'This is the real one': Doyle's 3 hits among several MLB firsts

Rockies prospect gets official ball after being denied by replay in opener vs. Guardians

April 26th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- Rockies rookie  showed up at Progressive Field on Tuesday with a special/not special baseball in his locker in the visiting clubhouse.

“It’s a great story, but probably not great value,” said Doyle, who thought he had gotten his first hit in his Major League debut on Monday, only to have it overturned after a replay review.

Given how Doyle performed in Tuesday night’s 5-1 victory over the Guardians, the rest of the story could be quite a page-turner.

Doyle’s three hits, including a double for his first RBI, and two stolen bases helped the Rockies (8-17) to a second straight victory over Cleveland, and therefore, their first series triumph of 2023.

The infield-dirt-smudged baseball from his first hit -- in the second inning off Guardians starter Peyton Battenfield with a 103.9 mph exit velocity that defied shortstop Amed Rosario’s self-defensive backhand try -- was in Doyle’s possession afterward.

“This is the real one,” Doyle said. “I guess I just spun it a little bit, so it was a tougher play for the shortstop. It was nice to get it out of the way the first at-bat, too.”

Tuesday’s victory, on the heels of Monday’s 6-0 win, had stars beyond Doyle.

Charlie Blackmon, on the other end of the experience scale from Doyle, opened the game with his 40th leadoff homer (ninth all-time in MLB history) and scored two runs to tie Larry Walker for second on the club’s list with 892 (behind Todd Helton’s 1,401).

Righty Ryan Feltner fanned six in six innings and yielded one unearned run. After his own poor start to this season, Feltner has gone 11 2/3 innings without an earned run in his last two starts and he lowered his ERA from 8.78 to 4.68.

Doyle, though, just might represent the beginning of the change to which the Rockies are committed.

Colorado has quietly built a group of solid position-player prospects. But beyond shortstop Ezequiel Tovar -- who is undergoing the growing pains of a 21-year-old who spent just nine games with Triple-A Albuquerque -- none of them began this season in the Majors.

Doyle, who turns 25 on May 14, is ranked as the Rockies' No. 16 prospect by MLB Pipeline. But given his ability to play center field and his intriguing power-speed combination, he was considered one of the players closest to the Majors.

Doyle’s recall from Triple-A was slowed because he missed 10 days earlier this month with a bruised right knee, which resulted from running into the fence for a fly ball. He was not supposed to be the first to arrive from the current wave.

Corner bat Nolan Jones, who was obtained in an offseason trade with the Guardians, figured to be the first of the new wave to impact the Rockies when he was called up earlier this month. But in a strange quirk, he was on the team for three games but didn’t see any action. Jones’ strong start, however, figures to make him a candidate to make an impact.

Doyle has at least given the Rockies a preview of prospects that should arrive at some point.

Colorado had a grand total of two steals this season entering Tuesday before Doyle matched the previous total, and Alan Trejo added another swipe. Doyle’s double, off Cleveland reliever Enyel De Los Santos in the sixth, was a 105 mph screamer off the left-center-field wall that drove in a run and previewed potential power.

“I think we have power that hasn’t really materialized -- it’s still early in the season,” manager Bud Black said. “To have that element of speed -- he brings the power element, too -- that’s a different type of addition to an offense.

“We needed a little spark, and he was able to provide that with the stolen base. One guy can put pressure on the opponent … it would be nice to have a couple more, but that’s not our roster.”

Blackmon said, “He’s got some real tools -- real bat speed, real foot speed, he’s got a good arm. He can do a lot of things. He’s certainly passing the eye test.”

A fourth-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Doyle went through a major swing overhaul last season before finishing strong at Double-A Hartford and Albuquerque to earn a 40-man Major League roster spot.

Doyle said the promotion to the Major League roster served as reinforcement that he was headed in the right direction, and that his opportunity was nearing.

“I’m always pretty relaxed, honestly,” Doyle said. “But when I got that phone call from [player development director] Chris Forbes that I was getting put on the 40-man, it was awesome. I had a little idea that there was a possibility, and he made it into reality with that phone call.”

Now, Doyle has a chance to provide more answers, with the knowledge that there are more prospects behind him.