Notes From The Coast: Ryan Rolison Thrives Away From Lancaster

Image credit: Ryan Rolison (Photo by Tony Farlow)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Even the best pitchers struggle in Lancaster.

Ryan Rolison, as such, is making the most of his opportunities on the road.

Rolison, the Rockies’ No. 3 prospect, allowed one run over five sharp innings for high Class A Lancaster at Inland Empire (Angels) on Tuesday night. As a result, the lefthander lowered his ERA to 3.00 on the road, compared to a 6.27 mark at home.

“I’m really just blocking out all the factors other than making pitches,” said Rolison, a 2018 first-round pick from Mississippi. “Really just making pitches down in the zone and not trying to do too much.”

The 22-year-old allowed five hits, walked none and struck out five batters. He commanded his 90-91 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, and his breaking ball was especially effective, dropping in for strikes at 79-80 mph with tight spin. Rolison traditionally throws a curveball and shaped his breaking ball as such early in counts, but he varied the tilt and length of the pitch to give it more slider action later in counts, even though he used the same grip and it came in at roughly the same velocity. He also mixed in a mid-80s changeup.

Aside from a hanging breaking ball Zane Gurwitz hit for a solo home run in the fourth inning, Rolison maneuvered through Inland Empire’s lineup with few issues. He retired six of his first seven batters to open the game and struck out three of his final four.

“He had a great effort tonight,” Lancaster manager Scott Little said. “He commanded his fastball and his secondary pitches were strikes and he mixed it up well. He’s a good competitor and he competed tonight really well.”

The start was in line with Rolison’s recent road outings. He held Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers) to one run over five innings in his previous road start, and he pitched six scoreless innings at Stockton (Athletics) the one before that. Free from the warm air, whipping winds and high altitude that make Lancaster a hitter’s haven, Rolison is showing what he can do.

“I think this year has been a good year for me just learning who I am,” he said. “I’ve had a few rough outings, but I think if you don’t learn from those, you can’t learn if you don’t have adversity. I’m a better pitcher from that, and I’m just trying to craft myself to be the big league pitcher I know I can be.”

Dodgers Close In On Home Run Record

Dodgers lefthanders aren’t quite mashing at the pace they were to begin the season. But even with that slowdown, they are still on pace to break the MLB record for home runs hit by lefties in a single season.

After Max Muncy and Joc Pederson homered Tuesday night, the Dodgers have 132 home runs from lefthanded batters this year. That puts them on pace for 168, which would break the current record of 164 held by the 2009 Yankees.

Overall, Dodgers lefties are batting .275/.358/.522 this season. Cody Bellinger (42 home runs), Muncy (32) and Pederson (25) have led the way as they pursue the long ball record.

Corvallis Wins West Coast League

The Corvallis Knights won the West Coast League championship, wrapping the major summer collegiate leagues out west.

Corvallis beat the Victoria HarbourCats, 11-1, on Monday in the decisive third game of the championship series to win its fourth straight WCL championship.

Incoming freshman Brooks Lee (Cal Poly) went 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored to lead Corvallis. Michael Curialle (UCLA) had a single, a double and drove in three runs, and Jake Harvey (Oregon State) had a double, a homer and three runs scored.

Lefthander Tevita Gerber (Dixie State) pitched six innings, allowed four hits, one run and struck out eight to earn the win.

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