There's an old saying that claims nobody's perfect. If that's the case, in 2010, Ryan Doolittle has been as close to perfect as somebody can be.
During his 16 innings with short-season A Vancouver, Doolittle surrendered just three runs, and zero earned runs, while striking out 18 batters and walking one. His success earned him a promotion to the Low-A Kane County Cougars on Monday.
"It's a great feeling," Doolittle said of his promotion. "I pitched really well in Vancouver, and I got rewarded, and now I'm up here."
The 22-year old was a 26th round selection in the 2008 draft, but his minor league career had been a rough one until 2010. Doolittle spent 2008 in Arizona with the A's Rookie League squad, and he missed the entire 2009 season due to a strained UCL. Now that he's back to full health, Doolittle hasn't had any troubles.
Doolittle was thrilled with the promotion.
"[I was] excited to move up a level, it's always a good feeling," Doolittle said. "I wasn't really sure if anything was going to happen, but I'm just excited to play."
Ryan will play in Kane County for the first time, but he isn't the first Doolittle to play for the Cougars. His older brother, Sean, played for the Cougars during the 2007 season. Ryan is the third current Cougars player to have a brother also play for Kane County as an A's minor leaguer, joining teammates Josh Lansford (Jared, '06) and Myrio Richard (Michael, '08).
The key to Doolittle's success this season has been his aggressiveness. Doolittle rarely throws a ball, and his approach is simple: just throw strikes.
"I just went out there and did my thing," Doolittle said. "You try not to think about numbers too much, just go out there and pound the strike zone and let it happen."
Doolittle's aggressiveness stands out to his teammates as his greatest strength on the mound. During their 16 games together in Vancouver, current Cougars infielder/catcher Chris Affinito saw that a lot that he liked about Doolittle's presence on the mound.
"[He's] really aggressive, that's one of the biggest things I like about him," Affinito said. "He's not afraid to go right after hitters to challenge guys and pitch inside."
The aggressive mound presence of Doolittle comes as second nature, but can also be credited to an organizational philosophy passed down to all pitchers in the Oakland system and Doolittle believes that it has helped him develop as a pitcher.
"It's pretty much the same thing throughout the organization," Doolittle said. "Go after hitters, attack, pound the strike zone, get ahead, stay ahead, and pitch to your strengths."
When he arrived in Kane County, Doolittle immediately met with Cougars pitching coach Jimmy Escalante. Escalante expressed excitement about adding his new pitcher to his staff, and hopes for continued success from his time in Vancouver.
"I always like warriors to come in here and attack the zone, and go after hitters, and not guys who are nitpicking," Escalante said.
"Time will tell if he brings his A game here, then there will be a lot of things opening up for him."
The newest Cougars pitcher has a locker and jerseys, but that's about it. His role has yet to be determined. In 2008, Doolittle had a 7.91 ERA in the bullpen, but a 1.98 ERA as a starter. However, he was a valuable member of the back end of Vancouver's bullpen during his time there. Regardless of his role, Doolittle looks to continue doing what he was doing with Vancouver.
"I'm not sure if I'm going to come out of the pen or start, but one way or another, I'd just like to throw my innings and get my work in," Doolittle said.