Doyle gets professional start in Grand Junction
SHEPHERDSTOWN — From Kettle Run High in Warrenton, Va., where his graduation was held just three years ago to Grand Junction in Colorado, where his professional baseball debut took place just last weekend, former Shepherd outfielder and the fourth round selection of Colorado in the recent amateur draft, Brenton Doyle has quickly moved from a college prospect to signing a bonus contract that could have been worth $438,700.
Doyle left Shepherd for the largely unknown path of playing professionally in the Pioneer League, a circuit of eight teams plying their trade in that Rookie League.
Doyle’s first professional season began on June 14 on the road with the Grand Junction Rockies. In the middle of this week, the team began the home portion of its schedule at Suplizio Field, a friendly place for hitters that opened in 2012 and has dimensions similar to Doyle’s home for the past three years at Shepherd’s Fairfax Field.
It’s 315-feet to the green-painted fence down the left field foul line. The power alleys are reachable for hitters like Doyle, who had 13 home runs for the Rams in the just-completed season. And it is 315-feet down the right field line.
Bleachers crowd both foul lines and the covered stands behind home plate are usually filled with the same mixture of senior citizens, families with their children and roaming teenagers and elementary school-aged children as eager to test the food at concession stands as they are to sit quietly and watch minor league baseball.
The Rookie Pioneer League season lasts from June 14 through September 7 with a series of playoff games following from September 8 through September 15.
Doyle just turned 21 on May 14. He signed his professional contract early in the week starting June 10.
The Grand Junction roster lists five outfielders. Whereas Doyle patrolled center field for Shepherd, he is listed as the team’s lone right fielder on its roster. Doyle wore No. 22 at Shepherd and will don No. 29 for Grand Junction.
As a player with a considerable bonus, Doyle will be given generous playing time. He is an investment for the major league Rockies.
The people in player development and the major league team’s farm director will want to see if Doyle can play every day and how he holds up in the grind of minor league baseball.
Long bus rides are a certainty in the Pioneer League. Some of those bus rides come late at night after the team completes a road series and instead of staying over in the city where they just finished, the players will shower, file onto a bus and travel back to either Grand Junction or on to the next city where they will begin the next series.
Sleeping on buses becomes an art form for minor league baseball players.
Doyle could be moved to Boise in the Northwest League if upper management wants to see him play against more experienced competition. Or he could just complete his summer in Grand Junction.
It’s only been three years from high school graduation to becoming a professional player with some expectations trailing him because of his heavy bonus money.
Doyle is the most talented and most gifted baseball player Shepherd ever produced.
And now he will show his excellent foot speed, base running acumen, instincts and overall knowledge of inside baseball and fielding skills to the people connected with the Colorado Rockies and those attending Grand Junction games.