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Spring Training Games Thread 2021

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Recent Blogs

Randy Dobnak Is More Than a Great Story

If you've followed baseball for a while, then like me, you've probably come to appreciate a good story. In the endless procession of innings, games, and seasons, there are invariable cycles of ups and downs, wins and losses, thrills and disappointments. But it's those compelling human narratives — tales of perseverance, redemption, and improbable triumph — that stick with you.

Randy Dobnak's story is undoubtedly one of the most striking we've seen here in Minnesota. But to cast him narrowly in that frame is to undersell what is an extremely impressive and encouraging rookie performance from any perspective.
Image courtesy of Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
It's always fun to see an underdog rise to the major leagues in a Twins uniform — especially when they experience an unlikely wave of initial success. Willians Astudillo and Ryne Harper come to mind as recent examples. Fans may recall that Andrew Albers reached the big leagues in 2013, a few years after fizzling out of affiliated ball, and fired 17 1/3 scoreless innings in his first two starts. Looking back a little further, there was Australian third baseman Glenn Williams, who reached the majors in 2005 after nearly a decade toiling in the minors and batted .425 in his first (and only) 40 MLB at-bats.

Fun stories, but nothing more. It was fairly evident at the time that these were flash-in-the-pan moments, lacking a sustainable formula to turn them into anything more.

Dobnak's backstory is as good as any before him, if not better. As I wrote in the latest Week in Review column, "In a season full of a good stories, Randy Dobnak might have 'em all beat." Here we have a guy who went undrafted out of Division II Alderson-Broaddus College in West Virginia, but kept chasing his dream in independent ball as pitcher for the Utica Unicorns in Michigan. The Twins, somehow, took notice of the right-hander and signed him.

After a stunning two-year ascent through the minors that saw him post an ERA of 3.14 or better at every stop, the 24-year-old who famously boasted of his 4.99/5.00 rating as an Uber driver was called up the major leagues and made his debut on August 9th, hurling four shutout innings in a critical game against Cleveland.

He has since continued to turn in consistently sterling results, and on Wednesday he added yet another chapter to his inspirational tale, logging his finest start yet as a Twin (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER) and picking up the win in Minnesota's division-clinching victory. Soon after, he was off to Maryland for a wedding this weekend, which was only planned with such poor timing because when he got engaged two years ago, this was not a conceivable possibility in his (or anyone else's) mind.

Dobnak's journey has been unreal up to this point and it's only gonna get crazier when he all but certainly takes the mound as a starter for one of Minnesota's upcoming playoff games against the Yankees. But unlike so many short-lived sensations before him, there's legitimate reason to believe that Dobnak's story is only beginning.

It's not just his 1.59 ERA through nine appearances with the Twins (seventh-best among AL pitchers with 20+ IP since the start of August) -- it's the way he's achieved it. Consider these secondary numbers:

Dobnak has a 52.9% ground ball rate. That would rank sixth among qualified MLB starters.

Dobnak has a 12.9% swinging strike rate. That would rank 15th among qualified MLB starters.

Dobnak has thrown 68% strikes, and owns a 4.2% walk rate. That would rank fourth among MLB starters.

So, to recap, Dobnak has gotten grounders, missed bats, and attacked the zone at either a borderline elite (or just flat-out elite) rate. That is essentially a failsafe recipe for success as a pitcher. There are zero qualified starters in the league with equal or superior marks in all three categories.

This is not a guy getting fat off crappy opponents. (In fact, five of his nine appearances have come against Cleveland, Washington, or Boston.) Nor is it a guy who's simply taking advantage of scouting reports that have not yet caught up. I mean, that might be the case to an extent, but Dobnak is not floating on a smoke-and-mirrors type fluke. This is real.

That's why he's got a better chance to hold his own against New York in the ALDS than you might expect. And it's why he has rapidly turned into a substantive factor in the team's future rotation planning.

Pretty damn cool to see. Uber-cool, one might say.

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Sep 26 2019 06:35 PM

His stuff was legit last night.His ability to locate pitches down in the zone and then bring heat up in the zone was impressive.I don't know any major league line up that is going to square him up if he is able to consistently execute that approach.His demeanor suggests that he can handle the biggest stage in the game, Yankee Stadium.I would love nothing better than to see him get a Game 2 start and watch the Bombers fizzle.




    • glunn, DocBauer and Brian450 like this
I love that he is not afraid. He attacks the zone and puts pressure on the hitter. Gibson and Perez should take notice
    • glunn, DocBauer and tarheeltwinsfan like this

Can definitely Lyft the Twins this postseason

    • glunn, James, Puckett34 and 14 others like this
Sep 26 2019 11:01 PM

Whether he sinks or swims, he needs to get in the pool against THAT team, so he might just as well keep on throwing strikes.


I saw some highlights against the Tigers (I know, I know). He had some of those hitters swinging at ghastly pitches outside of the zone. I mean this in a positive way. The hitters were completely fooled by the speed and movement. It was impressive. He got ahead of hitters and then had them swinging at his pitch of choice.

Can anyone tell me the last time a Twins pitcher with a kick-ass moustache dominated the post-season?

    • blindeke likes this


Can anyone tell me the last time a Twins pitcher with a kick-ass moustache dominated the post-season?



Mike Marshall 

He dominated in 1974 but not for the Twins.





