Today we continue our top five Purple Row Prospects (PuRPs) for the mid-season 2018. In case you missed it, here are prospects 30-26, prospects 25-21, prospects 20-16, prospects 15-11, and prospects 10-6. Yesterday, Garrett Hampson led off the top five. As a reminder, in this edition of the PuRPs poll, 31 ballots were cast, with 30 points granted for a first place vote, 29 for second, etc.
For each player on the PuRPs list, I’ll include a link to individual stats (via Baseball-Reference), PuRPs voting stats, a note on the 2018 season to date, and a scouting report from a national prospect writer. For what it’s worth, I’ll also include where I put each player on my personal ballot. All ages are as of the time the article was posted.
4. Ryan Rolison (812 points, 31 ballots) — Preseason Ranking: NR — High Ballot 2, Mode Ballot 3, 4
How did he enter the organization?
2018 1st Round, University of Mississippi
Why did he make the PuRPs list?
All first round picks naturally receive PuRPs attention from voters, especially those like Rolison who receive multi-million dollar bonuses. In the case of Rolison, the 22nd overall pick of this year’s draft, his slot bonus of a shade over $2.9 million fits the bill. A draft-eligible sophomore, the 6’2” lefty pitcher had come into the year as a potential top 10 overall selection due to a strong performance in the Cape Cod league last summer. This season, Rolison struggled more with his command due perhaps to an adjustment to his delivery that made it more of a cross-body arm action. Still, Rolison’s 3.70 ERA with a 11.1 K/9 rate over 97 innings in a tough SEC represents strong production.
The 21-year-old southpaw has only 13 innings so far in pro ball, too small a sample to about which to draw many conclusions. In those 13 innings over four starts for Rookie ball Grand Junction against pitchers who are on average 1.2 years older, Rolison has allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks with 17 punchouts.
What do the scouts say?
Rolison was best known as a draft prospect for having one of the best curveballs in the class with good deception provided by his cross-body delivery.
Rolison had one of the best curveballs in the Draft, a power breaker with depth that qualifies as a well-above-average offering at its best. He sets it up by throwing his 91-93 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, and he can turn his curve into a harder slider with some tilt. He showed a solid fading changeup on the Cape but got away from throwing it during the spring.
With a strong, athletic build and an easy delivery, Rolison is well equipped to remain a starter. His stuff improved during each of his two years in college and may continue to get better. His control was inconsistent at times as a sophomore, but he has a history of throwing strikes.
The grades are 55 FB, 60 CB, 50 SL, 50 CH with 50 control and a 50 FV.
Rolison was a star on the Cape last summer, showing two plus pitches and good control, but some genius told him to throw across his body, which has cost him command, control and a lot of money, as cross-body arm actions are anecdotally associated with arm problems. Rolison will still pitch at 92-94 and show an above-average curveball; I’d certainly consider taking him with the hope that restoring his old delivery gets him back to the potential midrotation starter he was a year ago, but probably not in the first round.
Shaun Kernahan of Minor League Ball wrote up Rolison pre-draft:
When he is at his best, he pounds the corners of the zone but his command is average at best. When he misses he tends to be well outside the zone rather than catching too much plate. His front foot lands just before his hips really fire which likely contributes to his inconsistent command. He does show a heavy cross body arm action from the 3/4 slot that provides good deception and can make the ball hard to pick up by the batter.
The deception is important as Rolison’s fastball is not elite, sitting 89-93 but touching 95 at times. He has a really good curve that rolls through the zone at 78-81 which is definitely his best pitch. He will show a slurvy slider that lacks real sharpness and sits about 80-83 and is overthrown into the dirt too often. His change is his second best off speed offering that comes in about 84 with some drop to it.
He is very fundamentally sound showing excellent balance in his delivery with an easy and repeatable motion. His good leg drive will allow him to work deep into games and he profiles as a long term starter at the next level. He also shows very good athleticism and can field his position very well.
Here’s some pre-draft video of Rolison courtesy of the Prospect Pipeline:
When’s he going to get to the Rockies and how good will he be once he’s there?
Rolison is just beginning his professional journey, so it’s hard to draw too many conclusions until he’s at least had some full season ball experience. With that said, if pressed for a guess I’d say Late 2021 or early 2022 as a potential MLB ETA. Rolison appears to have the stuff and athleticism to be a mid-rotation starter and his left-handedness is also a plus for his prospect ceiling. I ranked him 3rd on my PuRPs ballot with a 55 FV grade as a high probability lefty mid-rotation starter at the big league level.
★ ★ ★
Stay tuned for our number three prospect for our mid-season PuRPs list!