Rockies pick left-hander Rolison 22nd overall

June 4th, 2018

DENVER -- Ole Miss left-handed pitcher Ryan Rolison, who struck out 13 on Saturday in NCAA Regional play, became the Rockies' top pick -- 22nd overall -- on Monday in the MLB Draft.
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Rolison is 10-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 17 games, 16 starts, and has 120 strikeouts to 45 walks in 97 1/3 innings as a Draft-eligible sophomore.
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Rolison was one of the Rockies' three choices during the first day of the three-day Draft. They took Bedford, N.H., left-handed-hitting first baseman Grant Lavigne 42nd overall in Competitive Balance Round A and Texas A&M right-handed pitcher Mitchell Kilkenny 76th overall, as compensation for losing relief pitcher Greg Holland to free agency.
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In 2016, Rolison was heavily scouted out of University School of Jackson (Tenn.), where he earned USA Today Tennessee Mr. Baseball. He was ranked among the top 50-60 Draft prospects, but Rolison made it clear he wanted to pitch at Ole Miss, and fell to the 37th round, where the Padres took him.
"We liked his stuff," Rockies vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt said. "We liked his feel to pitch, his competitiveness. We've watched him since high school. He had a high price tag going to Ole Miss, knowing that he's a sophomore-eligible coming out. We just think that there's a lot of ceiling left to this kid."
Rolison is the second pitcher in Ole Miss history to be taken in the first round. The Indians took lefty , who would briefly pitch for the Rockies and now is with the Red Sox, fifth overall in 2010.
After a standout freshman year at Ole Miss (6-3, 3.06 in 19 games, including 10 starts), Rolison caught scouts' attention in the collegiate wood-bat Cape Cod League last summer. He went 3-0 with a 1.92 ERA.
"A lot of it is the expectations of being a Friday night starter in a good college conference," Schmidt said. "He pitched very good in the Cape Cod League last summer. With that experience, he showed improvement."
Ole Miss was eliminated from NCAA Regional competition on Monday night, and Rolison was not made available to reporters after the game. He is expected to talk to Denver-area media on Tuesday.
While Rolison, 20, can hit 95 mph with his fastball, he works in the low 90s and is especially adept with his curveball, plus uses a slider and a changeup.

Lavigne, who is listed at 6-4 and 220 pounds and bats left-handed, has signed with Wake Forest. No position player from New Hampshire has ever made the Majors, although 2015 Orioles Draft pick Ryan McKenna is at Double-A.
Lavigne has good tools at the plate and on the bases, and some toughness -- developed as a defenseman in hockey. Some scouts believe he can play left field. Lavigne has been the New Hampshire Division I high school player of the year the last two seasons.
"It showed up last summer as he made the summer tour to the different showcases and we saw him at the tournaments, that the kid had a natural feel to hit," Schmidt said. "He wasn't strictly a big, physical pull hitter.
"He had the ability to use the whole field. He had power. He just happened to grow up in New Hampshire. But he's a good-looking player. We think he has a very good future."
After pitching in relief in 14 of his 15 games as a freshman and 21 of his 25 games as a sophomore, Kilkenny, listed at 6-4 and 206 pounds, started all 16 of his appearances in 2018. He responded by going 8-5 with a 3.34 ERA, a .243 batting average against and 92 strikeouts against 24 walks in 97 innings pitched.

Kilkenny, 21, won eight of his first nine decisions. With a fastball that tops at 94 mph and a low-80s slider and a changeup, Kilkenny displays good control and the ability to keep the ball low in the strike zone.
"It's a tall, rangy body," Schmidt said of Kilkenny. "The arm works good, solid stuff. He was up to 94-95 earlier in the year, and he probably got tired because he had been a reliever in earlier seasons.
"And as the season moved along ... he probably wore down a little bit toward the end. But we think there's a very good upside for him."