DENVER -- The sign that Rockies No. 16 prospect Brenton Doyle was making progress came at a low moment when it came to performance during Spring Training.
The Rockies optioned Doyle to Minor League camp on March 14. He was batting .286, but it was soft (.321 slugging percentage) at the time of the decision to ticket him for Triple-A Albuquerque. But Doyle made a decision that led to a strong start to the Minor League season and, according to sources, a call to the Majors for Monday’s start of a three-game series at Cleveland. [Editor's note: Doyle was called up on Monday, with infielder Elehuris Montero optioned to Triple-A.]
During a slow start at Double-A Hartford last season, Doyle made major changes by adjusting his stance and his swing path. The ideas took, and Doyle turned hot in Double-A and stayed that way during a late-season Triple-A trial.
He stayed with the adjustments during the offseason and, most importantly, was confident enough in them that he didn’t scrap them. Doyle didn’t have the impact he wanted when given a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but felt certain that he was simply adjusting to the Major League game. Even after optioning Doyle, the Rockies kept giving him chances. He relaxed, caught up the speed of the game and built a .333 average, four doubles, a triple and 11 RBIs by the time Spring Training ended.
“I had a lot of success with that swing and the feel I had with this swing,” said Doyle in an interview on Saturday – the night before sources said he was being called in for his first days in the Majors. “It would take a lot to want me to go away from it. I'm glad I didn't.”
A product of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Doyle, who turns 25 on May 14, has always fascinated those who enjoy diamond-in-the-rough stories. In real life, Doyle has big-time physical tools – size, speed and power – even if he did play Division II ball.
Doyle’s start to the Triple-A season has had plenty of success, but there were also painful moments. He crashed hard into a center-field wall chasing a fly ball on April 7 and did not play in a game for 10 days because of a bruised right knee.
But Doyle and Albuquerque hitting coach Jordan Pacheco made the most of the time. They would meet at 1:30 p.m. when the team had a night game and attack different pitches against a pitching machine that could replicate spin. Doyle’s swing and his batting eye stayed crisp. Even with 19 strikeouts, Doyle has a .404 on-base percentage.
“My relationship with Pacheco is awesome,” Doyle said. “Throughout my years, you mesh with certain people and Pacheco is one of those guys whose info I truly trust, and we have a real good feel for each other.”
Now Doyle will have a chance to test his lessons in the Majors.