Double-A Bowie third baseman Pat Dorrian was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of Kingston High School in New York in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, but decided to put his big-league ambitions on hold shortly after signing with the Braves.
As detailed by The Baltimore Sun, Dorrian felt he wasn’t ready for pro ball after reporting to the Braves, but since he had signed a pro contract, he wasn’t eligible to play college ball everywhere. He played two years at Herkimer County Community College in New York then played two years at Division II Lynn University.
Dorrian signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in June 2018, then was flipped to the Orioles for right-hander Yefry Ramirez a year later. Dorrian hit .233/.279/.344 with the Frederick Keys, then the Orioles’ High-A affiliate. Now, the 24-year-old is hitting .302/.492/.744 for the Baysox entering play May 21.
So what exactly did Dorrian do during the COVID-19 shutdown last year to produce this kind of start? He worked out with Zack Short, a shortstop in the Detroit Tigers’ organization and a follow Kingston, N.Y., native, for one.
“We’d be doing garage workouts in the morning,” Dorrian said on Glenn Clark Radio May 18, “and then we’d go to our hitting facility and we’d be in there for hours and hours just picking each other’s brain, taking hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of swings, just trying to figure things out and just bouncing things off each other. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend a lot of time golfing, too.”
He knew there were certain areas in his game that had to take a step forward for him to have a chance of making it to the big leagues. Despite playing home games at hitter-friendly Harry Grove Stadium, Dorrian hit just four home runs in 51 games with Frederick in 2019. He knew he had to get stronger and hit for more power to fit a third base profile.
He hit five home runs in his first eight games for Bowie this year.
“I knew that I needed to get the power numbers up a little bit, but I knew the best way to do that was just get the barrel to the ball, hit the ball in the air and the rest will take care of itself,” Dorrian said. “I’m not crushing myself, putting extra pressure on myself to hit home runs or to do things like that. You’ve just got to let it happen, and that happens by being patient, swinging at the right pitches and just trusting the work that you’ve put in.”
For Dorrian and the vast majority of minor leaguers, this spring marks the first organized action since spring training was shut down last year and the first minor-league action since September 2019. Some prospects were fortunate enough to work out at their club’s alternate site last summer, but Dorrian wasn’t one of the Orioles’ prospects at Bowie.
Dorrian admitted that missing a season’s worth of at-bats was something in the back of his mind entering this season, but he felt like he was back into a groove a couple games into the season. He’s a key part of a prospect-laden Baysox team that enters play on May 21 with a record of 11-3.
“I think everyone’s just so happy to be playing again,” Dorrian said. “Just being away from it for a year and now being back into it playing every single day, everyone’s so happy and so excited and just with each other, playing together, playing for each other, playing for the coaching staff. … We have an awesome group of guys. Everyone’s pulling for each other.”
Dorrian finds himself in a perfect situation to make his big-league dreams a reality. The Orioles’ current third baseman is Maikel Franco, a one-year stopgap. For Dorrian and Triple-A Norfolk’s Rylan Bannon, opportunity may knock as soon as this year.
And that’d be quite a story for Dorrian, considering he put off pro ball in 2014.
“I was a young kid at the time and did what I needed to do at that time and I’m back here now,” Dorrian said. “Really all that matters to me is where I’m at now and just focus on the future and focus on the right now. I’m in a good spot and I’m very thankful. I’ve learned a lot throughout my career, whether it was in college or in pro ball, so I’m just happy to be where I am now.”
For more from Dorrian, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: William Vaughan/Bowie Baysox