Being selected by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft means more for Terry Doyle than an opportunity to make a big-league roster. It also improves the 26-year-old right-hander’s financial situation, which has been anything but rosy. Not only has he been augmenting his modest minor-league salary by substitute teaching in the off-season, five years ago he made a decision that cost him close to $20,000.
A math major at Boston College, Doyle was drafted in the 21st round by the Dodgers, in 2007. Despite an inconsistent junior year, he asked for more than slot, which at the time was approximately $20,000. The Dodgers declined, and Doyle returned to school with hopes of improving his draft status and receiving a similar bonus as a senior sign. Instead, he ended up settling for $1,000 after the White Sox took him in the 37th round.
Thanks to an impressive 2011 season, Doyle is about to recoup that lost money, and more. Just how much he earns will depend on whether he breaks camp with the Twins or is returned to the White Sox, but simply being on a 40-man roster means a larger paycheck.
What else does it mean, and how did the math-whiz-turned-Rule-5-selection earn himself this opportunity? Those questions were answered by Doyle, his agent, and a scout for a major-league team.
RULE 5 RAMIFICATIONS:
Doyle: “Everybody’s goal in the minor leagues is to get to the big leagues and the Rule 5 is just another opportunity to do that. The difference that it makes financially is what’s big. It’s night and day. The average minor leaguer probably makes about $1,500 a month, whereas the big-league minimum is about $480,000 a year. The difference there is life-changing. If you’re on the 40-man — which you go on when you get taken in the Rule 5 — even if you’re in the minor leagues you get about $40,000 a year, which is a significant pay raise. Of course, if I go back to the White Sox, I won’t be on a 40-man anymore.”
Graeme Paterson [agent]: “Being a first-time 40-man roster player, Terry stands to earn a significant pay raise over his previous minor-league salary. The minor-league minimum for a player on his first split contract in 2012 will be $39,000, and $78,000 for a player on his second split contract. By no means is it life-changing money, but it does represent an important milestone in a player’s career.”
Doyle: “Your benefits increase, as well. Your health insurance gets better and dental insurance becomes an option. There are also different opportunities as far as sponsorships and deals with companies like Nike, Wilson, and Rawlings. Nothing has really been presented to me yet, but hopefully something comes my way.
“Once you go on the 40-man, your contract changes. The agent contract in the minor leagues is different from the major leagues, so once you’re added to the 40-man, you need a different contract from your agent. There is always on option of switching at that point, but I won’t be. I plan to stay with Blake [Corosky] and Graeme at True Gravity Baseball.”
EARNING THE OPPORTUNITY:
Doyle: ““I think that pitching well in the Arizona Fall League is what put me over the edge and gave me the opportunity. I wasn’t thinking about the Rule 5 while I was there, though. I was hoping that if I pitched well, the White Sox themselves would add me to their 40-man. The day I left Arizona was the same day they came out with their 40-man additions and when I saw that I wasn’t added, I was a little bit disappointed and frustrated. But I realized I still had an opportunity to be added to a 40-man with the Rule 5 draft, and that opportunity was even a little bit better, because it meant that if a team took me, I’d have a chance to make a major-league roster — the 25-man roster — come the end of spring training.”
Paterson: “Terry has worked incredibly hard to put himself in this position. He has overcome adversity throughout his career and earned every promotion he has ever had based on merit. He has his work cut out for him, but everything he has accomplished to date and the way in which he goes about his business leads me to believe that he will be successful.”
Doyle: “I was listening to the draft on my computer, with my parents, at home. About 10 seconds after my name got called, my agent called. He said, “Hey, did you hear the news yet?” About two hours after the draft was over, I got a call from Terry Ryan. He basically said, “Welcome to the organization. I’m Terry Ryan, the GM, and we think you have a shot to break camp with the team. We want you to come into spring training ready to go. Show us what you can do when you get out there.’”
Major League Scout: “Doyle showed a lot of improvement this past season, and into the Fall League, and quickly rose to the top tier of available Rule 5 pitchers for this past draft. He was a no-doubt Rule 5 pick after the way he threw for scouts in the Fall League, in combination with his performance in high-A and Double-A in 2011. Big-bodied guy who has been durable outside of a minor finger laceration. He’ll have his work cut out for him to stick in the big leagues in 2012, like most Rule 5ers.”
Doyle: “I throw a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. It’s basically the standard four-pitch mix, with the two fastballs. I throw a few more two-seams than four-seams, which is a little bit different, but mostly I just try to mix it up and keep pounding the strike zone.
“I don’t have overpowering stuff, so I can’t bear down and try to get a couple of extra strikeouts. I try to keep guys off base and keep out of big innings, which means throwing strikes and keeping the ball down.”
Major League Scout: “He showed big improvements in the Fall League. He has got his body into better shape. He throws 89-93 and his fastball has plus two-seam-sink life to the arm side. He showed the ability to command the fastball to both sides of the plate with his sink. He flashed an average curveball. Changeup is still a work in progress. Solid average control.”
MATH and STATISTICS:
Doyle: “Being a math guy, I always look at numbers. Strike percentages and ground-ball rates are things where, if you can get the odds in your favor, you’re going to be more successful. That’s what I do when I pitch. I try to get as many small edges as I can.
“A lot of people aren’t good at math, especially in baseball. People struggle in math, so coaches usually keep it simple. They just say, ‘We want first-pitch strikes and we want 1-2 counts versus 2-1 counts.’ They hammer that into us every spring training. Then, during the season, if we have a stretch where we’re falling behind hitters, they’ll step up and say, ‘Look guys, we’re doing a crappy job of getting ahead; we’re trying to be too cute and we’re trying to spin off too many breaking balls. We need to get back to basics and get ahead in the count.’
“Stats are always helpful, but there are some you don’t know how to change. You can’t change something like opponents‘-batting-average-on-balls-in-play. You look at it, and it’s helpful to know what it is, but at the same time you can’t really control how they hit the ball or what happens once they do. All you can do is throw the pitch. There are small alterations that you can make — small changes — but you can’t try to reinvent the wheel. You have to go with what you’ve been successful with, and for me that‘s been throwing strikes.”
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.