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Archive for Wednesday, June 5, 1996

DODGERS DRAFT ROLLS IN FIRST ROUND

June 5, 1996

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Arguably one of the best, and certainly the most ballyhooed, high school player ever to sign a letter of intent with Kansas University's baseball team might never suit up for the Jayhawks.

Damian Rolls, a third baseman from Kansas City Schlagle High who signed with Kansas earlier this spring, was drafted in the first round of the amateur baseball draft on Tuesday.

He was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 23rd overall pick and now must decide whether to come to KU on a baseball scholarship or accept a six-figure signing bonus from the Dodgers.

"I'm considering it, yes," said Rolls, who played summer ball last year with the Lawrence Rebels traveling team. "I'm very interested. I'm really happy. I couldn't be happier with the organization. But I'm going to weigh the pros and cons and make the best decision for me."

It might appear a no-brainer -- Rolls can expect a signing bonus of at least $500,000 -- but Rolls stressed that money wasn't the only consideration.

"That's a part of it," Rolls said. "A lot of it comes down to my education. I need my education. There's a lot of deciding factors for me. My parents and me are going to sit down and make the right decision."

If they ask KU coach Bobby Randall's advice, he might be at a loss.

"I don't know if the University of Kansas has ever signed a first-round pick," Randall said. "I know I haven't. ... If it was my son, I don't care if he's the first pick, he's going to college. But I've never been faced with that. I don't know what I'd do."

Rolls, projected before his senior season to be drafted in the first 20 rounds, saw his stock soar in the month before the draft.

He hit .512 as a senior with four home runs and 18 RBIs and was listed as the 46th-best player overall by Baseball America.

"When we thought he'd go in the top 10 rounds, it was a no-brainer. He was playing for KU," Damian's father, Al Rolls, said. "It was a shock. Never would we have figured this at this time last year. We thought maybe he'd go in the first three rounds. One of the things we decided was, we weren't going to get high expectations. None of us stayed home today. I went to work, my wife went to work and Damian went to the mall. If we would have known he'd go that fast, we would have been here."

Al Rolls stressed that the decision whether to sign or come to KU has not been made.

"We've got mixed emotions," Al Rolls said. "We love KU. We don't know what's going to happen. Our intention always was that he was going to KU. He has to look forward to his future. If the Dodgers think enough of you to draft you first, that says something. But if KU offers you a baseball scholarship, that says something, too."

Rolls isn't KU's only draft prospect. Blue Springs, Mo., Tri-Christian High senior Jimmy Terrell, a shortstop who signed with KU this spring, reportedly also was drafted on Tuesday, but the round and team were unknown. And KU senior-to-be Isaac Byrd, a baseball center fielder and football wide recevier, said late Tuesday night that he hadn't been contacted.

The draft runs through Thursday.

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