We are just a few days removed from the mistletoe, candy canes, and of course the presents. The good times we had with friends and family over the past week are still fresh in our minds. For me, I emerge from this Christmas season another year older and trying to shake off a persistent cold that really took hold of on Christmas Eve (happy birthday to me).
In just a few more days, we will embark upon the journey that is 2011. Once January arrives I can once again start to imagine the words “pitchers and catchers report” being said, read, and typed across this great country of ours. Soon (but not soon enough) the 2011 version of Spring Training will be underway.
Opening Day can’t come soon enough, but since my goal was to have recapped all 200 of Baseball America’s pre-2010 draft prospects by that glorious moment in time I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then. Next up on the list is …
143. RHP Bobby Doran (21), Texas Tech University
Doran was selected in the 36th round of the 2009 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. At that time he was coming off his second season pitching for Seward County CC* in Kansas.
*Located in Liberal, Kansas, SCCC wears the title of “33rd best community college in the nation” with a great deal of pride. If you don’t believe me check their website.
In addition to being a Pirates draft pick in 2009, he was ranked as the best pitching prospect (and 2nd best prospect overall) in the Jayhawk League that summer by Baseball America. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they were unable to sign him and he elected to take his talents to Texas Tech University. Last season Doran led the team’s pitching staff with a 4.35 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 23 BB and 81 in 89.0 innings of work. 13 of his 16 appearances on the year were starts for the 28-29 Red Raiders.
The Houston Astros selected Bobby Doran in the 4th round of the 2010. He was the 123rd player selected in 2010 after being the 1075th player taken in 2009. We can’t say for sure since we can’t play out the “what would have happened if he signed with the Pirates” game but it’s pretty safe to assume that spending a year at Texas Tech, getting an education and moving up 952 slots in the draft made it a decision all-around. The $236,700 signing bonus that the Astros gave him certainly doesn’t hurt that assumption.
After signing on June 10th, the Astros sent Doran to pitch the Tri-City Valley Cats (A-) in the New York-Penn League. He made 15 appearances (all starts) and finished with a 4.67 ERA,1.32 WHIP, 50 SO, and just 9 BB in 71.1 innings of work. The stats don’t jump off the page at you and all in all it wasn’t the greatest debut season for the Oklahoma City native. There were some encouraging signs including his performance during the month of August (6 starts) when he posted the following line: 33.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 33 H, 0 HR, 3 BB, 25 SO.
At 6’6″ and 230-240 lbs he’s got a big frame to work with but his athleticism and easy delivery allow him to throw strikes. As evidenced by his 5.56 SO/BB rate, Doran has excellent command of his low-90s fastball and the pitch has some natural sink to it allowing him to get groundball outs. He has a late breaking curveball he can throw in the upper 70s and a reasonably effective changeup that rounds out his arsenal.
With his size and already above-average fastball command, he’s got a chance to be a back of the rotation innings eater. With some mechanical tweaks and instruction he should be able to add a bit more velocity to his fastball which was topping out at about 94 prior to the draft. If he can add that velocity and maintain the natural movement of the pitch he could turn into a viable #3 starter. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats currently, but his curve and changeup are both legitimate offerings that would be augmented with an improved fastball. Doran strikes me as the type of guy who could take a big step forward in 2011.
In my book he’s a #3 at best (and that is optimistic) and a middle reliever at worst, but either way I think he makes it to the major leagues with the Astros if he stays healthy.