12. Brenton Doyle (245 points, 13 ballots)
Brenton Doyle sure looks the part. The 22-year-old righty outfielder, who signed for an above slot $500k as Colorado’s fourth round pick in 2019, boasts a 6’3”, 200 frame with plus athleticism that is more reminiscent of a football player. He 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 fourth 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. That was good enough for the Pioneer League batting title, plus a second place finish in OBP and third in OPS. Beyond the 22 extra base hits (8 HR), Doyle stole 17 bases (3rd in the league) 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 in 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 2021.
Doyle didn’t see any formal game action until fall instructs in 2020, but he certainly caught the eye of assistant GM for Player Development Zach Wilson when he was there:
“His body is in great shape and it’s playing out that way on the field. He’s spraying the ball all over the place, he has easy raw power. It’s a different sound off of his bat. He’s a 55-60 runner, he can play every outfield position — he’s played mostly right field here — and he easily has a 65 arm. He’s screaming Major League player.”
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 Doyle’s stooped/open stance:
In their pre-2021 system update, Baseball Prospectus ranked Doyle 7th in the system:
Doyle was a potential breakout prospect for 2020. He has tools, athleticism, physicality, and a relatively inexperienced background to make it all dangerous enough to cause trouble. He still has all that, and we are moving him up based on the upside he offers relative to other players who lack those tools. Everything you want he has: power, arm strength, above-average speed, outfield instincts; he just has not been consistently tested against better players yet.
Fangraphs ranked Doyle 9th in their pre-2020 list as a 40+ FV 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.
MLB.com ranks Doyle 13th in the system:
Doyle has pretty much every tool in the toolbox and he surprised many by adapting so quickly to the pro game from a smaller program, giving confidence he’ll keep doing that as he moves up the ladder. He’s always hit, with plus raw power from the right side of the plate. There’s a little swing and miss to his game, but he made very good adjustments during his debut and cut his K rate down in the second half considerably. He drew a lot of walks and ended up leading the league in on-base percentage.
Doyle’s plus speed was also on display as he showed he is an effective basestealer and can cover a lot of ground in center field, and he also showed an ability to handle an outfield corner if needed.
That evaluation is headlined by plus (60) speed, with the other four tools coming in at 50-55. The Fangraphs evaluation also gives him a 60 raw power grade. Basically the biggest flaw evaluators can find on Doyle is his lack of repetitions. It’s an enticing prospect package to be sure. If Doyle can maintain those adjustments to keep the swing and miss in his game down against better spin, he’s a MLB regular in the outfield with defensive utility at all three spots.
I ranked Doyle 8th on my personal ballot with a 40+ FV because I’m a believer in the tools/production combo and he is one of the few prospects in this system who has star potential. I’m excited to see what he can do in full-season ball next year (it could be either Low- or High-A to start 2021), and I anticipate him moving into the Top 10 PuRPs at mid-season, if not higher.