After stellar first pro season, Doyle readies for the 2021 summer
SHEPHERDSTOWN — After outfielder Brenton Doyle finished off his rousing entry season into professional baseball in 2019 by hitting about .460 in August and then over .600 in five playoff games for Grand Junction in the Pioneer League, the parent Colorado Rockies could be excused for gushing over his “Mile High” future in the National League.
Doyle had been scouted during the whole of his 2019 season at Shepherd. Even as a sometimes overlooked prospect at NCAA Division II Shepherd, Doyle was selected in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft in June 2019.
After signing his first professional contract for $500,000, Doyle was sent to the Pioneer League in Grand Junction, Colo. to begin his play-for-pay professional career.
Colorado liked his athletic body (6-foot-3, 198 pounds) and his refined skills, even as a 22-year-old. He could outrun most of his peers, and his “baseball instincts” and willingness to learn from his coaches was rarely seen in athletes generally used to doing things their own way.
So when Doyle (Kettle Run High School in Virginia) made an auspicious, first professional splash with a .383 batting average in 215 plate appearances, it brought satisfied smiles to the faces of Colorado’s administrators.
Doyle’s batting average was the highest in the Pioneer League for the 2019 season. His sturdy total of walks/hit batting stats gave him the league leadership in on-base percentage.
Additional to his high-quality batting average, he hit eight home runs and stole 17 bases in 20 attempts.
Doyle’s “power numbers” might have been even a little glossier had he not missed three weeks of the season when a freakish incident caused him to be sidelined. Stationed on his dugout while a teammate was at bat, Doyle was hit in the face, with a line drive off the hitter’s bat that fractured some small bones in his face.
While unable to play, Doyle and his instructors adjusted his stance and swing just slightly, and he returned to action with a more upright stance and a less wide-arcing swing.
When there wasn’t any Minor League Baseball played in the spring/summer of 2020, the Rockies waited until the fall and sent Doyle off to Arizona for a lesson-filled stint in an instructional league. Colorado had 39 players on that “fall league” team and 21 of them were pitchers, only four other outfielders joined Doyle on that team.
It was a five-week league and the players were all living in a “bubble atmosphere” in an attempt to keep them safe in today’s coronavirus world.
Besides his athletic baseball skills and learning acumen, Doyle’s top-level positioning in the 2019 draft gives him a leg up in the “political environment” that still prevails in professional baseball. His $500,000 bonus signing makes him an “investment” that Colorado will want to reap benefits from in all ways “business.”
Doyle will most likely start the 2021 season at either “high” Class A or “low” Class A. Major League franchises are now restricted to only four Minor League teams. All franchises have a high Class A, a low Class A, a AA and a AAA team in the far-flung minor leagues.
Doyle’s offensive prowess may be outshined by his running speed, defensive skills and can’t-teach baseball instincts and acquired knowledge of just how to play the game and what is coming next in any game situation.
By being a “student of the game,” his advancement rate toward the major leagues is enhanced and speeded along.
There may not be another .383 batting in his future, but he might be stationed on Colorado’s big league roster by 2024.