Tommy Doyle Shows No Fear On The Mound
The High A California League presents an extreme challenge to pitchers, no place more so than Lancaster.
The JetHawks, who have been a Rockies affiliate for three years, have ranked last in the league each of those seasons with an ERA over 5.00 due to the challenge of pitching at their hitter-friendly, windblown home ballpark, known as The Hangar.
All of which is remarkable context for what 23-year-old Lancaster closer Tommy Doyle did last year. He recorded a 3.25 ERA in 38 games with 19 saves in 23 opportunities. Doyle allowed 24 hits in 36 innings with 13 walks and 48 strikeouts.
The Rockies invited him to big league camp.
"Pitching with those numbers in that type of environment in the highest-leveraged situation—pretty special,” farm director Zach Wilson said. "Not only did he put up the numbers, he’s got the stuff to back it up.”
Doyle’s fastball sits 95 mph and hits 97. A supplemental second-round pick out of Virginia in 2017, Doyle also throws a hard curveball that sometimes acts more like a slurve and is 80-82 mph.
"But it’s a 2-to-7 (o’clock) hard, biting downer,” Wilson said. "It’s his go-to out pitch. He’ll use it in any count, but he definitely uses it for swings and misses whenever he wants. It comes right out of the same slot as his fastball.”
Doyle has a usable 77-78 mph changeup with some fade and deploys it strategically.
"It’s more to keep them off the fastball and definitely to keep the lefties off balance,” Wilson said.
Severe back spasms caused Doyle to miss five weeks beginning in late April, but he was fine upon returning. He has an easy, efficient, repeatable delivery and a mound presence, given his imposing 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame.
"He’s a giant of a man,” Wilson said. "And his confidence was one of the biggest areas of growth in his development last year. He walks right out there wanting the ball late in the game. And he’s going right after you with no fear. That is an area where he has really taken a step forward.”
— Reliever Robert Tyler, once a hard-throwing prospect, retired. The Rockies drafted Tyler 38th overall in in 2016 out of Georgia and signed him for $1.7 million. But Tyler, 24, dealt with injuries his entire career. He had forearm and shoulder issues dating back to college and missed the entire 2017 season due to shoulder fatigue.
Last season at high Class A Lancaster, an oblique strain prevented Tyler from making his debut until June 7. He ran up a 8.16 ERA in 28 games, allowing 36 hits and 20 walks in 28.2 innings with 36 strikeouts. His velocity was 91-94 mph, well down from the 96-98 he threw at his best and had a plus changeup.
"The injuries have hit him in just about every part of his body,” Wilson said. "I think for him, physically, it wasn’t going well to the point where he wanted to continue. Completely his decision, obviously. (We) would’ve loved to have him keep going and pressing forward, but it didn’t sound like it was part of what he wanted to do anymore. And sometimes that happens.”
After pitching just seven innings in five games at Short-season Class A Boise in 2016 and missing all of 2017, Tyler reached low Class A Asheville in 2018. In 34 games there, he went posted a 3.99 ERA with 52 strikeouts and just seven walks in 38.1 innings.
Those four solid months at Asheville two years ago, gave the Rockies a snapshot of success and the hope he would pitch this year. "That was a glimpse,” Wilson said. "And I think he got tired of seeing glimpses. He was looking for more, and it just wasn’t coming physically.”
— The Rockies sold first baseman Roberto Ramos to the LG Twins in Korea. He hit .309/.400/.580 last year at Triple-A Albuquerque with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs, albeit in the Pacific Coast League where offense typically reigns and where the major league ball was used last season. But he struck out 28 percent of the time.
The Rockies drafted Ramos, 25, in the 16th round in 2014 out of the JC of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif. In his six seasons in the Rockies’ organization, Ramos hit .292/.370./527 with 98 home runs. Ramos has plus power, but the holes in his swing led to high strikeout totals that led to doubts whether he had a future in the big leagues.