Looking Back at Scott Rolen's Time with the R-Phils
(Reading, PA) - Before Tuesday night's Hall of Fame announcement, the resume for Scott Rolen was already an impressive one. Seven-time All Star, Rookie of the Year, World Champion, eight-time Gold Glove winner and now soon to be enshrined in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. Rolen was the lone
(Reading, PA) - Before Tuesday night's Hall of Fame announcement, the resume for Scott Rolen was already an impressive one. Seven-time All Star, Rookie of the Year, World Champion, eight-time Gold Glove winner and now soon to be enshrined in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Rolen was the lone inductee on the 2023 BBWAA ballot, receiving just over 76% of the needed 75% of votes to now be enshrined in Cooperstown. Joining Rolen will be Fred McGriff, who was also elected back in December. But, before Rolen started picking up big-league accolades, initially with the Philadelphia Phillies, he was one of the best to wear an R-Phils uniform.
"In addition to being a wonderful baseball player, Scott Rolen was one of the finest young men ever to come through Baseballtown," said R-Phils General Manager Scott Hunsicker. "Reading fans will always remember his hard-nosed, hustle attitude, and the friendly way he interacted with fans young and old. We are so happy that he has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame."
After being drafted by the Phillies in the second-round of the 1993 MLB Draft, Rolen quickly ascended through the Phillies minor-league system to Reading. He made his debut with the R-Phils in 1995 and spent parts of the '95 and 1996 seasons in Reading. After playing 66 games for Clearwater, Rolen went on to finish '95 by playing in 20 games for the R-Phils.
Over the remainder of the '95 season, Rolen impressed. He hit .290, while also adding three home runs and 15 RBI in just 76 at bats. Rolen also contributed to Reading's Eastern League Championship at the conclusion of the '95 campaign. But, it was in 1996 when Rolen cemented his legacy in Baseballtown. Over the course of 61 games, Rolen hit .361 and added nine home runs and 42 RBI. Additionally, he contributed 33 extra-base hits during that season before getting called up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His 22 doubles tied for the team lead that season as well.
Steve Degler was the voice of the R-Phils during Rolen's time in Reading and high remarks about the now Hall of Famer.
"As great of a player he was, Rolen was an even better person," Degler said. "He had a midwestern politeness to him and when on the field, Rolen was all business."
Rolen's .361 average in 1996 would be good for the R-Phils team record, which currently sits at .349, but Rolen did not have enough plate appearances during the '96 season to qualify for the mark. After a quick stint in Triple-A, Rolen made his big-league debut late in the 1996 season. After an impressive 1997 season with the Phillies, Rolen was named NL Rookie of the Year.
Defense was always something Rolen took a lot of pride in. He owned a .968 fielding percentage in his big-league career, while also impressing with the glove in Reading. In both season's with the R-Phils, Rolen's fielding percentage was north of .930. Rolen credits former Phillies coach John Vukovich for helping him become the defender he was.
"Rolen could impact the game in so many ways," Degler said. "It was hitting, baserunning, fielding and you expected him to do something sensational every game. That's how talented he was."
His big-league career would eventually span from 1996-2012. Rolen spent parts of seven season with Philadelphia before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. After parts of six seasons with St. Louis, Rolen finished off his career with stops with the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds. Overall, he finished his career with a .281 batting average and added 316 career home runs.
Following his retirement, many organizations recognized Rolen for his success. Reading joined that list in 2015 when Rolen was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame. He joined both R-Phils and Phillies legends in being recognized in Baseballtown forever.
He credits his time within the Phillies Minor-League for shaping him into the player was. Rolen cited the Phillies "hands-off" approach for allowing him to flourish. Additionally, the way the organization challenged him to be aggressive and not being afraid to make mistakes. The basis of Rolen's game in the Minors was baserunning and defense, and that is something he took with him during his big-league career. Now, it'll be something Rolen takes with him to Cooperstown, as he is enshrined in baseball immortality.