Dollander hones first pro start jitters, spins five no-hit frames at High-A

April 6th, 2024

After pitching a quick inning during the inaugural MLB Spring Breakout last month, Rockies No. 2 prospect Chase Dollander was eager to return to the bump and officially start his career in professional baseball.

Dollander didn’t let his excitement overtake him as he twirled five hitless innings, striking out eight batters during a 4-2 High-A Spokane victory at Avista Stadium over Vancouver on Friday night.

The 2023 No. 9 overall Draft pick rarely ran into trouble in his dazzling outing, as he recorded three 1-2-3 innings, issuing just three walks.

“I started feeling super excited probably a week out and I was like, 'Alright, you know, I can't get too amped up about it just yet,'” Dollander said. “So it was hard for me to kind of contain that excitement and that adrenaline rush … but I think I did a really good job of waiting until the right moment to just let it flow and to be able to go out there and do what I did tonight.”

Despite the pressure that can form with being a high draft selection taking the first step into a new professional chapter, Dollander, MLB's No. 49 overall prospect, was able push through it with ease, focusing on the plans he crafted during the offseason.

“I just rely on the preparation and execution of my whole plan," Dollander said. “It's just kind of what I relied on. So as long as I know that I prepared as much as I possibly can for a start, there's no pressure needed to be put on myself.”

Dollander was a player to watch in his college days at the University of Tennessee, where he was named a Preseason 2023 All-America choice by nearly every major national publication. In his final year as a Vol, he tallied 120 strikeouts over 89 innings. But his ERA jumped from 2.39 to 4.75 in the span of a season.

The right-hander took that adversity as a challenge during the offseason, as he continued working on his 60-grade slider, making small improvements each day.

“I guess you could say 'get that back' but I don't like saying get it back, [I] like saying getting better,” Dollander said. “My whole goal this whole offseason was just trying to get better and get better, one percent every day. And as long as I'm stacking that one percent every single day, then everything's just gonna kind of work out for itself.

“So just kind of getting back to trusting myself and trusting my stuff and knowing that my stuff is gonna play at any level. It's just kind of what my mindset is now and it's been helping a lot.”

Dollander was drafted nearly nine months ago, but he looks back on the whirlwind experience with excitement and hopes to take the lessons he absorbed with him while adjusting to his new surroundings.

“It's been awesome,” Dollander said. “It's been really eye-opening too. It's taught me how to handle all the attention that I'm getting. It's really telling me how to handle all of that in a way that I'm not completely dismissing it, but I'm also handling it in a way that allows me to see it and to be able to move on from it, rather than trying to dwell on it too much.”

After checking off the first box in his professional career, Dollander is ready to grind through to the journey of making it to The Show.

“The one thing that I think I want to do throughout the rest of my career, honestly, is just execute pitch by pitch,” Dollander said. “I know that if I do that, and I focus on one pitch at a time, then everything will kind of work out for itself. And it'll be really exciting to kind of go along this journey and to be able to do all of that.”