When the Oakland A's selected Sean Doolittle in the supplemental first round in 2007, they had a decision to make. The University of Virginia star had a distinguished career as both a first baseman and a left-handed starting pitcher for the Cavaliers. The A's chose to have Doolittle pursue his professional career at a first baseman, and, for a time, that looked like the prudent decision.
In 2008, Doolittle batted .305 with a 945 OPS in 86 games for the High-A Stockton Ports. He finished that season in a bit of a slump with Double-A Midland -- batting only .254 with a 699 OPS -- but a strong showing at the Arizona Fall League left Doolittle as one of the A's top position player prospects heading into the 2009 season.
Doolittle was invited to major league spring training in 2009, and he spent much of that spring in the outfield. He impressed the A's coaching staff with his energy and solid play both at the plate and in the field. The A's sent Doolittle to Triple-A Sacramento to start that season and he got off to a fast start, batting .267 with an 812 OPS.
Unfortunately, Doolittle would play in only 28 games that year. He injured his knee in early May. The knee injury wound up costing him the rest of the 2009 season and all of the 2010 campaign.
Coming into 2011, there was optimism that the knee injury was finally behind him. Doolittle was added to the A's 40-man roster during the off-season and he got some time with the big league club during spring training. Although limited by some soreness during spring training, Doolittle looked on-track for a return to the field in May when he injured his wrist on a swing. The wrist injury was a torn tendon. Doolittle has been rehabbing the injury ever since, but it hasn't responded as well as he or the team would have hoped.
Given the three lost years of development, the A's and Doolittle felt it was finally time to have a fresh start and move back to the mound. In college, Doolittle was one of the top left-handers in the nation. During his three years at UVa, he never had an ERA above 2.40. In 2006, he had his best season, going 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 108 strike-outs in 90.2 innings. In 2007, his final year on the mound, Doolittle went 8-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 69 strike-outs in 82.1 innings.
Sean won't be the only member of the Doolittle clan on the mound in the A's organization next season. His younger brother Ryan is a pitching prospect in the A's system, as well. Ryan, a right-hander, has also battled injuries the past two seasons. He had a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 innings with a 24:3 K:BB ratio for Stockton earlier this season before an elbow problem sidelined him. The younger Doolittle finished the year rehabbing with the A's Rookie League team.