Player: Damian Rolls
Born: September 15th, 1977 (Currently 37 years old)
Positions: 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, RF, and DH
Drafted: On June 4th, 1996 in the 1st round (#23) by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Schlagel High School in Kansas City, KS
End of Tenure: On November 23rd, 2004 was released by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
* - Didn't appear in MLB game
Currently: Damian Rolls is currently serving as a hitting coach for the Rockland Boulders in the Can-Am League
MiLB Stat Line: Slashed .251/.310/.347 with 571 Hits, 30 HR, 239 RBI, and 85 SB in 624 games
Rays Stat Line: Slashed .248/.291/.337 with 203 Hits, 9 HR, 73 RBI, 27 SB, and -0.3 WAR in 266 games
First Round Draft Pick
Damian Rolls was taken in the first round of the MLB draft on June 4th, 1996, by the Los Angeles Dodgers with their first pick of the draft. Rolls signed less than a week later on the 9th and quickly began his career as a professional as the Dodgers assigned him to Short-Season Yakima. Rolls was their starting third baseman and in 66 games he slashed .265/.283/.362 with 4 HR and 27 RBI.
The following year, Rolls was brought up to Single-A Savannah where he struggled for the majority of the year in his full season. In 130 games, Rolls slashed .211/.267/.299 with 5 HR and 47 RBI.
A new year brought another new level for Rolls as he was assigned to Class A-Advanced Vero Beach. During the year, Rolls experienced his first mid-season promotion as he was called up to Double-A San Antonio, where he would finish the season. He finished the season having played in a combined 123 games where he slashed .235/.285/.277 with 1 HR and 39 RBI between the two levels.
In 1999, Rolls found himself back in Vero Beach. Rolls went up to post his best season to date. In 127 games, Rolls slashed .297/.344/.418 with 9 HR and 54 RBI. Rolls had a solid bat for the majority of the season before falling off towards the end of the year. After the season's conclusion, Rolls underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder that would sideline him for the majority of the next season.
Playing for his Hometown Team...Or Not
On December 13th, 1999 during the annual Winter Meeting being held in Anaheim, California, the Rule 5 Draft was held. Damian Rolls had grown up only a couple of hours from Kauffman Stadium, now the Kansas City Royals had selected Rolls with the 3rd overall pick in the draft.
The Royal then immediately sent Rolls to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for a PTBNL or cash considerations. The Royals would eventually receive the latter.
Utility Man for the Devil Rays
In 2000, Rolls spent the majority of the season recovering from the shoulder surgery. He finally began his rehab assignment in Mid-August in Class A-Advanced St Petersburg. After 5 games there, Rolls was sent to Double-A Orlando where he'd play in 14 games.
When September came around, Tampa Bay called up the 22 year old Rolls and he'd make his debut on September 3rd, 2000 against the Royals. Rolls pinch hit for Felix Martinez in the bottom of the 9th against Andy Larkin. After 3 pitches, Rolls was heading back to the dugout after a foul ball, called strike, and a swinging strike.
Rolls appeared in only four games that September and registered three at-bats. He recorded his first hit on September 28th against the Yankees, pinch-hitting for Fred McGriff against Craig Dingman. On a 1-2 pitch, Rolls laced a line drive into left for a single for his 1st career hit.
In 2001, Rolls made the Devil Rays opening day roster and was expected to be used off the bench. He started in just 5 of the team's first 38 games. That changed when Russ Johnson went on the DL on May 16th. After that, Rolls was the Devil Rays starting second baseman.
For about a month, Rolls was a solid bat sometimes leading off for Tampa Bay or hitting at the bottom of the order. Around the end of June though, Rolls's bat started to slip and he lost his starting job. Rolls finished the season having slashed .262/.291/.342 with 2 HR and 12 RBI in 81 games.
In 2002, Rolls had the fortune of not making the Devil Rays opening day roster as he was reassigned to Triple-A Durham on March 13th. He would play for a Durham squad that was probably better than the major league team as Durham featured stars such as Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, and Aubrey Huff.
On May 29th, Rolls fractured his thumb sliding into second base that would sideline him until August 12th. After spending the rest of August in Durham, Rolls was called up on September 3rd. He played in 21 games for Tampa Bay and slashed a respectable .292/.315/.382 with 0 HR and 6 RBI. Meanwhile the 2002 Devil Rays became known as one of the worst teams in baseball history.
In 2003, Rolls managed to make the opening day roster, but struggled in April and suffered an injury on the 22nd while trying to attempt a diving catch. He was on the DL until May 22nd, when he was activated and optioned to Durham.
Rolls made his return to the majors when the Devil Rays optioned Jared Sandberg to Durham on June 13th. From that point on, Rolls was the Devil Rays starting third baseman and hit solidly above .270 for most of the season, until his hitting worsened around late August. In 107 games for Tampa Bay, Rolls slashed .255/.301/.365 with 7 HR and 46 RBI.
In 2004, Damian Rolls started his first opening day as Tampa Bay took on the Yankees at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. He went 2 for 5 in that game, but quickly lost his starting job as his production plummeted. Rolls was optioned to Durham on May 5th, but he was back up in St. Petersburg a week later after Eduardo Perez tore his ACL. In May, Rolls collided with Jose Cruz Jr in the outfield, resulting in a bruised chest that sidelined him for another month.
Rolls was activated on July 2nd, and spent two weeks with Tampa before being optioned once again to Durham. Rolls was finally called up for good on August 1st, but he struggled mightily going 2 for 31 through the end of the month. Rolls would finish the season having slashed .162/.231/.205 with 0 HR and 9 RBI in 53 games.
Damian Rolls was released at the end of the season along with Geoff Blum and Geremi Gonzalez to clear room on the 40-man roster for the Devil Rays, so they could add Jason Hammel, Brian Stokes, and Chris Seddon.
Toiling in the Minors
On January 21st, 2005, Damian Rolls signed with the New York Yankees, with whom he spent two years at Triple-A Columbus before being released on May 1st, 2006. A little over a week later, Rolls signed with the Chicago White Sox and was assigned to Triple-A Charlotte, but didn't even last a month in the organization and was released on June 7th.
Unable to find a job in the MLB, Rolls went to the Independent Leagues and played for the Bridgeport Bluefish for the rest of 2006. From 2007-2008, Rolls would play for the Long Island Ducks, before going to play near his hometown for the Kansas City T-Bones in 2009.
During his time in the independent circuit, Rolls slashed .288/.363/.433 with 10 HR and 38 RBI in 351 games. Following the 2009 season, Rolls decided to retire as a player, and he was hired as the hitting coach for the T-Bones
Becoming a Coach
Rolls spent the entire 2010 season with Kansas City, but left the team following the season's conclusion.
In 2011, the Rockland Boulders were founded and Rolls was brought in to be their hitting coach, a position he has served to the present date.