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Will Kyle Roller See Big League Action in 2016?

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Kyle Roller has a shot to plug in at one of Tampa Bay's weaker positions.

Kyle Roller stares down his future team.
Kyle Roller stares down his future team.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On December 18th, 2015 Tampa Bay signed power hitting Kyle Roller to a minor league contract. The 2010 8th round draft pick out of East Carolina University provided above league-average offense at every stop while climbing the ladder to AAA in 2015, but the New York Yankees left him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, and then released him shortly after. The Rays quickly scooped the left handed 1B/DH up.

Coming into the 2014 season, Roller was mostly a power pull hitter, and opposing defenses were betting on him hitting to the right side of the field. Roller changed his approach to spray the ball to all fields, and it reflected in his .429 BABIP and .385 batting average, earning him a promotion to AAA. He continued to mash there, and many thought he would get his first taste of big league action in September. Maybe the 28% strikeout rate held him back. On January 26th, 2015 Kiley McDaniel had this to say about Roller:

1B Kyle Roller (Video he has typical 4A slugger look at a muscular 6’1/235 with 65 raw power and some stiffness, but he has shorter arms that allow him to hit higher level pitching more than expected; there’s a real shot he’s a platoon bat and there may be .250 with walks and 25 homers here)

The 2015 season ended up being a different story. Though his walks and strikeouts remained similar to his career marks, his batting average, ISO and BABIP all saw significant declines. At 28 years old and 250 lbs, its not inconceivable to think that he is already starting to decline. Its also possible he just can't hit the advanced breaking stuff he's seeing at the highest level of the minors. If he can show us 2015 was a fluke, he could be the first call up at DH or 1B. Overall, Steamer thinks he could be good for a 98 wRC+, and that could play up in a strict platoon role vs RHP only.

There was too much potential in Roller's bat for the Rays to pass on, but there would have to be an injury (or Loney trade) for him to crack the current roster. Considering Marc Krauss and Allan Dykstra saw time at 1B last year, there should be a decent chance for Roller to get his first shot in the big leagues in 2016.