Sac State baseball sparks friendship for two slugging sophomores

Josh Rolling’s and Cesar Valero’s relationship goes beyond the bases


Dominique Williams

Sophomores Cesar Valero (left) and Josh Rolling pose in a tree near the River Front Center on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Both Valero and Rolling transferred to Sac State as sophomores and have found a spot in the Hornets’ lineup.

Dylan McNeill and John Cabales

There’s nothing better than playing on the same team as your best friend; something that Sacramento State baseball players Josh Rolling and Cesar Valero have experienced this season.

After having lunch together at a local eatery, the pair said they spend almost all of their time together.

“We’re with each other all the time … on the field, off the field; it’s been cool going through this experience with [Valero],” Rolling said.

Although they grew up differently and in different countries, they followed similar paths that led to their eventual transfer to Sac State.

Valero was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela then moved to Canada when he was 10 years old. When he got to high school, he played for the Okotok Dawgs Baseball Academy in Alberta, Canada, where he was a top prospect and was ranked 112th in North America, according to Prep baseball report. 


Sophomore outfielder Cesar Valero with his embroidered glove at the grass area by Del Norte hall on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Valero leads Sac State with 13 home runs this year.
(Dominique Williams)


Valero said he was introduced to many of his current Sac State teammates while playing in Canada.

“I’ve played with almost all of them, it was nice seeing the familiar faces. Eli Saul, [Josh] Walker and [Martin Vincelli-Simard]– we all played on Team Canada together.” Valero said.

Rolling, born in Reno, Nevada, was also a top high school prospect playing for Bishop Monague where he thrived at both shortstop and pitcher. 


Sophomore hitter Josh Rolling in a tree near the River Front Center on Sacramento State’s campus on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Rolling, a Reno native, is tied for second place in runs batted in for Sac State this season.
(Dominique Williams)


After catching the eye of pro scouts while at Bishop Monague, Rolling was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 39th round in 2019 but decided not to sign.

“I ended up going [in the draft] kind of late so I didn’t think it was the best idea to sign out of high school,” Rolling said of his experience with the draft. “I actually took a nap the day of the draft and then someone sent me a screenshot I had got picked and I was like ‘oh okay.’”

Neither player played travel ball, which is uncommon for players of their caliber.

They both decided to take their talents to the Pac-12. Rolling went to UC Berkeley and Valero went to Oregon State. 

Neither player saw much time on the field, however, and they both decided to transfer eventually. Originally, Rolling said he was supposed to transfer to UC Davis but the program underwent a series of investigations that led to it being suspended.

“It was actually pretty stressful, I was playing summer ball in Virginia and then flew back to play for a team in Lincoln and that’s where Reggie and all the coaches came to see me play,” Rolling said. 

They both went on to transfer to Sac State and put their trust in manager Reggie Christiansen, who they said was a great influence on them as players and as people. The duo finished each other’s sentences when talking about their coach.

“He’s helped me become a better person, a smarter baseball player, a better student– he’s been awesome,” Rolling said. 

Valero added that Christiansen is one of his favorite coaches that he’s had.

“He does a good job of communicating with the players and just trying to develop them not just as a player, but trying to just figure out what’s going on in their mind and try to develop them as a man as well,” Valero said.

Valero and Rolling said they felt welcomed not only by the coaching staff but their fellow players from the jump. The team has a good mix of talent and leadership, according to them. 

“We both came here in similar situations, Rolling said. “Last year, we both transferred so this is both of our first Div. 1 season, where most kids our age this is their third year.” 

Even though they both said they feel like this is their first actual season playing college baseball, Valero and Rolling said they are ready to make an impact on Sac State’s team.

Valero has 13 home runs, which leads Sac State along with a .606 slugging percentage. Rolling has six home runs and a .462 slugging percentage.

Christiansen said he is proud of where Rolling has gotten in his career and hopes to see more from him in the future.

“He’s a great kid– has high expectations for himself,” Christiansen said. “Sometimes he gets down on himself a little too much when things don’t go his way but I am proud of what he has done throughout the season both physically and mentally,” 

Christiansen first saw Valero at 16 years old when he played at the Toronto Blue Jays’ stadium, the Rogers Centre, while Christiansen was out recruiting Eli Saul.

“We’re just really lucky to have him here. Not just as a baseball player: awesome kid, great energy, he’s just a really good guy to have on your roster.” Christiansen said.

The Hornets have had an up and down season but are currently at 27-23 on the season and 16-13 in the Western Athletic Conference which currently has them sitting in third.