16. Tommy Doyle (247 points, 21 ballots)
Tommy Doyle is one of the most visible of a large crowd of high velocity bullpen arms the Rockies have cultivated over the last 4-5 years. The 6’6”, 235 righty was a second round pick in 2017 as a college reliever (an overdraft by about 100 picks, according to MLB Pipeline’s ranking at the time) and has stayed that way as a professional. He boasts a mid to upper-90s fastball paired with an above average slider—in other words, the prototypical baseball reliever profile these days.
Doyle hasn’t moved slowly per se, but prospects of that college reliever vintage tend to move faster than he has through the system. Instead, the 23-year-old has moved up a level a year, first Grand Junction, then Asheville, and High A Lancaster in 2019. Pitching at a league average age in the notorious hitter-friendly environment of Lancaster and the California League, Doyle was good when he was on the mound (he was out all of May). In 36 innings across 38 appearances, Doyle saved 19 games with a 3.25 ERA. That number undersells his effectiveness though, as Doyle had a sterling 1.03 WHIP and 12.0 K/9 rate, leading to a very strong 2.82 xFIP. In fact, on the road Doyle posted a 0.56 ERA against a 5.40 home mark: Lancaster’s tough on pitchers.
Those are good numbers to be sure, but really I would like to see Doyle challenged at a level where he is younger than league average. At least AA Hartford in 2020 will feature more advanced competition for Doyle.
Here’s some video of Doyle from mid-2018 in Asheville courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Baseball Prospectus ranks Doyle 17th in the system, albeit behind 4-5 other relievers in the org. Here’s Jeffrey Paternostro on Doyle:
Doyle was taken in the second round in 2017 as a college closer out of Virginia, but his pace through the minors has been slow-going. The stuff all checks out. He is a massive human who can run it up into the upper-90s and pairs it with a mid-80s slider that has touched 90 and can be a wipeout swing-and-miss offering when it’s on. The command is just okay, the slider rolls sometimes, there’s only a theoretical change, and plenty of effort in the delivery. There’s—you guessed it—late inning potential here, but Doyle is a bit further away than the relief-only arms ahead of him.
Likewise, Doyle is 17th in the FanGraphs system rank with a 40 FV grade:
The Rockies made Doyle their second consecutive second round college reliever pick in 2017 and after his velocity was way down just after his draft, he has since been as advertised, with a mid-90s fastball and plus slider. He probably should have been pushed to Double-A at some point last season but the Rockies have taken things slow. He has the stuff to reach Denver sometime next year, but he doesn’t have to be on the 40-man until next winter, so perhaps 2021 is more likely. He has a shot to be a set-up type.
Finally, Doyle ranks 21st on the EOY 2019 MLB Pipeline system list:
Doyle has a steadily improving power fastball-breaking ball combination, with decent arm action, a strong frame and a solid delivery. He’s been clocked up to 97 mph at times and backs it up with an 82-83 mph slider that flashes plus, missing bats with both. He flips in a below-average curveball and he does use a changeup, but he doesn’t throw it often and it’s a below-average, “show me” kind of pitch rather than a viable weapon.
The combination of an improved slider and better consistency in landing his stuff in the strike zone has raised Doyle’s profile. If he can continue along this trajectory, seeing the big right-hander continue to close games isn’t out of the question.
Doyle has the frame, power fastball with movement, and good enough secondary pitch to be an intimidating relief option for Colorado as soon as 2020, but I think his 40-man roster status (he isn’t eligible until after the season) and several similarly advanced arms already on the 40-man roster mean that Doyle’s debut probably won’t come until 2021. Instead, he’ll start the year in Hartford and might get the call up to Albuquerque if things proceed smoothly.
After not ranking Doyle on my last couple of lists, he made his way back on in 27th on my personal ballot thanks to his strong year in Lancaster with a 35+ Future Value grade as a potential MLB reliever.