Drew Dosch would not have been totally surprised if his name wasn’t written into the Delmarva Shorebirds lineup card on Aug. 16. Even though the former Penguins slugger was having an outstanding season in his first taste of minor league baseball, there was one problem.
The night before, against the Hickory Crawdads, the lefty recorded his 150th hit of the campaign — tying the Shorebirds’ club record that was, coincidentally, previously held by Dosch’s manager Ryan Minor, who notched 150 hits in 1997.
“As I was creeping up on [the record], [Minor] joked around that once I tied it, he wasn’t going to play me anymore, so we would just share the record,” Dosch said.
But, naturally, Minor obliged.
So on Aug. 16 in Hickory, Dosch smacked a ninth-inning single to break the Delmarva single-season hit record. The third baseman finished his season with the Shorebirds — the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles — with 157 hits.
“To be able to go there, play every day, play well and do something like break the hit record that’s been there for 20 years — that really showed that I could play at that level and it really meant a lot to me,” Dosch said.
A seventh-round pick by the Orioles in the 2013 MLB Draft, Dosch batted .314 with 22 doubles, four triples and five homeruns in his first season of professional baseball. While the Shorebirds season ended on Sept. 1, the 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pounder got especially hot in July, collecting 39 hits in 27 games (.364) as he earned Orioles’ Player of the Month honors.
“I was able to just step into the games and do what I do,” Dosch said. “I didn’t try to do too much. I wanted to keep my approach of staying in the middle of the field and not trying to hit a bunch of homeruns and that really worked for me all season.”
Did it ever. But quite frankly, his 2014 campaign was similar to his seasons at Youngstown State University.
In three years with the Penguins, Dosch was twice-named a First-Team All-Horizon League member, hitting .353 with eight homeruns during his sophomore year before batting .338 as a junior.
Continuing that success with Delmarva — located in Salisbury, Maryland — the 22-year-old was the starting third baseman in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and was recently ranked as Baltimore’s 11th best prospect by MLB.com.
“The biggest thing was consistency all year,” he said. “We play a lot of games and it’s really a grind to play every single day. You have to find a routine that works for you — as far as batting practice, groundballs and just getting prepared before the game — without over doing it and getting yourself tired.
“So I found a routine that worked for me and I was comfortable with it.”
Just as important, the Columbus native found total comfort playing on his right knee for 128 games.
On May 17, 2013, during his final season with YSU, Dosch tore his ACL in a matchup at Valparaiso University. The severe injury that immediately ended his campaign usually requires a six- to seven-month rehabilitation process.
But in timing the recovery with the start of spring training in March, Dosch extended his rehab to nine months, working extensively with the Orioles training staff as well as the YSU trainers prior to being drafted.
“They both did an amazing job,” he said. “When I finally got back out on to the field after those nine months, I was that much stronger and had that much more confidence in my knee … I give all the credit to the training staffs.”
Now, after an ideal debut pro ball season, next in line for Dosch is a four-week assignment to the Orioles instructional league. He’ll fly out to the Florida camp on Wednesday. After that comes spring training in March.
Through it all, Dosch simply wants to keep improving — even if it means breaking hit-records and jokingly upsetting his managers along the way.
“I’m obviously hoping to move up [in the system],” he said. “You have to keep developing mentally as well as physically, which means learning how you play the game and knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
“We play so many games and scouting reports get out on you, so you have to figure out what adjustments you’re going to make to try and combat the adjustments other teams will make.”