No. 3 prospect Rolison to play winter ball

September 29th, 2021

DENVER – Top Rockies pitching prospect ’s next-to-last start of the season for Triple-A Albuquerque -- eight strikeouts and one hit in five scoreless innings against Reno on Saturday -- was the type that leaves everyone wanting more. So Rolison won’t stop there when his Triple-A season ends with a start Thursday at Sacramento.

Tigres del Licey of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana (Dominican Professional Baseball League) announced that it has picked up Rolison, and Rockies manager Bud Black confirmed that Rolison, the Rockies’ No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will pitch for los Tigres during the first half of the season for the winter league club.

Because he underwent an appendectomy in June, then sustained a broken bone in his throwing hand when hit by a batting practice line drive while he was working his way back, Rolison made just 15 starts this season. Rolison began strong at Double-A Hartford, sporting a 2-1 record with a 3.07 ERA in three starts. He is 2-2 with a 6.26 ERA in nine starts at Albuquerque in a stint interrupted by the injuries. He made two rehab starts in the Arizona Complex League and one with High-A Spokane.

“In 2020 he didn’t pitch because of COVID,” Black said. “This year he was banged up a little bit. He got hit in the hand during batting practice -- unfortunate break there -- and had the appendicitis.

“We’ve got to get his innings up, just like we’ve got to get a lot of guys’ at-bats up. Keep playing and improve. As a player the only way you’re going to get better is to play.”

Winter ball is the regular season in the Dominican Republic, and teams and fans treat it as such. So Rolison will go from developmental baseball in Triple-A to a highly competitive atmosphere that can often serve as a bridge to the intensity of the Majors. The Rockies expect Rolison, chosen out of Ole Miss with the Rockies’ first round pick in the 2018 Draft, to compete for Major League action next season.

From the current Rockies roster, outfielder Sam Hilliard and corner infielder Colton Welker have announced they will play in Mexico, and Black mentioned that backup catcher Dom Nuñez and righty reliever Julian Fernández have winter ball plans as well.

Black also said utility man Chris Owings, who was off to a strong start (.326 in 21 games) before a second bout with a left thumb injury ended his season, also will play winter ball. Owings is under a one-year contract, but Black said the Rockies will try to find a way to retain him. They’ve brought Owings to Spring Training under Minor League camps the last two years, and he made the club both times.