Doyle happy to join young, hopeful Rockies

Tommy Doyle, the Colorado Rockies’ Compensation B draft pick, said he’s excited to be in Grand Junction and part of an organization that’s on the rise.

Tommy Doyle has switched allegiances.

“Just a little bit,” the Colorado Rockies’ Compensation B draft pick said with a laugh. “Just a tiny bit.”

Doyle, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound right-handed pitcher, grew up in Vienna, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., so he’s always been a Washington Nationals fan. And although he’ll likely always like the Nats, they’ll have to be No. 2 on his list now, especially in the National League.

“I have family in Denver, so I knew about the Rockies and watched them a little bit, but I hadn’t watched much because I’m from Washington, D.C.,” Doyle said last week after signing his contract and reporting to Grand Junction. “We saw two games there and it was really cool to see a bunch of guys there who are 22, 23.

“That’s kind of crazy, considering I’m 21. Hopefully it works out and I can be another 23-year-old to add to the organization, but you never know. They’re an organization on the rise, so it’s good to see.”

It’s not far-fetched to think Doyle could be one of those 23-year-olds pitching at Coors Field in a couple of years. He’s a big arm out of the bullpen, who recorded 17 career saves at the University of Virginia, including 14 this past spring, tied for fifth in a single season in school history.

As a freshman, after missing the first month of the season with mononucleosis, Doyle threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the NCAA playoffs, including one scoreless inning against Florida in the College World Series. The other 2 2/3 scoreless innings came in the regional championship game against USC on the way to helping the Cavaliers win the 2015 national championship.

With a four-pitch repertoire — fastball, curve, change-up and slider — Doyle reached the upper 90s this spring, and said he wants to improve his change-up this summer to keep hitters off balance.

He’ll pitch out of the bullpen this year, Bill Schmidt, the Rockies’ vice president of scouting, said on the first night of the draft.

“He’s a big-body guy with arm strength,” Schmidt said.

When the top half-dozen draft picks were in Denver, they met manager Bud Black, who especially wanted to meet “the big righty from Virginia.”

Doyle was scheduled to throw his first bullpen session on Sunday in Idaho Falls, and from that, the Grand Junction staff would start to figure out when he’ll be activated. Judging from the start the bullpen has had this season, his big arm can’t be utilized too soon.

Doyle last pitched in a game June 3, so it’s been about three weeks since he’s seen game action.

“It shouldn’t be that long, I only took those three weeks off,” Doyle said, who added he was throwing during those three weeks, just not to live hitters. “It’s been awhile. I’m ready to get after it and see what happens.”

He was a third-team All-ACC pitcher and was selected as a third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. His 14 saves this season were the 10th-most in the nation, and he finished 3-1 with a 1.87 ERA. Doyle struck out 38 and walked 10 in 33 2/3 innings and had a .228 batting average against him.

He’s been in the bullpen watching only a few Rookie-level games so far, but it only took one game for him to know what plays.

“You’ve got to execute pitches at this level, as well as any other level,” he said. “It’s good to see guys go out there and throw strikes, there weren’t too many walks (in GJ’s 13-10 loss to Idaho Falls), they earned what they got. I’m looking forward to see how well we do this season.”

He didn’t get to Grand Junction until last Thursday afternoon, took a quick tour of the stadium, met with the coaches and went through practice before settling into a seat on the bench.

He hasn’t had time to go exploring Grand Junction, but, “It’s beautiful,” he said. “Everywhere you look there are mountains, and that’s cool. If we get an off day maybe I’ll go hiking.”


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