photo: Bryan Dobzanski (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)
The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2020 begins with a former big-bonus reliever who earned two promotions last season and could pitch his way into the St. Louis picture next summer. FREE article.
|2019 rank||Pos.||DOB||Ht.||Wt.||Bat||Thw||Signed||Round||R5/Opt||MLB debut|
|NR||RHR||8 31 95||6-5||230||R||R||2014||29th||2018||2020|
Link to Bryan Dobzanski’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.
Selected 2019 stats
TCN Scouting Grade: 4, Risk: medium (click here to review scales)
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (59): By his #59 ranking by the Community voters, Dobzanski moved up 13 slots (#72) from last year’s tally. Speaking of moving up…. it’s interesting to note that Bryan has made a stop at every Cardinals stateside affiliate in his six-year pro career.
Dobzanski first appeared in the voting at #55 by CariocaCardinal, who added that he wouldn’t be surprised if “Dobz” was taken in the Rule 5 draft. In the very next round, Dobzanski picked up a good amount of support.
He may not have received votes earlier because he arrived late in Memphis (August 28th) and only appeared in three games there – and more likely because he shared a bullpen seat with Kodi Whitley (of newly gained prominence), and vets Jesus Cruz, Chris Ellis and Chasen Shreve. Dobzanski’s Triple-A arrival coincided with St. Louis expanding its roster for September.
Nonetheless, Dobzanski did well enough at both the Double-A and A-Advanced levels during the 2019 season to crack the top 50. Clearly he should have a leg up on other Double-A prospects hoping to move up to Triple-A in 2020. – John Baker
Derek Shore (41): Once Dobzanski transitioned to the bullpen in 2017, he took off and hasn’t looked back since.
After putting together a tremendous first full season out of the bullpen in 2018, Dobzanski repeated that success in 2019, reaching Triple-A in the process. He posted a 2.84 ERA over 46 games, striking out 66 batters while converting eight saves in 10 chances across three levels.
His issues as a starter stemmed from trying to be too perfect. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the two-time New Jersey state wrestling champion has athleticism few baseball players possess, yet his fastball sat in the high-80s.
“As a starter, you feel like your responsibility is to go pretty deep,” Dobzanski said. “You pace yourself and not giving everything you have into every pitch. That was the wrong thing to do.”
Springfield pitching coach Darwin Marrero noticed the change in confidence compared to when he had the right-hander as a starter in State College in 2016.
“He is very aggressive,” Marrero said. “He has always been very competitive. His stuff has been growing. He has been maturing. His body is maturing right now. He can coordinate much better than years ago. You can see right now how the ball is coming out of his hand.”
Dobzanski’s heater has ticked up several miles per hour since. It’s an above-average offering at 95-97 mph and his slider has the potential to be an above-average pitch as well. With good control and command, scouts say he has the upside of a seventh-inning reliever.
With confidence and conviction on his side, Dobzanski’s vision for the future has never been clearer.
“I want to attack the offseason and get in the weight room right away, and lift some pretty heavy weight around,” Dobzanski said. “Get stronger and build that lower half. Hopefully, I’ll come back with some more mph on my fastball and a sharper slider.
“Hopefully, I’ll show out in spring training. Whatever happens there or wherever I start, next year my main goal is to end up in the big-leagues at some point. That is the target for me.”
Brian Walton (49): It has been a long haul for Dobzanski to finally return to the top 50 and give us more to talk about than his high school wresting pedigree and related athleticism. That background translated into a huge $700,000 bonus given him in 2014 (despite his 29th-round selection), which was enough cash for him to give up his scholarship to Louisville and play professional baseball instead.
After his solid 2014 debut in the Gulf Coast League, we placed the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder at no. 25 on our 2015 top prospect list. But injury that next season and good-but-not great results in his slow-but-steady progression through the system had put him among the top 50 outsiders-looking-in ever since.
Not everyone is yet convinced.
As you could tell by the individual votes above, there is a major difference in view of where Dobzanski currently sits among Cardinals prospects. Derek is attaching considerable significance to the big right-hander’s 2019 improvements, pushing a top 40 placement, while the community has yet to embrace him as a top 50 prospect in the system, barely in the top 60.
My vote is in-between, making it closest to the average. I had considered leaning further into the wind, as he clearly had been on an upward career swing. Dobzanski was our choice as the top-performing reliever in the entire system in 2018 (between Peoria and Palm Beach). Further, some readers may recall that I had identified Dobzanski as an Arizona Fall League candidate back in August. (He was not chosen.)
However, as I dug into Dobzanski’s 2019 numbers, I became a bit less excited about his season and have a better feel why he may not have been sent to the AFL.
From a total workload perspective, nothing stands out. In fact, the former starter pitched the fewest number of innings in 2019 (57) than any time in the last four years. He did make a career-high 46 appearances, though it was only an increase of four over 2018. Dobzanski has been reliable and durable, having never spent a day on the injured list in his six-year professional career.
To open the 2019 season, Dobzanski was returned to Palm Beach and continued to dominate, as one would have hoped. In fact, the High-A league honored him with a much-deserved All-Star selection, his second in a row (Midwest League, 2018). He had certainly earned his promotion to Springfield, which was announced on June 8, and did not miss a beat.
Through June and July, he posted an exceptional 1.99 ERA with 26 punchouts over his first 22 2/3 innings (16 appearances) in the Texas League.
Did he tire from there or did Double-A hitters figure him out?
Either way, in his eight August outings, Dobzanski was knocked around – to the tune of a 6.97 ERA (eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings). League batters posted a composite .357 average against him.
Still, he was given the opportunity to finish the season with Memphis. I won’t read any significance into his rough Triple-A debut, as it was only three games, but unlike his last promotion, Dobzanski was treated rudely (three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings).
Given that finish over the final month at two levels, I can see why the Cardinals did not assign him to the desert and instead sent him home to prepare for what may be his first-ever non-roster invitation to big-league spring camp.
While as noted above, Dobzanski is Rule 5-eligible, I do not project him to be protected or subsequently taken by another organization this December. A strong finish to 2019 might have convinced me otherwise. However, 2020 should provide him the chance to pitch his way into the St. Louis bullpen discussion in the second half.
I consider his ceiling to be a “4”, an MLB reliever, with some work yet ahead to achieve it (“medium” risk).
Our 2020 top 50 series continues
To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and 11 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up at the rate of one article per day into January.
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