Dock Doyle knows there is a crowd behind the plate
BROOKLYN, NY - When roster projections came out prior to the season, few expected 2008 5th round pick Dock Doyle to land in Brooklyn. Yet, he has and now he is battling for playing time. But that has not fazed Doyle who is ready to do what it takes to stay in the lineup.
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Coming in to the 2009 season no one in Brooklyn questioned whether or not Dock Doyle could hit. The 23-year old catcher warranted his fifth round selection last year having an impressive season at Kingsport, but there were question marks coming in to the year concerning his abilities as a catcher.
For Doyle, he was forced into a role he thought he had grown out of last year when he became the everyday catcher at Kingsport. Unfortunately for him, Brooklyn has a surplus of good home-grown catching talent with Centeno and Henriquez also at the position.
For Doyle, playing time behind the plate has been scarce, and for much of the season so far, rather then let his bat waste on the bench, manager Pedro Lopez has squeezed Doyle in as the team’s DH, a role he was not accustomed to coming in to this year.
“We have three quality catchers and there is no one guy right now. We are all doing a great job calling the game and we are 17-5 so there is not much to complain about,” Doyle explained. “I do a good job calling a good game, and I try and catch a good game, but hitting is my strongest.”
“I am working hard everyday. I am in the cages getting some BP early and out there doing catching drills 4 or 5 times a week,” he continued.
“DH’ing is different because a lot of guys don’t like it because when they get out they get mad and think about their at-bat until their next one,” Doyle explained. “When I get out if I get mad I just have to get over it and think about my next at-bat. I enjoy DH’ing. I have got only one thing to worry about when I am the DH and that is my hitting.”
Doyle is lucky that he has never hit a major slump in his short professional career, and that his great year last year appears to be carrying over. Skipping the usual growing pains many first year pro-ball players go through, he hit .308 with the club in Kingsport to follow up on a fine senior season where he hit .370 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs for Coastal Carolina. Last year's outstanding play even warranted him a brief stint with the Cyclones, where he picked up four hits in five games.
“He is a guy who has the ability to hit to all fields. His plate discipline is tremendous, and you know that he will go out there and play the game. He is a gamer and tremendous at what he is doing,” manager Pedro Lopez stated.
“All of my catchers will get to play. Doyle has got a strong arm and does a great job with the staff. He has some experience playing in college and I see major improvements in his catching game. Since college to where he is right now he has improved 100% behind the plate and that is why he is here in Brooklyn,” Lopez concluded.
This year he hasn’t had quite the success that may have been expected, but a .262 average is nothing to scoff at especially considering he is warming up as of late, picking up two multi-hit games in his last four to go along with his season total 10 RBIs. He was slow to start the season hitting only .235 in the month of June, but with the turn of the calendar he seems to be finding himself more and more at the plate.
“My hitting is my strongest. It maybe has not been that way as of late, but it has definitely gotten a lot better,” said Doyle.
“I started out real slow this year and I have just been working on picking it up as of late. I am not sure what it has been, but working with coach Voight and getting time in at the cages has definitely helped. I have got to get a little better at hitting the inside fastball.”
He even seems to get better with more runners on base, hitting .219 with the bases empty, .303 with runners on and .381 with runners in scoring position. It is obvious Lopez and the Cyclones will need to keep Doyle’s bat in the lineup to continue to feed off of the energy he brings to every at bat as well as the good discipline he displays while hitting.
While his hitting is what is most heralded, it would be a shame to overlook something he is extremely proud of in improving his defense, and for a guy who coming into last year had never called a game on his own, he has come a great deal from being somewhat questionable behind the plate.
“I have really improved behind the plate. I definitely got better blocking the ball behind the plate, but there is still a lot of work I need to do but that will take time and I will figure it out sooner than later.”
Unfortunately for Doyle the latter may be true. Speaking with Lopez it seems there is talk of moving him to the outfield, and that they are having him practice out there out of fear that they would lose his bat otherwise.
“I have been told to start working on some flyballs in the outfield, but whatever it is I just want to be in the lineup everyday.”
So whether it is catching, as the team’s DH, or outfielder, look for Dock Doyle to battle at the plate, and continue his fine season for the Cyclones.
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