Ryan Rolison's Small Adjustments Could Pay Dividends
Ryan Rolison's first major league spring training was impressive before it ended abruptly. And when the 23-year-old lefthander reported to summer camp, he was understandably rusty.
“But to his credit,” Rockies farm director Zach Wilson said, “and this is one of Rolison’s strengths, he’s got tremendous aptitude and he can make very quick adjustments.”
In Rolison's first summer camp outing, Wilson said the lefty's front side was “a little soft and a little lower” than normal. Extension was missing on his pitches, which affected his command and his typically plus curveball. What followed was immediate input from the Rockies pitching coaches, adjustments in Rolison’s next bullpen session and a second outing that went well with a firm front side.
A 2018 first-rounder out of Mississippi, Rolison was ticketed to begin the season at Double-A Hartford after pitching to a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts last season, mostly at high Class A Lancaster. But with the minor league season canceled, the Rockies brought the 6-foot-2, 213-pound lefthander to their three-week summer camp before assigning him to their alternate training site to continue his development.
Rolison’s 80-82 mph curveball is his out pitch. It’s a dependable and multi-purpose weapon. He has a solid-average 79-82 mph changeup with good sinking movement and arm action, a pitch he just has to use more often. Rolison sits 90-92 mph and can touch 93 with his fastball.
“And he can really get on righthanded hitters on the inner half and make them move their hands in. And it makes his fastball even that much more effective,” Wilson said.
Rolison made minor adjustments like putting more weight on the heel rather than the toe of his back foot, adjustments Wilson termed “advanced stuff” and said are geared to “making sure he stays balanced over the rubber just a little bit longer, so he can really gather himself and make sure he’s using the full complement of his lower half.”
— Other players in the Rockies' satellite camp in Denver include first baseman Michael Toglia, third baseman Aaron Schunk and righthander Karl Kauffmann, their top three picks in last year’s draft, and lefthander Helcris Olivarez, who began last season in the Dominican Summer League before a promotion to Rookie-level Grand Junction in late June.
— Righthander Peter Lambert had Tommy John surgery. The operation, which was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on July 21, will likely sideline Lambert, 23, for the entire 2021 season. A second-round pick in 2015, Lambert made his major league debut last year and went 3-7, 7.25 in 19 starts.
— The Rockies were surprised when first baseman/left fielder Brian Mundell decided to retire. The 26-year-old was invited to spring training as a non-roster player for the third straight year after hitting .333/.399/.521 last season at Triple-A Albuquerque with 32 doubles, 11 homers and 61 RBIs, finishing fifth in the Pacific Coast League in batting and eighth in doubles. Drafted in the seventh round in 2015 out of Cal Poly, Mundell set a modern minor league record with 59 doubles for low Class A Asheville in 2016.