27. Tommy Doyle (179 points, 23 ballots)
Tommy Doyle represents the first pitcher revealed so far on this edition of the Purple Row Prospects list and he is the first of a large number of relief arms (whether in the pen now or destined to be there) that will appear on this ranking. This is a result, to an extent, of a large amount of high round picks spent by Jeff Bridich and company on pitchers who were either relievers in college or destined to become them in the pros (Doyle was a 2nd rounder in 2017 that signed for slot money despite Baseball America ranking him 136th overall pre-draft while MLB.com had him 168th). While this strikes me as an unwise expenditure of draft capital on low ceiling prospects, this strategy has left the Rockies with a surfeit of potential impact relief arms — including some like Rayan Gonzalez who didn’t even receive a PuRPs vote this time around.
With a strong 2018 campaign in his full season debut, Doyle joined that relief prospect crew in results as well as pedigree after struggling with Grand Junction in 2017 in a 21 inning sample (5.14 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 4.3 BB/9). In Low A Asheville in 2018 against age appropriate competition, the 6’6”, 235 pound righty showed the stuff that got him drafted highly. Doyle pitched 58 1⁄3 innings, in which he posted a 2.31 ERA (2.42 FIP), 1.10 WHIP, 10.2 K/9 rate, and 1.9 BB/9 rate as well as 18 saves. Even more encouraging was the fact that in the second half of the year, Doyle dominated with 29 1⁄3 innings in which he allowed just 3 earned runs (0.92 ERA) on 15 hits (.150 BAA) and 6 walks (0.72 WHIP) while striking out 32.
Despite his high round draft status, Doyle until recently hadn’t been considered a prospect of note by national writers. Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball had a report on Doyle from May 2018, the conclusion of which was:
Advanced two-pitch mix that flashes plus, could move quickly through the system. Ceiling of above-avg bullpen piece; good 8th inning type who could close for some teams.
McInturff also provided video of Doyle from June 2018:
Meanwhile, Doyle just sneaks onto MLB.com’s current system ranking at number 30:
Doyle relied heavily on his slider with the Cavaliers, but Colorado has had him use his fastball more often and he now operates at 94-96 mph and tops out at 98, up about 3 mph from his college days. His heater stands out more for its plane, the product of his 6-foot-6 frame, than its life. His slider is still a weapon, arriving in the mid-80s with two-plane break.
Though he has a durable build and can show a decent changeup, the Rockies have no plans to try Doyle as a starter, a role he filled briefly at Virginia. He’s doing a better job of throwing strikes and locating his pitches now that he’s gotten acclimated to pro ball. If he keeps this up, he could be a seventh-inning reliever or possibly more in Colorado.
Doyle’s top grade is reserved for his fastball (65) but his slider (55) is also an asset. The 22-year old has the frame, power fastball with movement, and good enough secondary pitch to be an intimidating relief option for Colorado. That’s especially true if he can replicate that success at a higher level in 2019, presumably in High A Lancaster.
Doyle has a crowded field of arms ahead of him to best before a big league role awaits, but I still expect him to be one of the 2017 draft’s first prospects to make the Show, perhaps even as early as 2020. Doyle was given strong consideration by me in my personal ballot, but ultimately I chose some non-relievers instead, though he shares the 35+ future value designation of several prospects on the bottom of my list as a potential MLB reliever.