From Uber to Class A to Twins for pitcher

Twins' No. 3 prospect Graterol activated by Double-A Pensacola

August 10th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- When you search Randy Dobnak's name on Google, his LinkedIn profile pops up: "Randy Dobnak -- Professional Driver -- Uber." In his Twitter bio, he proudly boasts about his 4.99 out of 5 rating as a driver when he last drove during Spring Training.

"I have all five stars except for one," Dobnak said. "I have one four-star. I’m hoping it was a mistake. I don’t remember doing anything bad. ... I wish I knew. I wish I could find that person and just ask them why."

Perhaps his first Major League callup will help ease that pain.

Dobnak completed an improbable journey from Class A Advanced Fort Myers to the Major Leagues in 2019, an odyssey that actually began in rural West Virginia two years ago, when he went undrafted out of Division II Alderson-Broaddus University, and came complete when he arrived at Target Field late Thursday afternoon and made it into his first Major League game on Friday.

Dobnak allowed six hits after taking over in the sixth inning of the Twins' 6-2 loss to the Indians on Friday night, but several timely strikeouts and ground balls allowed him to escape unscathed in four scoreless innings as part of a 68-pitch outing.

"He was very, very composed," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He went out and continued to make good pitches in a couple of tough spots, but found his way out of them. The kind of pitcher that he is, with the fastball that he throws, is going to generate some ground balls and he has the opportunity to get out of some innings by throwing a ground ball, which he did."

The Twins selected Dobnak's contract from Triple-A Rochester on Thursday to provide length out of the shorthanded seven-man bullpen after Kohl Stewart was optioned back to Triple-A Rochester following a 46-pitch relief appearance in Wednesday's series finale against the Braves.

"We've heard his name, and a little bit of the backstory and things like that, probably having a little bit more serious conversations, baseball-wise, about him over the last couple of weeks," Baldelli said. "He's stepped up and put himself on the map and made himself an option for us."

Dobnak posted an 11-3 record and a 2.02 ERA in 22 games -- including 19 starts -- across three Minor League levels this season, including a 2.00 ERA in seven Triple-A contests over two stints with Rochester. That quick rise has been fueled by a new sinker -- which he now throws half the time -- that he added to his arsenal towards the end of last season at the suggestion of Class A Cedar Rapids pitching coach Justin Willard.

"I think that's really been a career-changer for me," Dobnak said. "I started throwing that towards the end of last year, and this year, with all the numbers and stuff that we have now, I went crazy with it. They love it. I love it. And it's been working for me."

Two years ago, after going undrafted following his graduation from Alderson-Broaddus, he played in the obscure, four-team United Shore Professional Baseball League in the suburbs of Detroit and gave himself one or two years before he would call it quits and possibly use his accounting degree.

He did catch the eye of the Twins, who signed him as an undrafted free agent, but he could never have foreseen his rapid movement through the organization. For that matter, neither could his fiancee, Aerial, and because of that, the 24-year-old could now find himself struggling with his planned Sept. 28 wedding date.

"She's understanding of the whole situation," Dobnak said. "When we first picked the date, I was like, 'You might want to maybe look in October or something like that. Maybe something happens. And she's like, 'Nah, I think it will be fine.'"

Hopefully, achieving his Major League dream will make the headache worth it.

"I think everyone can hear something like that, and find it really cool and be extremely happy for someone and think you never know how things are going to work out or play out," Baldelli said. "There are a lot of guys in our clubhouse that come from all over the place, that have completely different backgrounds, but when you hear something so unique like this, it makes you say, 'Wow,' and it puts a smile on your face."

Graterol completes rehab assignment, returns to Double-A Pensacola

Right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol completed a two-game rehab assignment with the Rookie League Gulf Coast League Twins and was activated off the 7-day injured list by Double-A Pensacola on Wednesday. Graterol is the top pitching prospect in the Twins' organization and No. 58 prospect overall in MLB Pipeline's top 100.

Graterol had been sidelined with a right shoulder impingement since late May, but still touched 101 mph with his fastball in three scoreless frames during his rehab assignment -- he struck out four batters without recording a walk. He had been 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings for Pensacola before the injury.

Because of how late it is in the Minor League season, Graterol will likely not be stretched completely out as a starter again this season, and he is initially expected to pitch shorter outings that could gradually lengthen. According to a source, Graterol remains an option to join the Twins' bullpen before the end of the regular season, but that will depend on his health and performance in his return to regular action.