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Top 100 Countdown: Number 6 Kyle Roller (East Carolina)

KyleRollerHeadshot The CBB continues our countdown for the 2010 College Baseball season by checking in on the Top 100 Players in the country. We will be providing one player per day until we reach number 1.

We continue the list today with number 6 in our countdown with senior first baseman Kyle Roller from East Carolina. He is from Rockingham North Carolina and played high school baseball at Richmond Senior High School. As a senior, he batted .540 with five home runs, 30 RBI, stealing 14 bases and walking 30 times. He was named to the Mid-Southeastern All-Conference team as a sophomore, junior and senior. Impact Baseball rated him as the ninth-best prospect and sixth-best positional player in North Carolina.

Roller had an outstanding freshman season as he started 28-of-39 games played while batting .306 with 30 RBI, 22 runs scored, two doubles and two triples. He spent the summer of 2007 with the Thomasville HiToms in the Coastal Plain League where he was named an All-Star. He finished the summer season with the third highest batting average in the league at .351 while hitting nine homers and driving in 38 runs. As a sophomore in 2008, he started 58-of-60 games played while batting .299 with 50 RBI, 42 runs scored and 11 doubles while finishing third on the team with 12 home runs. He played the summer of 2008 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Bourne Braves where he batted .270 with 2 HRs, 22 RBI, 20 runs scored as he played in 42 games with 17 starts at first base.

Kyle had a breakout junior season when he hit .336 with a team high 16 homers and 75 RBI as he appeared in all 66 games last season. He picked up several awards including First-team All Conference USA and 2009 NCAA Greenville Regional All-Tournament Team to name a few. He was selected in the 47th round by the Oakland A’s and played the summer of 2009 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Bourne Braves. He finished the summer with a .342 average while hitting 10 homers and driving in 33 runs in 42 games. He was named a CCBL All-Star and to the All-League team.

You can check out the rest of our Top 100 by clicking here.

  • waltgreenberg

    Okay, Brian– I’m asking a serious question and I’d hope you can provide a non-flip response to this one…I know you believe Cape Cod League performance trumps everything else, but how can a DH (with lesser offensive stats, albeit still outstanding) be ranked as your #6 college player, while Rendon (and many others) are ranked #18 or lower? Sorry, but this makes absolutely no sense. No question, Roller is a heck of a hitter (who takes full advantage of college rules by leaning into pitches to boost his OBP), but he’s a liability defensively and on the basepaths. And, BTW, despite playing in a more hitter-friendly home park and playing against a considerably lower SoS last season than Rendon, his offensive stats fell short of Rendon’s (and significantly so in AVG).

    I also don’t understand how Roller can be ranked #6 on your listing of Top 100 college players, but his returning Senior teammate on ECU, Devon Harris not even appear in your Top 100. Harris is a much better defender and baserunner, and bettered Roller last year in AVG and SLG (with Roller’s higher OBP entirely due to his 24 HBPs).

    • Forgot to add, MVP of the Cape Cod Baseball League with the best hitters and pitchers in the country in the league. The kid dominated and reminds me of Brett Wallace with his hitting.

    • Karen Blanchette

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Last time I looked players are supposed to take “full advantage” of everything they can, without breaking rules, that is sports. And as far as the “liability” part of your comment it’s starting to sound like your angry that your your son, nephew or favorite little player didn’t do better. Is this the kind of sportsmanship and encouragement you teach by example? He is one of the best in the country and if you have not watched the players in the Cape Cod league play – you really shouldn’t be judging.

    • don’t be hating on him. he is the shit and you know it!!!

  • D-Jaxx

    Total head scratcher.

    • Also, this list is projected to be the Top 100 by the end of the year.

  • Toby Ziegler

    His swing reminds me a little of Andre Ethier. 6′ 1″ 255 lbs, this guy is a monster. Should probably shed 15 lbs or so.

