20. Tommy Doyle (118 points, 12 ballots)
Tommy Doyle is another pitcher who many Rockies fans saw for the first time in a big league relief cameo in 2020, the third such pitcher already on this PuRPs list. Like the other two (José Mujica and Antonio Santos), Doyle didn’t make a great first impression. He allowed six runs on six hits and four walks in 2 1⁄3 innings in three appearances — all coming during the last week of the abbreviated 2020 season.
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 (70th overall) 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.
Prior to his 2020 fast-track to the big leagues, Doyle didn’t move slowly per se, but prospects of that college reliever vintage tend to move faster than he did through the system. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, Doyle moved one step up the minor league ladder at a time, going from Grand Junction to Asheville to Lancaster. 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.
Of course, 2020 meant that there was no Double-A or Triple-A for Doyle to pitch in. The Rockies put Doyle at their alternative site and added him to their 40-man roster in time for the final week of the season. The aforementioned three-appearance debut didn’t give Doyle a nice ERA (23.14) or rWAR (-0.2), but it did give him a taste of The Show.
Here’s some video of Doyle from mid-2018 in Asheville courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
Baseball Prospectus ranked Doyle 17th in the system before 2020, 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 18th on the pre-2020 MLB Pipeline system list:
The 6-foot-6 Doyle is imposing on the mound and does an excellent job using his size to create good downhill plane. He’s aggressive with his fastball that sits 96 mph and touches 98 at times, filling the strike zone with it. He can miss bats with it while also getting ground-ball outs. He complements his plus heater with a hard slurvy breaking ball that is a wipeout pitch to right-handed hitters and that he can use to back-foot lefties. He doesn’t use his changeup much, but he can be sneaky good with it.
Doyle has done a nice job of throwing strikes, especially given his size and power repertoire. All he needs is some upper-level experience and he should be ready to impact a big league bullpen soon.
Doyle has the frame, power fastball with movement, and good enough secondary pitch to be an intimidating relief option for Colorado sometime in 2021. I think though that with the plethora of similar relief arm options the Rockies possess, Doyle will probably start the year in Triple-A or even Double-A. Though I don’t love the ceiling or the limited role utility, Doyle’s proximity and likelihood of contributing major league value led me to rank him 28th on my personal ballot with a 35+ Future Value grade.