The Minnesota Twins reliever had his contract selected on Thursday afternoon, completing an odyssey from the independent leagues to the major leagues.
The back end of the Minnesota Twins bullpen has been a carousel throughout the course of the 2019 season. What was originally thought to be Fernando Romero‘s spot by now has turned into a revolving door of minor league guys waiting for their opportunity. As Sean Poppen, Kohl Stewart and Cody Stashak have all gotten a shot, the latest reliever to try his luck is Randy Dobnak.
On the surface, Thursday’s call up of Dobnak looks like another attempt for the Twins to patch up a hole that has been the throw-away portion of the bullpen this season. However, getting to the major leagues is much more than that for Dobnak considering where’s he’s gone to get to Minnesota.
Dobnak’s collegiate career began at a D-II school in West Virginia called Alderson-Broaddus College. When no team came calling in the 2017 MLB Draft, Dobnak took his future into his own hands and pitched for the independent Utica Unicorns before signing a minor league contract with the Twins a couple months later.
Since landing in the Twins organization, Dobnak has been effective as he started at High-A Fort Myers this season and has worked his way up to the major leagues thanks to a 2.02 ERA through three levels in 2019. His performance has also gotten him noticed as he cracked Baseball America’s top 30 Twins prospects list during their midseason update.
Dobnak isn’t a flame-thrower by any means with a 7.3 K/9 ratio this season and a 59 percent ground ball rate. For a team that’s desperate to find an effective reliever not named Taylor Rogers (and more recently, Sergio Romo), the 24-year old is worthy of a shot as the Twins begin a four-game series with Cleveland this weekend.
Even if Dobnak’s first innings don’t go the way he would like, his path to the major leagues is something that will make this moment something to cherish.