  • John Doe

    He really does have monster numbers. I suppose the question is (at next level) position? I mean, with the summer he had, how in the world is that the A’s didn’t sign him? They had until Aug 15 didn’t they? (ala Cesario last summer w/ Rockies)

    • Roller believes he is worth more money then he was offered by the A’s. Didn’t the A’s select Brett Wallace originally?

  • waltgreenberg

    Thanks, Brian, for the response, but again, me things you put far to much weight on Cape Cod League performance. Yes, they have some elite players playing, but we disagree that the quality of talent in the Cape trumps that of teams playing to a Top 30 – 40 ranked SoS. And need I remind you that there have been plenty of guys (especially pitchers) who had great Summers in the Cape who faltered a bit when playing the following Spring in college and, conversely, there have been numerous guys (mostly hitters) who struggled mightily in the Cape and then had POY caliber years the following college season (e.g., Kyle Russell).

    To rank Roller (a 47th round draft pick precisely because he cannot run or play defense) as the #6 ranked college player ahead of guys who not only outhit him offensively across-the-board last season, but who also are 5-tool guys makes absolutely no sense.

    Also, I’m still waiting for your response to why Roller is ranked all the way up at #6, but his Senior teammate at ECU, Devon Harris, who bettered him in both AVG and SLG last season, doesn’t even make your Top 100 cut?

    Again, Brian, the Cape is not the be all to end all; it is simply one data point.

  • So Walt,

    Roller also was First-team All-American by the ABCA last year and Devon Harris didn’t make those teams either…..

    Roller has been named Collegiate Baseball (first-team) and NCBWA second team preseason All-American.

    Harris is nowhere to be found on anyone’s list right now.

  • Good selection–Roller rocks and the best is yet to come!

  • Anna Esposito

    I was his host mom both 2008 & 2009 summer seasons while he played for the Cape Cod league. He is one hell of an athlete and a great team player all around. You can add a very intelligant young man who turned down the A’s offer to finish out his education. You will be seeing him in the majors soon!

  • cc

    Roller turned down an offer from Houston in the 13th round, one reason he was still around, if being drafted that late makes you a bad player. Roller will not be a great base stealer but just ran a 7 flat 60 for the scouts, that’s not going to clog any basepaths. The ballpark at ecu is hitter friendly down the lines but 400 to center and 375 in the gaps not cheap. His park at the cape 412, 385 and 365 down the right field line, power not a problem. Also the hbp count is as much contributed to pitchers making sure they don’t miss on him as much as anything else. He is also better than given credit for on defense close to 150 games last 3 summers with an outstanding fielding percentage at first. As for Harris , he is an oustanding talent and an even better young man and i hope he has a great year but give Roller his due for now i think he has earned it.

  • Bruce Garifales

    I have watched Kyle play in the Cape league for two years now. Some
    people are right that there are leagues with as talented players the
    cape has more of them and it is geared toward Major league baseball.
    Kyle adjusted to the league his first year and had an outstanding year
    in his second year winning MVP of the league and leading his team to
    the champinonship. He was the most feared hitter in the league with
    some teams trying to put shifts on him to stop his offensive power.
    For a man his size he can move around the base paths very swiftly and
    he is a nimble first basemen that can play good defense. His offensive
    power reminds me of Jim Thome and given the oppurtunity I think
    he can put up Jim Thome numbers or better. But the best thing
    he has going for him is he is a better person than a ballplayer and
    that is saying alot. I can only see Kyle getting better he has a ways to
    go to show his full potential as a great Baseball player.

  • Apparently, not only does Walt like to talk badly about Roller but he’ll also talks trash about the entire ECU as a team “ECU 2009 offensive numbers were dramatically inflated by a joke of an OOC schedule” and other comments made on I wonder what Walt says about his favorite team the Mets who haven’t won a world series since 1986?

    • BTW, ECU had a very competitive out of conference schedule in 2009. Just some teams failed to live up to expectations. Nothing ECU can do about that.

