Dosch excels after rehab


Former Penguin broke a hits record

By Joe Scalzo

scalzo@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

In mid-August, when Drew Dosch tied the single-season hit record for the Class-A Delmarva Shorebirds, his manager, Ryan Minor shook his hand, gave him a pat on the back and joked, “You’re not going to play any more this season.”

Dosch’s 150 hits equaled Minor’s record from the 1997 season. Two nights later, the former Youngstown State standout broke the mark with a single to left field in the ninth inning.

“It was weighing on me a little bit,” Dosch said. “From hit 149 to 150, I think I went 0 for 15 or something, then I went 0 for 8 until I broke it, so it was definitely in the back of my mind.

“It was definitely an honor, especially in my first full season of pro baseball, to play well enough and accomplish something like that. It really made me feel good about my season at the end of the year.”

Dosch, a third baseman, finished with 157 hits in 128 games, batting .314 with a .783 OPS for the Shorebirds, who finished 66-73 in the South Atlantic League.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Orioles in 2013, Dosch sat out his first summer after tearing his ACL late in YSU’s 2013 season, landing awkwardly on first base while running out a grounder.

If there was a silver lining, the timing of the injury allowed him to stretch what would have been a six-month rehab over nine months.

“That allowed me to full progress on all my rehab and get back all my strength and my speed and my agility,” he said. “Early in the season I don’t think it was all there, but as the season went on, there were no problems. The knee felt strong and that enabled me to go out every night and play well.”

Dosch did have some uncomfortable flashbacks whenever he had to run out a grounder to the left side of the infield, especially when the infielder made a bad throw, “but after flinching the first couple times, I kind of got used to it. If anything was going to happen, it was going to happen. You can’t play with fear.”

Like all minor leaguers, Dosch also had to adjust to the mental and physical grind of playing every day, going from 105 games over seven months in college/summer ball to playing 128 in five months with the Shorebirds.

“It’s such a grind,” he said. “Baseball is hard enough as it is. You’re gonna fail, so to have a clear mind when you step on the field every night, it helps to have a routine.

“Once you get that down, it makes it easier to go through the fall season.”

Dosch also feels lucky to have landed with a good organization with a supportive manager in Minor.

“I love where I’m at,” he said. “The Orioles were the only team in the draft willing to take a chance on me. I think it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship to this point and I hope it continues. I love playing in that organization and I hope to move up and play for them in the big leagues someday.”

Dosch’s record added to what was a terrific spring and summer for the Penguins, who advanced to the NCAA tournament and saw former pitcher Phil Klein advance to the major leagues with the Texas Rangers.

“I followed every [YSU] game in the tournament round,” Dosch said. “I obviously wasn’t able to watch every game but I was getting updates on my phone and people were texting me updates. All my friends were seniors this year, so I was so happy for them to experience that success. They deserve it.

“And Phil, that’s an incredible story, not that I’m surprised. He’s got unbelievable stuff, unbelievable tools. I always knew there was something special about him, so I’m not surprised at all to see him pitching in the big leagues.”

In addition to working out and getting ready for next season, Dosch is working cleanup for a construction crew five days a week, mainly to keep him busy but also to earn a little extra money.

“I’d go absolutely insane if I had nothing to do after having a routine all summer,” he said. “I just need something to keep me occupied.”

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