    • Oldgoat_MN and mikelink45 like this


Can anyone tell me the last time a Twins pitcher with a kick-ass moustache dominated the post-season?


    • scottz, gunnarthor, James and 12 others like this
Richard Swerdlick
Sep 27 2019 04:44 AM

It's amazing to me how we find guys like Randy D. 


Can definitely Lyft the Twins this postseason

I've been Uber impressed with him

    • James, Sconnie and wabene like this


Can definitely Lyft the Twins this postseason

IALTO on the Lyft




Get the bleep off my mound!!!

    • scottz, Circus Boy and wabene like this

It would be great if it continues through the series.I see it as a Horatio Alger story - rising from the bottom - he just needs to continue to all star status in the next few years.At least we have three starters now with a chance to win, a chance to hold the game in check for five innings.After Pineda I was really worried we would only have two.

    • Oldgoat_MN and Diesel like this

It's amazing to me how we find guys like Randy D.

There is only one way to find them. You hand them the ball.
    • diehardtwinsfan, Sconnie, wabene and 1 other like this

I don't know whom to credit for Randy Dobnak. This is a guy that looks like a young, innings-eating horse for the next decade. Nothing about his game whispers "fluke" or "flash in the pan." His tempo is excellent - under 15 seconds per pitch, unless a guy swings, then it's about 20 seconds. His motion is compact and efficient, with no obvious physical clues to distinguish his heater from his slider. He is on balance, with good rhythm. He attacks the zone from the first pitch. Not quite the sewing machine precision of Odorizzi, but good enough to throw lots of strikes. Best of all, Dobnak's strikes are all around the zone, so a hitter has little idea where the next one will be. And Dobbie's stuff breaks in all directions. 


How was he not drafted? Did he really learn all this stuff from the Twins organization? Did Twins scouts simply identify him as a good candidate, good clay, and then they shaped him into a major league pitcher? I mean, we know that's the intention with every pitcher in the minors, but why did it work so well with Dobnak? 


Anyway, the team somehow seems to have conjured a solid starter out of thin air. Good timing, Twins coaches! Dobnak does not show the hesitation or self-doubt of a rookie pitcher. Like Smeltzer, he just keeps attacking, but Dobnak's heater tops out in the mid-90's. I do wonder if Wes Johnson added a couple mph with his magical mechanical trickery. Johnson has upped the mph for several pitchers here. Dobnak apparently is a very coachable guy. 

    • Dman, DocBauer, wabene and 1 other like this


How was he not drafted? Did he really learn all this stuff from the Twins organization? Did Twins scouts simply identify him as a good candidate, good clay, and then they shaped him into a major league pitcher? I mean, we know that's the intention with every pitcher in the minors, but why did it work so well with Dobnak?


I don't know but it would be interesting to find out. This guy went from A ball to the majors and is doing just (knock on wood). How awesome is that!

    • Highabove likes this


There is only one way to find them. You hand them the ball.

This particular story goes before that, though. He went undrafted. What scout saw him playing for the Utica Unicorns and convinced the Twins to sign him? What did they see? Were they just looking for filler or did they see 'that' potential? I'd like to read that scouting report. But after that, it was about giving him the ball. And they did.



How was he not drafted?


Easy:Likely he did not pitch in the single Alderson-Broaddus College game that the area scout attended..

Atta Dobby. Live the dream. Live it large.

Hopefully Falvey found his Cory Kluber.

    • diehardtwinsfan, DocBauer, twinssouth and 2 others like this

I never thought Dobnak would have had a chance to be anything other than possibly a low level MLB reliever. I never had him as a top prospect and figured that he most likely would end up a AAAA pitcher.I guess I could not have been more wrong about him.


Only having numbers to rely on I always liked his WHIP but the K9 numbers didn't seem to be there so I never considered he could even be a dominant pitcher.This year he really had a great ERA and WHIP no matter what level they had him at.While his K9 numbers are not fantastic it isn't at Kohl Stewart levels either.He seems pretty solid attacking the zone and getting good results.I am surprised but happy to be wrong as we need some guys to step in and step for us soon. Sorry I doubted you Randy I wish you continued domination and success.

    • rdehring likes this


Hopefully Falvey found his Cory Kluber.

Wouldn't that be fantastic?Thought may keep me smiling all winter!

Sep 27 2019 12:03 PM

I wish Dobnak could change his jersey number from 68 to 4.99/5.00.

    • SQUIRREL, Oldgoat_MN and DocBauer like this
Didnt Kintzler play in the independent leagues also??

I'd like to say something really hyperbolic and probably very stupid. Watching Dobnak against the Tigers the other night, Greg Maddux kept popping into my head. I don't know why for sure, but Dobnak's pace, his consistent location, his ability to throw a set up pitch followed by the perfect swing and miss pitch, everything felt like Maddux.


I'd like to be mocked and ridiculed now, and I'd like you all to tell me why I'm wrong and how different the two pitchers are and how I must be a moron for comparing a guy with 28 innings under his belt to a HOF guy with 355 wins. Thank you kindly for your harsh words.

Went back and found the article I wrote on Randy and his Kernels teammate Jordan Gore back in June, 2018. (Couldn't get back to the "Front Page" version of the article, but the "Blog" version was still accessible.)


Pretty remarkable to see how much his career has changed without the person changing much at all.


The quotes from his manager, Toby Gardenhire, about halfway through the piece speak volumes.



    • SQUIRREL and DocBauer like this

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