  • baseballfan

    Monmouth, Le Moyne, Campbell, Norfolk State, UNC Asheville? Not that tough of out of conference. I know Walt seems to complain about everything but he has a valid point a lo of the times, he is a great player but 6th in the country?

    • Yet, you leave out UCLA 3x, OK State, and St. John’s.

      They also played UNC twice, UNC Wilmington three times.

      Going into 2009, each of those teams were expected to win or be close to the conference title.

  • waltgreenberg

    Karen, I have never spoken badly about either Roller or ECU. Yes, I question Roller’s position at #6 in a college baseball Top 100, as that high a ranking (anything above #20 – 25) is based almost entirely on his past Summer in the Cape…however, you’ve never heard me question whether Roller (or Harris) was an outstanding college player. As for ECU, I have been one of the few folks out there (other than Kendall Rogers of Rivals) who has been arguing that the Pirates should be a consensus preseason Top 15 team. So I’m not quite sure what tree you’re barking up. As for my comment about ECU’s offensive numbers last year being at least somewhat inflated by their almost exclusively home-baked and powderpuff of an OOC schedule…I stand by that comment. That’s not to say that the Pirates did not still have one of the best offenses in the country LAST season, and no question it was a bit stronger top-to-bottom than Rice’s, but given (if I recall correctly) that ECU had an SoS ranking of below #130 almost half-way through the season, just before playing UNC and Rice, I’m not sure how anyone can debate the reality that the Pirates played a very soft OOC schedule…and that they averaged well over 10 runs per game in those OOC games. You scored 18 runs against LeMoyne, 21 vs. UNC-Asheville, 15 vs. Richmond, 26 vs. Norfolk State… Don’t you think those run totals (and all the hits and extrabase hits that occurred in those games) were at least somewhat the result of the competition? That’s all I was saying.

    • Walt baby… pay attention to what you’re talking about, YES you did talk trash about Kyle you said “he’s a liability defensively and on the base paths” Do you think this is positive feedback? Do you think you are educating people on this blog? or humoring them with all the stats you can spit out? Maybe you just want to show every one how smart you are and buddy I”M BARKIN’ UP YOUR TREE to answer that question too. Now you should try to enjoy Kyle’s success with the rest of us…. or go play in traffic

  • waltgreenberg

    BTW, I think most of us would agree that what separates the quality programs in a given year from those ranked below the top 100 in RPI is pitching and/or pitching depth. As good as ECU was last season, their record against the Top 50 was only 9 – 11, and their record against the Top 100 was still just below .500 at 16 – 17. Yet, against the lesser pitching almost always found in teams ranked below an RPI of 100, the Pirates cruised to a 30 – 3 record. And ECU final SoS (according to Boyds) was only #60th ranked in the country.

  • Toby Ziegler

    Karen, Roller is 6′ 1″ 255 lbs. Chances are he IS a liability defensively and on the basepaths. He was a DH for the vast majority of 2009. Only 11 putouts at 1st base. Does he deserve to be on the this list? Absolutely. The guy can mash. But there are clearly some holes in his game. Blake Dean is no different.

    Walt has been fairly consistent in his criticism of this list. Brian puts a disproportionate amount of emphasis on summer league performance and tools.

  • Roller played 24 games this summer at first out of his 42 games played in 2009 while making two errors.

    He played first in 17 games in 2008 without making an error.

    If you can hit, you can play on my field everyday!

  • waltgreenberg

    Karen, he is perceived as a defensive liability or he wouldn’t have been used almost exclusively as DH throughout his college career. Even when ECU’s regular first baseman, Henderson, went down for 3+ weeks last season, the Pirates elected to go with a then unproven player as a replacement, rather than insert Roller at 1B. What does that tell you?

    You of all people should realize that quoting error totals for first basemen is next to meaningless. If a guy has no range or is not adept as scooping thrown balls out of the dirt, it does not show up as errors on the 1B.

    Yes, Roller can hit– no one is contesting that. However, you make it sound as if he was the best hitter in college baseball last year and in ’08. He was not even close to being that. And that’s why many of us are just scratching our heads at ranking Roller #6 ahead of a number of 5-tool guys, who actually outhit Roller last season.

