cup stacking contest at Rockies Fan Fest. (16 out of 19 with a time of 11.72 seconds) What happened? I expect a better showing next year!
RR: Let’s just say it’s harder than it looks. Although I did get better each time. I don’t think that cup stacking is my calling. I will be ready for redemption next year though!
GV: I’ll be looking forward to that, for sure! Even more so to watch you pitch when we get started again. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
Gail is Bay Area born and raised. She was conflicted on which side of the Bay to root for early on, but eventually made the right choice and sided with the A’s. Gail now lives in Southern California and enjoys travelling around the country watching as many baseball games as she can. Follow her on Twitter @1baseball_gail.