The Blue Jays have taken a college Pitcher with their first round choice in each of the past three seasons, and could take another this June.
Missouri State RHP Jon Harris was selected with the 28th overall pick in 2015. A year later, Pitt righty T.J. Zeuch was chosen 21st, and last year’s pick, Nate Pearson, was chosen 28th, the 2nd of two 1st rounders the Blue Jays had in 2017.
Ole Miss LHP Ryan Rolison, a draft-eligible sophomore, may become the fourth successive first round collegiate arm taken by the team if he’s still on the board at #12.
Rolison does not light up the radar guns, sitting 91-94, but he demonstrates a four-pitch mix with plenty of movement and pitchability that generates a lot of swings and misses. As a freshman, he averaged better than a K per inning in the tough Southeastern Conference, and he’s ahead of that pace so far this year. His curve is the pitch most often noted in scouting reports.
Rolison was a 2nd Team High School All-American in 2016, and was ranked as the top Pitching prospect in the Cape Cod League by Baseball America last summer. He started in the bullpen as a freshman, but quickly worked his way into Ole Miss’ rotation.
Working from the 1st Base side of the rubber, Rolison has a clean arm action, and a slight hesitation in his wind up. Rolison has a three-quarters delivery, but he varies his arm slot on some pitches. His front foot lands directly in line with home plate. Rolison’s fastball has good movement to both sides of the plate, but his command of it is described as fringy at the moment. He throws an 81-82 slider with good tilt and depth, and his curve has been described as a wipeout pitch. His change is a work in progress, and probably will be a focus in his first year of pro ball.
Rolison has the frame (6’3″/200) and mix of pitches to fit a starter’s profile. He’s worked his way up many draft boards, and there’s a possibility he won’t be available when it comes time for the Blue Jays to pick. As Jeff Ellis of Scout.com pointed out earlier, Rolison’s July birthday makes him one of the younger players in his draft class, and the Blue Jays are one of a growing number of clubs who use that as part of their criteria in evaluating an amateur player. If hasn’t been selected, he would be the top college arm available, and could be a likely Blue Jays first round pick.