Our last installment with my interview with Drew Dosch. Drew and I worked together back in the day and now he is in the Baltimore Oriole organization. Drew has been nice enough to share his experience with us and hopefully it can give you hope as well if your dream is to be a pro ballplayer.
That is what today is about. Drew tore his ACL in college, so he hasn’t played a professional game yet, but he still has some great insight to share with us.
AK: At what point did you think you had the potential to play at the next level? How does that process go because agents aren’t supposed to talk with college players supposedly?
DD: I once again got lucky to play with a few players in college that got looked at by pro scouts. When I was a sophomore, scouts would come to watch other players and I happened to have my best year. Then, the summer after my sophomore year I got invited to play in the Cape Cod summer collegiate league which is known as the best summer league in the country. This league hosts players from the biggest colleges in the country. There would be ten to twenty scouts at most of our games which gave me great exposure.
AK: What was your showcase, combine, whatever you want to call it (if you had one) like? How did you prepare for it? Were there a lot of professional scouts there? Impressions?
DD: The only one of something like this that I had was the Youngstown State annual “scout day.” Traditionally in baseball, teams will invite all of the area scouts in and have a big showcase/practice day in front of them. This consisted of running a 60-yard dash, fielding groundballs, hitting batting practice, and then an intersquad game. I think the biggest thing I worked on leading up to this was my running form and getting out of a base stealing stance most efficiently to get the best possible 60 time I could. I did not worry about my baseball skills any more than I did on a normal day, I just wanted to relax and let those skills take care of themselves. We ended up having a great turn out at scout day and I had a very good all around day.
AK: What were you doing on draft day?
DD: On draft day I was only two days out of major knee reconstruction surgery so I was sitting in my recliner in my living room watching the draft with my immediate family. I did not want a big party or anything like that, I wanted the people that were closest to me and had made the biggest sacrifices in order for me to get to that point around me on that day. We did not know exactly when I was going to get drafted so when my name popped across the screen that was a moment that I cannot even put into words. I wanted to jump out of my seat but my big knee immobilizer mixed with the throbbing in my knee really put a damper on me doing that.
AK: After you got drafted, what was the process then?
DD: After the draft, that team has the rights to negotiate a contract with you for a little over a month. Luckily, we were able to work out a deal with the Orioles. After you sign your contract, the team will then assign you to a minor league team and you will report there to start playing. However, with my knee I was unable to play right away. Instead, they sent me down to Sarasota, Florida to the teams Spring Training complex. Down here they have their training staff and nice facilities that I am still rehabbing in.
AK: What were your expectations or thoughts of what it was going to be like and how were they similar or different?
DD: Well, for me it is a little different then every other player that was drafted. Since I still do not have a single professional game under my belt, I cannot really speak highly to what it is like to play at this level. The biggest thing I have noticed at this level is that the coaches are much more hands off and are really there as resources for you to use. Everyone at this level is good enough to know what to do and not to do for the most part. So, coaches at this level let you do your thing for the most part, only stepping in if something really sticks out or needs corrected.
AK: What has your first year been like and now that the season is over, what are your goals for next year? What will you do between now and spring training to put yourself in the best position possible to be successful?
DD: My first year has been great other than the whole not being able to play because of my knee thing. It is obviously a little frustrating to sit and watch rather than be out there, but my knee is coming along well and it should be ready come Spring Training next year. My biggest goal for next season is to be ready to go for spring training. I am staying down here in Florida to rehab at the facility every day in order to give my knee the best chance possible of being ready to go.
AK: What are some of the differences between college and the pros? Training, practices, how they treat you, etc.?
DD: I think the biggest difference is that this is your job now. There are not people there to hold your hand through everything or make you do something. If you want to be successful you have every resource to do so, but no one is going to make you try harder or want it more. Practices are a lot more laid back at the professional level. Everyone goes about their business and gets their work in because they know what they have to do to get ready each and every day. I do not get to do a lot of the training yet, but I will speak for the rehab side of things saying they know how to wear you down in order to build you up!
AK: If you could do anything differently to put you in the best position possible to be drafted, what would you do? Or would you not change a thing because you are happy with your situation?
DD: Well for one, I would go back to the play I hurt my knee and decide it was a bad idea to try to hurdle the first basemen and that was not worth missing 6-8 months for. Other than that, I was pretty happy with the way I went through college and the opportunities I took advantage of. I think there were times I put a little added pressure on myself that I did not need, but for the most part I do not regret anything about how I prepared to take the next step to the next level.
AK: What do you do during your down time and during the offseason?
DD: We have a lot of downtime in professional baseball. When we are not at the field playing we find things to do just like anyone else. Down here in Sarasota, I think that I have kept the local movie theater and putt-putt course in business by myself. I am currently taking two online college classes to get me closer to my degree so the homework from those also eats up some of my time. A lot of players in the offseason will go back home and find part time jobs to get them some extra cash through the winter.
AK: What would you like to do when you eventually wind your playing career down?
DD: I am a secondary education major and have always wanted to be a teacher and baseball coach. I would love to work with young people and help them along their paths. I think my experience from a baseball perspective would help me out in the coaching field. I have had a lot of very good coaches and teammates in my career with a wealth of knowledge that I have tried to soak up the best that I could. Becoming a professional baseball player was my ultimate dream, but someday I would still like to be able to go back and coach and possibly teach.
AK: Any other advice you could give young athletes who might have a dream of playing in college or the pros?
DD: I know that it is cliché, but I would tell them not to ever doubt themselves or let anyone tell you that you cannot become a professional athlete. I was no different than most kids out there. I had a passion and love for the game of baseball and wanted to play it as long as I could and become a Big Leaguer. That same drive and motivation is still in me. I did not play varsity baseball as a freshman in high school. That should show you that although I am a talented baseball player, I was not the kid that was destined for greatness because I was unbelievably good at a young age. I had to work to improve my all around game to make the varsity baseball team, earn a college scholarship, and eventually get drafted into major league baseball. Another very important thing is to be coachable. There are so many coaches out there with a wealth of experience and knowledge that we can learn so much from. Soak everything you can about the sport that you play in. The great players have more than just skills for the game they play; they have a deep understanding of it, a love for it, and a passion to excel in it.
I want to thank Drew for taking the time to answer my questions. I’ve known him and his family for a few years now and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid and family. All you should do now is take just one piece of advice that Drew shared and start applying it. Make your dreams happen and don’t let anyone damper them.