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From Class A to the Bronx: Detailing Randy Dobnak's Rapid Rise


Brandon Warne

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This is an excerpt from a post originating at Zone Coverage. Please click here to read it in full.

 

A couple of offseasons ago, we ran a series similar to what we’re doing here, entitled “Minnesota Twins 40-Man Report Cards.” The only key difference to be aware of is since it’s happening now instead of during the offseason, we’re going to make it forward-looking — that is, with the current roster as constructed, looking back on their 2019 season.

 

Previous editions:

So in some cases, it’ll be looking at players who might not have necessarily spent all or even any of their 2019 season in the organization.

 

Let’s dive right in, starting with the pitchers:

  • Player: Randy Dobnak
  • 2019 team(s): Minnesota Twins
  • Pertinent Numbers: 28.1 IP, 1.59 ERA/2.90 FIP, 0.8 fWAR/0.7 bWAR (with Minnesota); 46.0 IP, 2.15 ERA/3.45 FIP (with Rochester); 66.2 IP, 2.56 ERA/3.00 FIP (with Pensacola); 22.1 IP, 0.40 ERA/2.73 FIP (with Fort Myers)

2019 LOWDOWN

 

Maybe I’m just needing to stand on my soapbox for a second, but it feels so reductionist to continually recall Dobnak as the Uber driver-made-good — especially when it’s used to encapsulate his meteoric rise to pitching in the Bronx in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Or if you’re an opposing fan, demean the fact that he was there in the first place.

 

I’m willing to be wrong here. Certainly, it wasn’t his fault that Michael Pineda was suspended and Kyle Gibson had a rough end to the season.

 

But even without his ride-share prowess, the story of Dobnak is unlike many, if any, ever told in professional baseball. Dobnak wasn’t drafted out of high school, so he went to Division II Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia.

 

After four years of putting up numbers for the Battlers, Dobnak again went undrafted.

 

In fact, Dobnak made light of this fact when he faced the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a scrimmage for the first game action for the Twins this spring. He joked with reporters afterward that it was the first Division I baseball he’d ever played.

 

Despite going undrafted in 2017, an undeterred Dobnak went and pitched in the United Shore Professional Baseball League in Michigan, making six appearances before finally catching the eye of the Minnesota Twins, who signed him on July 31.

 

Dobnak’s final appearance in the USPBL was a brilliant one — a complete-game four-hitter with two earned runs, seven strikeouts and no walks against the East Side Diamond Hoppers.

 

That was it for Dobnak in the Independent Leagues. No longer was he a Utica Unicorn — though in reality, a unicorn is what he truly is to this day.

 

A little over two years later — Aug. 9 of last season — Dobnak found himself on the mound at Target Field taking on the Cleveland Indians.

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