Jackson’s Ryan Rolison has done a little traveling and could have much more ahead.
He just returned from Cary, North Carolina, where he was named as one of 28 candidates for the 18-and-under USA Baseball team.
He’ll pitch in Los Angeles next month. And if things go well there, he would follow it at the end of August with a trip to Japan. Just the typical summer for a rising high school senior, right?
But no matter how far he goes, these experiences should help him at University School of Jackson and beyond.
A left-handed pitcher committed to Ole Miss, Rolison was one of 108 baseball players selected for the recent “Tournament of the Stars” in North Carolina. St. Louis Cardinals scout Charles Peterson recommended Rolison to USA Baseball, and after being chosen he made two cuts to 40 and then 28 players.
“I pitched great. It was a lot of pressure, a lot of scouts there, a lot of pressure on me,” Rolison said, adding he needed to not worry about that and simply pitch to do his best.
Rolison is trying to be one of 20 players who will make the final roster and go to Japan for the WBSC 18U World Cup. How he performs in California will determine if he gets to go.
The players are understandably competitive and eager to prove they’re worthy, but Rolison described a healthy dynamic within the group.
He has become friends with Cooper Johnson, a fellow Ole Miss commit who has impressed Rolison with his defense and plate approach. They hope to room together once they get to Oxford.
“Oh we’ve talked about it, like, nonstop,” Rolison said.
Rolison has been to San Francisco before but never Los Angeles. Games for the national team trials will be Aug. 16-19 at Cal State Fullerton, whose baseball team participated in last month’s College World Series, and Dodger Stadium.
Rolison might get to pitch from the same mound as one of his favorite pitchers, 2014 National League MVP Clayton Kershaw.
“I think it’d be a dream come true,” he said.
Rolison throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, and he said coaches have helped him make the latter pitch better.
“They’ve really helped me find a grip that I like,” Rolison said. “I can throw that on any count now.”
He’s also talked a couple times lately with USJ coach Jack Peel, who has told him he’s very proud of him.
“It’s really good encouragement from him, to hear that,” Rolison said.
In addition to developing his pitches, Rolison has learned some good mental training tips.
Asked if pitching in front of scouts now will help ease his mind when it happens next year, Rolison said it definitely would.
He said going to Japan has crossed his mind.
“It’s just overwhelming to think I have a chance to represent the United States,” he said.
But he’s concerned for now with how he does in L.A.
“I would say that I feel a little pressure,” Rolison said. “But I can only control what I do.”
Craig Thomas, 425-9634