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Meet Sean Doolittle
Posted By Josh Muller On Jun 15 2012 @ 3:54 am In Oakland A's | 2 Comments
I know I said in a couple of weeks time, we’d have a better idea of where the A’s  would be at the end of the year, and of course, during that time virtually nothing has changed. Oakland is still 8 games back of first, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon McCarthy are out with what will hopefully be minor injuries, and the wins (and losses) are coming in bunches. The A’s took three out of four from the mighty Texas Rangers  but were then swept by Arizona , and as I’m writing this article they have completed the sweep of Colorado . A little consistency would be nice.
On the bright side, the offense seems to be heating up. Seth Smith is crushing the ball over the last ten games or so. Coco Crisp and Jemile Weeks are finally starting to get on base and are now wreaking havoc once there. And Brandon Moss, after being called up to replace Kila Ka’aihue about a week ago, has five homers and a two doubles already. Even though it was in Colorado, the A’s scored 26 runs during the series with the Rockies. And this is all without Cespedes.
But, seeing as the A’s sit in almost the same spot in the standings as they were a week or so ago, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about a former top prospect.
Meet Sean Doolittle: Perhaps the best Oakland A’s story so far this season has been that of Sean Doolittle, the most recent addition to the A’s bullpen. The 6’3” hard throwing left-hander, was drafted by the A’s in the compensation round of the 2007 draft… as a first baseman.
Doolittle possessed a solid set of skills and was expected to hit above average with above average power and elite first base defense in his prime. This was also right around the same time period where Chris Carter and Daric Barton were at the height of the prospect luster (which seems funny to say now but they were both once highly touted.) I myself, preferred Doolittle to the other two, but a series of knee and wrist injuries derailed his development.
As a result Doolittle missed more than two years of playing time. The frustration, both for the A’s and for Doolittle was such he and the team decided to give him a shot on the mound.
Many baseball prospects coming out of college or high school are scouted as “two-way” players, meaning they can pitch and hit. It’s rare to see a prospect convert one way or the other and even rarer that the conversion will be successful.
Doolittle pitched for the first time since college last year, at the very end of the season, in short season ball. He then was assigned to High-A Stockton out of spring training this year. As I’ve mentioned before, Stockton is in the California League, a notorious hitter-friendly league, and I figured this would be the last we would hear of Doolittle. Thankfully, I was wrong… by a long way.
Doolittle dominated early and often, seemingly striking out every batter he faced (which in reality is only a slight exaggeration.) He did the same after being promoted to both Double and Triple A. So much so that the A’s couldn’t afford to keep him in the minors and after five seasons, several career altering injuries, and climbing the minor league latter for the second time, Sean Doolittle finally got his call to the big leagues.
He found out after he heard a knock on his motel room door. Thinking it was the pizza he had just ordered, he was surprised to see his minor league coach at the door coming to tell him he had got the call. I can’t imagine the relief/joy/pride Doolittle must have felt after all he’d been through.
Since being called up he has continued his impossible run; he’s struck out ten batters in five innings. He did have an outing where he gave up a couple runs, but has been virtually unhittable otherwise. In one outing he retired all six batters he faced, striking out five in a row.
Scouts say he has a live fastball and a deceptive delivery, which at the very least will allow him to be a lefty specialist for years to come. And as the say, if you’re a left-handed pitcher and have a pulse, someone will pick you up.
This is an incredible story and I couldn’t be happier for Doolittle and his supporters. I hope his success continues for the Green and Gold and it seems that it will.
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