Kingston’s Dorrian has sights set on majors
Kingston High alum Pat Dorrian still has his sights set on the majors
Pat Dorrian couldn’t fail to see the irony last summer when he found himself — six days into his professional baseball career — playing against the Atlanta Braves’ affiliate in a Gulf Coast League game.
“The first time we played them it was at Orlando. It was funny being there again,” the Kingston High alum and 2014 Freeman Player of the Year remarked. “It was like déjà vu.”
Dorrian, now in a Pirates uniform, was drafted in the 12th round in 2014 by the Braves and, right after signing his contract, was in that same complex. Within a week, he had left the team.
Four and a half years later, Dorrian is back in Florida to begin his second year in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
That detour has made the 22-year-old third baseman stronger, wiser, more polished and “ready” to make his bid to reach the majors.
“It’s definitely a positive four years in all aspects, whether it’s baseball or just life. I’m more ready to go for certain things that I wasn’t at that time,” Dorrian said. “It’s not something I regret. I just kind of took it as a learning experience and it’s something that I can tell other kids who go through something like this.”
He never wavered from his quest.
“It’s always been the goal. As I
“It’s been good so far, I’m ready to go.” – Pat Dorrian.
said, at that certain time I wasn’t ready, so I decided to go to school with the same goal in mind, the same work ethic if not higher up than it actually was,” Dorrian said. “I never thought it was out of reach. I knew that it could always happen.”
He signed as a nondrafted free agent with the Pirates last June 20 and, two days later, had two singles and three RBI in his pro debut. He hit .328 with 10 doubles, 6 triples, a home run and 34 RBI in the Gulf Coast League. That earned him a promotion to the Bristol (Virginia) Pirates of the Appalachian League for 9 games. He batted .367 with 11 hits (five for extra bases) and 5 RBI.
Dorrian, who went down to the Pirates’ Bradenton complex last week for a mini camp, could be in Single-A ball with the Greensboro (North Carolina) Grasshoppers this year.
“It’s been good so far. I’m ready to go,” said Dorrian, who has been working out with former Tiger teammate Zack Short, who should see himself in Triple-A with the Chicago Cubs.
Dorrian was invited to the Fall Instructional
League, a big boost for a first-year free agent trying to make an impression.
“It was an extra two weeks of games with all the coaches (AA, high A, low A). I got a lot of one-on-one individual work and I got to introduce myself,” he said. “I met Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pirates. He was there for a few days, which was really cool. That was an awesome experience. And I played really well. I hit two home runs in two weeks. It was huge. I played pretty much all at third base.
“That was my biggest thing when it comes to my exposure in the organization. That’s what really made everyone know who I was and know my name.
“I’ve been invited to multiple camps this offseason,” he noted. “Whether or not it actually means anything, it definitely makes me feel good. I makes me feel like I’m wanted.”
Dorrian admitted he “just wasn’t ready” with the Braves four years ago.
“I got there. I wasn’t comfortable. I was a bit overwhelmed,” he said. “I didn’t feel that I was ready, polished enough, to be there. The first day I really got onto the field and practiced, I was like, ‘Okay. This ... I don’t know.’ I was unsure and I took another day or two and it was like, ‘Yeah. I don’t think so.’ I talked to
my parents about it. They supported me then and now.
“At the time, I did not feel that I was good enough to be there yet. There was a lot of people there. There were a lot of older guys who didn’t speak any English. I was kind of out of my comfort zone when it came to the baseball scenario. That was probably the biggest thing. I didn’t want to go there and be like a bust. I know it was so early and I was super young. It was just the way my mind was thinking at the time. At that certain time, I just didn’t feel I was ready for multiple reasons. I just didn’t think that I was polished to compete at that level at that time.
“Many people disagreed with what I did and it’s totally okay, because you know what? If I heard this story about someone else, I’d be like, ‘What’s he doing? He has the world in the palm of his hand.’
“At the other end of the stick, you don’t know what it’s like — 17 years old, you’re leaving and I know kids do it for college. It just wasn’t my time. I thought, ‘I’ll go to school. I’ll get an education. I’ll do this. I’ll do that so I have something to fall back on. A lot of people ask me, ‘Do you regret it? ‘ Honestly, the answer is no. I truly don’t. I wish I... There are things I could have handled
a little bit better with more maturity, but what are you going to do? I can’t go back in time.
“Of course I was homesick, but that was not the reason why I left. Of course I missed home, I missed my friends, but I wasn’t going to let that judge whether or not I leave a professional organization. There was a lot of other things that played into that that people never realized at that time.
“At the end of day, at that certain time, I was not ready to be where my feet were.”
Unbeknownst to him was that decision meant Dorrian was no longer eligible to player Division I college ball or be drafted again.
Dorrian, who had verbally committed to Iowa Western Community College before he was drafted in ‘14, went to Herkimer County Community College near Utica. In two years with the Generals, he hit .357 with 99 RBI and was a second-team All-American.
He then committed to St. John’s, but the NCAA denied the eligibility. Division-II Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. was waiting in the wings, however.
“My roomate at Herkimer, Jake Rouse, had committed to Lynn early on and they told me that they were going to save scholarship money, because they
knew my whole situation.” Dorrian explained. “Pretty much right when I couldn’t go to St. John’s, later that day, I called and said, ‘I’m coming.’ It worked out great.”
Dorrian had 26 homers, 100 RBI and batted .372 and .394 in his two seasons at Lynn. He was the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year and an All-American his senior year.
The Diamondbacks, White Sox, Mariners, Orioles, Phillies and the Marlins all saw Dorrian play while at Lynn.
“Once the school ball ended, I actually stuck around Florida for a little while, just in case of hearing of any workouts with different teams,” said Dorrian, who did have a session with the Rangers.
Pittsburgh, which had shown interest in Dorrian when he was at Herkimer, kept an eye on him and reached out two weeks after the draft.
“I was actually at my girlfriend’s house, in the backyard with her family, and my coach from Lynn called me. He said, ‘Hey, some guy with the Pirates just called me. He should be calling you soon.’ I hung up the phone and, two seconds later, he calls. He said, ‘We have a spot for you in the Gulf Coast League. You had a great year at school.
You deserve an opportunity. What do you think?’ I said, ‘Let’s go.’”
A middle infielder all his life, he played at third for 43 of his 47 games with the two Pirate teams. He had tried the corner when he first came to Herkimer, then in the Cape Cod League. It’s a move that works to his benefit with top shortstop prospect Cole Tucker just added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster.
The Pirates are looking at Dorrian’s versatility and keeping his bat in the lineup, even putting him through some catching drills at the Fall Instructional camp.
“I was a good player in high school. I did my thing,” said Dorrian, who also starred at Kingston in both basketball and football.
“I think part of the reason why the Braves decided to draft me was because I was just an athlete. I played multiple sports. It was more of a potential thing, like I had the potential to be something good,” he said.
“I think now the reason the Pirates gave me a chance was because I’m older, matured and my game is more polished. I know what I’m doing at the plate. For the most part, I know what I’m doing in the field. I’d definitely say I’m more polished, more seasoned for sure.”
Pat Dorrian batting with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.