Professional baseball player Brenton Doyle’s life isn’t much different than yours or mine right now.
Living in Gainesville, the former Kettle Run High star and current Colorado Rockies’ top outfield prospect, is in work-at-home mode, although he still wears batting gloves for their intended purpose.
He’s having multiple daily Zoom meetings with his bosses, one for hitting and one for fielding, taking cuts at an indoor facility, pumping weights, playing golf twice a week and waiting for COVID-19 to subside so he can play baseball on the field again.
“Guys like me had a really good first rookie season and wanted to carry that into the second year. A lot of late-round guys, or free agents, I feel for those guys,” said Doyle, 22, noting some minor leaguers have been released for financial reasons during the pandemic. He’s getting paid $400 a week, plus benefits, at least through June.
Doyle reported to spring training camp on Feb. 20 in Scottsdale, Ariz., and got almost a month in before players were told to go home. He may head back to Scottsdale for more training once Major League Baseball is cleared to return. He was expected to be assigned to play with the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists in the Class A South Atlantic League before the mass shutdowns.
“I’d love to be where I was slotted to be in Asheville. But I’m making the most of the situation now. You’re either falling behind or separating yourself from the others,” he said.
Possessing power, speed and a strong arm, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound right fielder became the highest-ever drafted Fauquier County athlete in history for any sport when the Rockies selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB draft.
The NCAA Division II all-American at Shepherd University was taken with the 129th pick, just ahead of former Battlefield High star Jake Agnos, who was taken with the 135th pick coming out of East Carolina University. A left-handed pitcher, Agnos was drafted by the New York Yankees.
Doyle said he often works out with Agnos and Carter Cunningham, another former Battlefield star now attending Gardner-Webb University.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a good relationship with a hitting facility and be around select college and pro guys to be able to hit and lift every day. I’m keeping busy and staying in the baseball routine,” said Doyle, who graduated from Kettle Run in 2016 and played two years at Shepherd.
Doyle, who hopes he can reach the majors in two or three years, was coming off a red-hot summer with the Rockies’ rookie affiliate Grand Junction, hitting .383 with eight home runs, 33 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
After his breakout rookie season, he’s rated the Rockies’ No. 14 prospect by MLB.com with a tentative target date of 2022 to reach the majors.
Doyle’s first spring training 11 weeks ago was memorable as he stole glances and mingled with some of the Rockies’ biggest stars.
“It was great. Nolan Arenado, David Dahl, Trevor Story. It was cool seeing those guys. The rookies were not separated from the major and minor leaguers, so we all shared the same weight room and cafeteria. They could sit right next to you at the lunch table.”
He said he did not engage any of those marquee millionaires in small talk. “I’m sure some are willing to. You’d have to build up a lot of courage,” said Doyle.
While the minor league season has reportedly been canceled, there is talk of forming “Stay Hot” camps, where an organization’s minor league players are brought to one location to work out together and play intrasquad games for two or three months. “The best case is a season, the most realistic is the Stay Hot camps,” said Doyle.
The weather has been so pleasant here lately that Doyle has been outside swinging a stick made of steel, not maple or hickory.
“It was not my best,” he said about a recent golf round. “I took a lot of baseball swings in the morning and that played into my golf. Normally I’m better when I don’t swing in the morning.”
He says his golf scorecard isn’t as eye-popping as his batting average. “Ha-ha. None worth mentioning,” he said.