    • I don’t assume as you do, that I know what the coaches are thinking and why they make all the choices they do as far as replacements go, and if you claim to be a mind reader maybe you ought to stop playing around and go to Vegas. Who is “many of us” you have a little “we like to be be jerks club?” AND Roller was MVP at the Cape Cod League which means….nothing to you, and we all know YOU are THE smartest guy there is when it come to college baseball and you know everything about Roller -therefore you are the king and we should all bow down to you – not so much. Please find something else to do. I repeat no one cares what YOU think and if YOU are scratching YOUR head, they sell shampoo to fix that problem too.

  • Again, Walt I am like a broken record. These are my PROJECTED top players in the country. Projections are based on many different factors as you know.

  • waltgreenberg

    And, again, Brian– I’ll sound like a broken record, but your “many different factors” boils down predominantly to tools and Summer League (specifically, CCBL) performance, as these two factors trump everything else on the player’s resume….and by a good margin. What’s hilarious about the sky-high Roller selection is that his ranking is based almost exclusively on his past Summer in The Cape, as the scouting community clearly has serious doubts about his tools and pro projectability beyond hitting. Rendon, Thompson, Colon, Parker and a number of others all have superior tools than Roller…all are perceived as much better pro prospects than Roller…and all have superior college resumes than Roller (including outhitting him last season, despite most of those guys playng in far less hitter-friendly home parks and playing to a tougher SoS).

    So, Brian, my brain is hurting trying to figure out all these “different factors” that you have taken in consideration, since the ONLY way Roller would be ranked ahead of these guys is if CCBL Summer performance trumps everything else on one’s resume. There is simply no other “factor” that would have Roller ranked ahead of these other players. Again, this takes nothing away from Kyle Roller, who deserves to be on anyone’s Top 25 – 35 listing heading into the season (meaning he will likely make most, if not all, preseason all-american listings)…but to have him ranked ahead of these other guys just makes no rational sense– by ANY criteria.

  • Have you seen Parker play? His is undisciplined and if he has a bad plate appearance, he shuts it down the rest of the day. (seen him play over 8 times and it happened multiple times) His mental side of things have to change if he ever is going to live up to his potential.

    Colon and his broken leg. Can he return to the same level?

    Thompson is he ever going to get anything to hit this season?

    Rendon needs to do more then show me one year of being outstanding.

    Roller has some great protection around him which is going to make him hit better.

  • BKMHOXX (Aman Reaka)

    I think Roller is high as well BUT
    thats what is fun about rankings and lists like this.

    People emphasize different things at different times. People see with their eyes, different things that may sway them one way or another. Maybe they rank a guy according to hunch? Maybe they have a man-crush on a certain player?
    I wouldnt have Roller this high either but hes a helluva hitter so i dont and wont make a huge deal about it. Cant wait to get my top 100 out there for all to see!
    Baseball is near!

    • Aman will be posting his Top 100 in four segments on this site from Feb. 8th-11th.

  • waltgreenberg

    Brian, Roller will have far less protection in his lineup this year than last. Yes, ECU will still have a very potent offense, but they’re losing Batts, Wood, Schrieber and Henderson– who combined accounted for well over 50% of the teams HR, RBI and SB production last season. Unlike last season, Roller (and Harris) will be The Man this season. Last year I believe he started the year batting #6 or #7 in the lineup, and moved up to #5 by the Second Half of the season. This year he’ll be in the cleanup spot. Let’s see how he does.

    BTW, Rendon will have even better and more experienced protection in his lineup this year.

  • BKMHOXX (Aman Reaka)

    Roller could have the same hill to climb that Tony Thompson does. No protection!
    It will all depend on how many teams decide to pitch around them and if the new lineup changes can offer up some protection for those 2 guys.

    Walt. There is zero doubt that Rendon is the best player in college baseball.
    I would guess him to be #1 next year, no doubt (unless some HS phenom pops up).

