DOOLITTLE BREAKING NEW GROUND WITH METEORIC RISE
Being a player on the fast track to the big leagues is one thing. But being Sean Doolittle? Now that’s an entirely different story. You want to know how much territory this erstwhile first baseman has covered this year as the A’s new pitching phenom? Well, let’s start in Stockton, California. That’s where Doolittle was assigned after an eye-opening Spring Training. Once an elite first base prospect for Oakland until knee surgery in 2009 appeared to have ended his promising career, he decided to give it the old college try before hanging up his cleats for good. And when we say college try, that means Doolittle returned to the mound, where he once pitched at the University of Virginia. So, all he did with the Single-A Ports was post a subterranean 0.87 ERA in six games while—and get this—striking out 21 batters and walking just two in 10.1 innings. Clearly, this newly-transitioned hurler was already too good for Single-A. In rapid fashion, he was promoted to Double-A Midland on April 26.
In Midland, Doolittle just continued to pump strike after strike, hitting the speed gun at 94 and 95 MPH. After eight games with the Rockhounds, his pitching line was remarkably similar to his numbers in Stockton: 0.82 ERA, 19 strikeouts and four walks in 11.0 innings. Many in the organization had to be wondering, “Is this kid for real?” Well, it only gets better. On May 27—only a month since he made the step from Single-A to Double-A, Sean was promoted again. He appeared in two games with Triple-A Sacramento, allowing no runs, one hit and fanning eight while walking only one. Clearly, this guy was making an undeniable case for a higher league. And as we know, the only one higher was the one our A’s play in.
So, Monday, in strolled Sean Doolittle into Steve Vucinich’s clubhouse off 66th Avenue. And then in the fifth inning Tuesday night, he took another stroll, this time to the Coliseum pitching mound, where he proceeded to strikeout Nelson Cruz and go on to register 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Yesterday, he was the A’s media darling, as writers and TV stations flocked to his locker or the field for one-on-one interviews. You would think his head would be spinning, considering how far he’s come in such a short time. But instead, he seems to be just soaking it in.
Traveling secretary Mickey Morabito asked him yesterday if he needed to drive to Sacramento to pick up any of his belongings. With no exaggeration, Doolittle responded, “I have no belongings in Sacramento. I wasn’t there long enough. My belongings are still in Midland.” And then he added, “And my car, it’s still in Stockton.”