Saints Sign Top Star From 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game, First Baseman Kyle RollerST. PAUL, MN March 22, 2017
At this rate the franchise record of 106 home runs hit last season by the St. Paul Saints will be obliterated. With Tony Thomas and Brady Shoemaker from the right side the Saints were looking for a left-handed power bat. They found him in the form of first baseman Kyle Roller, a three-time All-Star including the Top Star at the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2015, who has double-digit homers in each of the last six seasons, including 26 in 2014.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old spent 50 games with the Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A affiliate last year in Durham and hit .216 with five home runs and 12 RBI before being released. He then signed with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League and hit .284 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI in just 52 games. In 194 at bats he slugged 16 doubles, one triple, a .401 on base percentage and a .531 slugging percentage for an impressive .932 OPS. He homered in three straight games from August 27-29.
Roller was originally drafted in the 47th round of the First Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics in 2009, but he elected to return to East Carolina for his senior season. It proved to be a wise decision as the New York Yankees drafted him in the eighth round of the First Year Player Draft in 2010.
After a solid first year professionally, where Roller hit .272 with five home runs and 31 RBI in 67 games at Low-A Staten Island, he had an All-Star caliber season at Single-A Charleston in 2011. Roller hit .305 with nine home runs and 29 RBI in 50 games and was selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, his first of two mid-season All-Star selections in his career. His time with Charleston was highlighted by homering in four straight games from May 11-14, including in the final game of that stretch where he went 4-6 with three doubles, a home run and three RBI. Following the All-Star Game Roller was promoted to High-A Tampa and he hit a respectable .265 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 60 games.
Roller had a monster 2012, spending the entire season with the Tampa Yankees and being named a Post-Season All-Star and an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star. He hit .266 with 18 home runs and a career high 85 RBI in 121 games. In 418 at bats he scored 59 runs, slammed 22 doubles, five triples, a .357 on base percentage and a .471 slugging percentage. He finished third in the Florida State League, a very difficult hitters league, in home runs, HR/AB ratio (1/23.22) and tied for third in RBI. He reached base safely in 24 consecutive games from June 14-July 14 and was named Batter of the Week for the week of August 6-13, a week that started with two home runs and five RBI. Roller also impressed in the field finishing first in the league in fielding percentage by first baseman (.994) and first in assists by a first baseman (89).
In 2013 Roller spent the entire season at Double-A Trenton and hit .253 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI in 124 games. He helped lead the Thunder to the Eastern League Championship. Along with being named Batter of the Week for the week of April 15-22, Roller had a career-high 15-game hitting streak and hit safely in 23 of the first 24 games on the season, including six straight multi-hit games from April 16-21. He also reached base safely in 25 consecutive games from the first day of the season until May 1.
Roller got his first taste of Triple-A in 2014 after getting off to a blazing start in 21 games at Double-A Trenton where he hit .385 with nine home runs and 23 RBI, including homering in three straight and hitting six home runs in seven games from April 16-25. At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Roller hit .283 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI in 104 games and finished with an .875 OPS. Roller earned his second MiLB.com Organizational All-Star selection.
In his final season with the Yankees organization in 2015, Roller was invited to Major League Spring Training with the Yankees. He spent the entire year at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he hit .232 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 123 games. Roller was selected to the Triple-A All-Star Game for the International League and went 2-2, with the game tying two-run single in the eighth. He was named the Top Star of the All-Star Game. He finished the season first in the International League in intentional walks (6), fourth in walks (60) and helped his team reach the playoffs. Roller was released by the Yankees in October of that year and signed with the Rays organization on December 18.
Roller was a two year starter at East Carolina and was a 2009 First-Team All-American by ABCA/Rawlings and First-Team All-Conference. In 2010 he earned Pre-Season All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball, First-Team All-Conference and finished third in the nation in walks (61) and 14th with a .529 on base percentage. Roller ended his collegiate career first all-time in school history in hit by pitches (60), home runs (51) and walks (140), third in RBI (203), tied for fifth in games played (223), sixth in runs (181) and seventh in hits (242).
Roller was also selected as the Cape Cod League MVP in 2009, considered by many the most prodigious collegiate wood bat league in the country.
The Saints currently have 10 players signed this off-season, five position players and five pitchers.
The Saints open the 2017 season on Thursday, May 18 with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats. For more information contact the Saints at 651-644-6659 or visit saintsbaseball.com.