  • waltgreenberg

    Aman, I wouldn’t go quite that far re. Rendon, as his current Sophomore class is absolutely loaded with both elite position players and pitchers. It should be very interesting to see how he’s pitched to this year, though he did bat cleanup for the majority of his Freshman season. Clearly, he’s going to be pitched to very carefully, but when you’ve got Hague and Seastrunk likely hitting ahead of him, and Sultzbaugh, Mozingo and Fuda behind him, teams are going to have to pick their poison.

    BTW, I never said Roller would have no protection; just not as much as last year. For the first time in his career, Roller will be The Man in the ECU lineup. Harris, in particular, is a second stud, and Whitehead, Harrington and Avchen are all quality players (though I personally do not think Whitehead is going to put up the numbers he did in 2009)…but Batts and Wood, especially, are going to be sorely missed (for their offense, baserunning and defense), and with the departures of Henderson and Scheiber you’re down two more power bats.

  • Walt, Why would you think Whitehead isn’t going to have a better year? You can’t say that!!!

    Walt, see how I can play that same game with Rendon?

    • waltgreenberg

      No, Brian– it’s not the “same game”. Unlike fellow JUCO transfer, Sultzbaugh of Rice, Whitehead was red-hot out of the gate last season–hitting almost .500 through ECU’s soft OOC schedule, but slowing down considerably once conference play began. Don’t get me wrong, Whitehead is an outstanding player, but his conference and second half numbers pale to the inflated numbers he put up the first 5 – 6 weeks of the season, when the Pirates played almost exclusively home games against an SoS well over 100. Conversely, Sultzbaugh struggled a bit in adjusting to D-I action, but broke out early May, continued his hot hitting throughout the post-season and Summer, and into Fall Ball. Sultzbaugh has hit well over .400 since late April/early May; whereas, Whitehead’s numbers declined as the season progressed and opposing teams developed scouting reports on how best to pitch him.

      As for Rendon, how exactly can you play the same game? Rendon was the Rice cleanup hitter from early April onward, and his numbers were consistently high throughout the season, on a month-to-month basis, culminating with a great C-USA tourney (he was named tourney MVP), and great regional and a 3-4 game (including a HR) vs. Ranaudo in the Super-regionals.

  • ecubaseball

    oh so walt, its such a huge deal if rendon wins the cusa tournament MVP, but its nothing for roller to win the cape cod league MVP???? um ok :/ that makes alot of sense.

  • waltgreenberg

    ECU, Rendon not only won the 2009 C-USA POY award– the first time EVER awarded to a Freshman, but he was the unanimous selection of all nine conference coaches (including ECU’s) yesterday in being named preseason C-USA POY.

    Again, no knock on Roller, who is an outstanding college hitter and deserving of all-american honors, but he was outhit across-the-board (in every single offensive category) by Rendon last season despite Rendon playing to a tougher overall Strength of Schedule (#19 ranked vs. #40), in a less hitter-friendly home park, and as the cleanup hitter with less protection in the lineup than Roller had in 2009, when he was batting anywhere from #5 – #7 in the lineup. Rendon is unquestionably the superior baserunner and defender, and was a better hitter throughout the 2009 season.

    Yes, Roller had a great Summer…but despite Brian’s over-emphasis of everything CCBL, it was simply a Summer League; it was not D-I action.

  • You’re still crying about this, Walt?

  • purplepirate

    Im not sure if Walt is still ragging the pirates, but we are hosting UVA which is the #2 team in the nation. Saying we are over rated and all that is a personal opinion….going into todays game the series is locked up at 1-1. Before knocking a team maybe he should come at least check us out. BTW….we are also host South Carolina next weekend. Seems like a weak out of conference schedule for the opening weekends in college baseball right?…not. Maybe he is over ranked, these are projected for the end of the season, if Roller belts out 25+ HR’s this season then I say it was a pretty good projection. Lets talk this over in June.

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