15. Brenton Doyle (262 points, 18 ballots)
When Brenton Doyle was drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 draft, he represented a mystery of sorts. The 21-year-old righty outfielder, who signed for an above slot $500k, looked like a ballplayer with his 6’3”, 200 frame. He even crushed it in college, hitting .392/.502/.758 during his draft year. Still, despite those assets, Doyle wasn’t even ranked among MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects.
The reason such a player was available in the 4th round for the Rockies is because he did his damage in tiny Division II Shepherd College in West Virginia, where Major League scouting visits aren’t exactly a common occurrence. The question Doyle needed to answer in his professional debut was how he would fare against much better pitching. In 2019 in Grand Junction, he emphatically showed just what he could do against pro pitching.
Hitting at an age appropriate level with Grand Junction in the Pioneer League, Doyle’s .383/.477/.611 line in 215 plate appearances smacks you in the face with its excellence. Beyond the 22 extra base hits (8 HR), Doyle stole 17 bases in 20 chances while walking in 14.4% of PAs (he struck out in 21.9% of PAs). That’s good for an astounding 185 wRC+. Sure, Doyle’s numbers are propped up by a .484 BABIP, but it’s hard to fluke your way into that kind of production at the plate. Defensively, Doyle spent most of his time in center field but also played some in right field.
Even more exciting than the production for me were the scouting reports that flowed in once national prospect gurus finally got a chance to evaluate Doyle against more advanced pitching. He moved from outside top prospect lists entirely to pushing the top 10 of the system really quick, and with a strong full season debut, Doyle could be in the system’s top 5 by the end of 2020.
In terms of video, we’re limited to snippets of Doyle taken by (what I assume is) his family, including this snippet uploaded last year, where you can see the stooped/open stance described by BP below:
FanGraphs is the high org on Doyle, ranking him 9th in the system as a FV 40+ prospect:
Doyle was tough to learn about before the 2019 draft because while he became difficult to hide in the truest sense, nobody wanted to tip their hand as to where he was on their board, as small school players are placed with quite a bit of variability. The physical tools were obvious and pretty similar to what Dodgers prospect D.J. Peters looked like coming out of junior college. Doyle is built like an old school, run-stopping safety at a physical 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. He runs well, has power, and after the draft, against the best pitching he ever faced in his life, Doyle mashed. His ball/strike recognition and ability to spoil pitchers’ pitches were much better than we would have anticipated considering how few quality arms he had seen to that point. He has everyday physical ability and isn’t as raw as we thought he’d be.
Baseball Prospectus slotted him 11th in the org — here’s Jeffrey Paternostro on Doyle:
Doyle absolutely dominated the Mountain East Conference his junior year. It’s a bit of an unusual swing, as the tall, lanky outfielder is almost stooped over at the plate in an open stance. It’s unorthodox, but Doyle is athletic enough to make it work. He struggled some with pro spin, but overall offers a solid power/speed combo that reminds me a little bit of Brandon Marsh. Doyle’s on the raw side compared to Marsh—and he’s only six months younger—so there may be a bit of longer lead time here than your typical college outfield pick, but the rewards might be an every day outfielder, and we might find more in the tank once he gets additional pro reps under his belt.
Finally, MLB Pipeline currently has Doyle 16th on their list:
There are many tools to like about Doyle and his ability to adapt to the pro game from a smaller program provides optimism that he’ll be able to continue to bring them to his performance. He’s hit pretty much every place he’s been to go along with plus raw power to tap into from the right side. At the start of his pro career, he was swinging and missing a bit, but the adjustments he made enabled him to cut down his strikeout rate and he continued to draw walks.
Doyle’s speed allows him to be a basestealing threat and to cover ground in center, where he mostly played in his debut. Putting too much stock into a summer debut can be a mistake, but it’s hard not to be excited to see how Doyle can put his power-speed combination to use in full-season ball.
Doyle gets his highest grades on his speed (60), but ranks average or better on all the MLB Pipeline tool evaluations, with an additional 60 raw power grade from FanGraphs. It’s an enticing prospect package to be sure, and if Doyle can maintain those adjustments to keep the swing and miss in his game down against better spin, he’s a regular in the outfield with defensive utility at all three spots.
I ranked Doyle 11th on my personal ballot with a 40+ FV because I’m a believer in the tools/production combo. I’m excited to see what he can do in Asheville or Lancaster next year, and I anticipate him moving into the top 10 PuRPs at mid-season, if not higher.