With the 2021 season having come to a close, we are looking back at the year that was for members of the Texas Rangers.
Today we are looking at infielder Ryan Dorow.
One of the things I get an inordinate amount of enjoyment from is when I do something as a bit, and then it pans out. Thus, my soft spot for Ryan Dorow.
Back in April of 2019 I tweeted:
Rangers 30th round picks in 2011 (Phil Klein) and 2015 (Jeffrey Springs) made the majors, and 2013 30th rounder Joe Palumbo likely will. So maybe we should keep an eye on 2017 Rangers 30th round pick Ryan Dorow.— Adam J. Morris (@lonestarball) April 8, 2019
I find numbers and patterns in numbers to be fascinating, and thus the fact that the Rangers had picks from the 30th round — a round where almost no players actually make it to the majors — make the Show in three consecutive odd numbered years was catnip to me. It also had me rooting for Ryan Dorow to make the majors — to continue this weird streak.
At the time I tweeted this, the chances of Dorow becoming a major leaguer seemed pretty remote. Not only was he a 30th round pick, he had been drafted as a senior out of Adrian College, which sounds made up, but is actually a Division III liberal arts college in Adrian, Michigan, with an enrollment in spring, 2021, of 1677 students, per Wikipedia. Dorow was only the third player drafted out of Adrian College (though a fourth, pitcher Mo Hanley, was selected this year by the Angels in the 9th round) in the history of MLB. He had, at the time of the tweet, put up a 766 OPS in 2017 in the AZL, and then a 767 OPS in low-A Hickory in 2018, playing a variety of infield positions.
Dorow seemed like an organizational soldier, a guy who would stick around as a versatile defender with a good glove who could be plugged in wherever the organization needed him, but wasn’t going to ever hit enough to be a legitimate prospect, or possibly even get to AAA. Still, a bit is a bit, so I was rooting for Dorow.
Dorow split 2019 between high-A and AA, put up a 776 OPS in high-A, put up a 641 OPS in AA, and as a guy who turned 24 before the end of the 2019 season and didn’t hit in AA, we forgot about him until 2021 rolled around and Dorow slashed .333/.394/.600 in 24 games for Frisco while showing an impressive glove in the infield.
That performance got Dorow moved up to AAA, where he hit a wall, returning to the mid-700 OPS numbers he had put up previously in his minor league career. Still, chance favored Dorow in his goal to reach the majors, in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you may recall — or maybe you don’t, because it was late August and the Rangers were terrible and you had other stuff going on in your life — the Rangers had a COVID-19 outbreak while in Boston for a series against the Red Sox in late August. That outbreak landed a number of players, including infielders Brock Holt and Charlie Culberson, on the COVID-19 list. Needing position players to be added to the active roster, the Rangers, on August 23, called up a number of players, including Ryan Dorow, from the minor leagues.
And thus, Ryan Dorow, Adrian College product, former 30th round pick, had defied the odds — he was a major leaguer.
Dorow had an uneventful run in the big leagues. He made a couple of starts, came into a 13-2 blowout win against the Astros as a defensive replacement, and went 0 for 6 with a walk and three Ks. On September 1, Dorow was sent back to Round Rock, where he finished out the season.
Ryan Dorow was mentioned by Levi Weaver a few days ago as someone who you would probably like, in an ideal world, to add to the 40 man roster this season, though the Rangers almost certainly won’t add him, given their roster situation. He didn’t have to be added to the 40 man roster when he was called up in August because of the special roster rules MLB implemented for teams experiencing a COVID outbreak, and thus he didn’t have to be removed from the 40 man roster, either, so he’s actually never officially been on the 40 man roster at any point.
Dorow seems unlikely to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft this winter, and if he is selected, he’s likely to be returned to the Rangers. The risk of losing Dorow as a result of his being exposed isn’t high. Still, Dorow is the type of player it is nice to have as the final guy on your 40 man roster, someone who you can bring up and add to the active roster on a moment’s notice if you need an infielder, someone who can play a number of positions and provide depth while also not being the type of player you worry about hurting the development of if you sit him on a major league bench for two weeks in a temporary reserve role. Someone who can provide depth and who you can shuffle up and down without worrying about losing on a waiver claim or because of an election of free agency upon their second outright assignment. I can understand why Levi says that, if you had enough spots on the 40 man roster, he’s someone you’d want to have on there.
In any case, Dorow will likely return to Round Rock in 2022, and be minor league depth for the Rangers. It is hard to say what his future path in baseball looks like — he could hang it up in a couple of years, or he could be one of those guys who bounces around for years on minor league deals, playing in AAA cities all over the country and picking up major league service time here and there when the organization he is with needs an infielder at the big league level.
Its possible Dorow ends up with a lengthy pro career and spends a significant amount of time in the majors in the future. Its also possible that the eight days Dorow spent in the majors in 2021 will be the entirety of his major league career.
And if that’s the case, well, he’ll still have been a major leaguer. His stats will forever be part of major league history. He will have beaten the odds and made it to the Show, something I dreamed about as a kid, and millions of others dreamed about as kids, and never came close to accomplishing. Yeah, it was for a terrible team in a unique circumstance where COVID-19 meant having to bring up reinforcements, and it was only three games and seven plate appearances, and I’m sure there’s a certain amount of dismissiveness from some folks because of that.
But I was thinking about that, and it brought to mind the old sitcom Night Court, which I loved as a kid. And I remember in the pilot episode, someone asked newly appointed Judge Harry Stone, who didn’t fit the mold of what they thought a judge should be, how he got appointed to the bench.
Per IMDB, here’s the exchange:
Judge Harry T. Stone: Any questions?
Dan Fielding: Just one. How? How did you get appointed to the bench?
Judge Harry T. Stone: You know, Dan, that’s a funny story. It was the mayor’s last day in office, and it was a Sunday. And my name was at the bottom of a list of a thousand candidates. So they start calling folk, starting at the top of the list, but, you see, it’s Sunday so no-one’s home. So they keep calling down the list, name by name; no-one answers. Finally they get down to the bottom of the list and... voila.
Court Clerk Lana Wagner: You mean you were appointed a judge because...
Judge Harry T. Stone: I was home.
Its self-deprecating and played for a joke. But there’s an important coda to that anecdote.
At the end of the episode, Harry re-visits the issue:
Judge Harry T. Stone : You know, my name was at the bottom of that list of prospective judges because I haven’t had much experience really. But, every candidate does go through a thorough screening process, and whatever anybody thinks of that list, I *was* on it.
I think sometimes we lose sight of how difficult it is to play professional baseball. Guys who top out in A ball are still legendary at their high schools for being the best player folks there ever saw play, that their opponents ever played against. Fringe pro baseball players, college players who never get drafted, are still so much better than the rest of us its hard to comprehend.
We sometimes are dismissive of players, noting they only got a cup of coffee in the big leagues, only appeared in a few games in the Show. But there’s almost 8 billion people on earth right now, and only about 2000 of them are good enough to play AAA or major league baseball at any given time. Just to get to that level is an incredible accomplishment. To get to the majors, even for a brief period of time, is that much harder.
So whatever the circumstances surrounding Ryan Dorow’s time in the majors, whatever else happens in his pro career, whatever you may think of what he’s done or accomplished — he was, as Harry Stone says, on the list.