Nearly 11 months after getting drafted, Red Sox pitching prospect Hunter Dobbins made his professional debut for Low-A Salem on Sunday night.
Pitching in front of 2,017 spectators at Carillion Clinic Field, the right-hander got the start and allowed two earned runs on four hits, one walk, and one strikeout over three innings of work in Salem’s 7-4 win over the Columbia Fireflies.
After retiring six of the first eight batters he faced, Dobbins gave up three straight hits — two of which produced runs — to begin things in the top half of the third. Following a brief mound visit from Salem pitching coach Nick Green, he bounced back by fanning Carter Jensen and getting Guillermo Quintana to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Of the 45 pitches Dobbins threw on Sunday, 30 went for strikes and five of those were whiff-inducing. The 22-year-old now owns an ERA of 6.00 and will likely start again for Salem in its next series against the Charleston RiverDogs later this week.
The Red Sox originally selected Dobbins in the eighth round of last year’s amateur draft out of Texas Tech University and signed the native Texan for $197,500.
One of the primary reasons Dobbins fell to the eighth round was because the righty had just undergone Tommy John surgery in March, which resulted in him missing the entirety of his junior season with the Red Raiders.
As a sophomore during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Dobbins posted a 1.35 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 25 strikeouts to just five walks over six appearances (three starts) spanning 20 innings pitched.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-2, 185 pounder throws from a three-quarters arm slot and — prior to going under the knife — operated with a four-pitch mix that consisted of a 91-94 mph fastball that reached 98 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, a circle changeup that evolved from a split-fingered change, and a slider.
Dobbins, who turns 22 in August, is not yet regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. He was, however, identified by FanGraphs back in March as “enviable bullpen depth” given his ability to miss bats with both his curveball and changeup in college.
With that being said, SoxProspects.com notes that Dobbins still has a “wide range of outcomes” when it comes to his career outlook on account of the uncertainty surrounding what kind of pitcher he will be post-Tommy John.
If he can pitch similarly to the way he did in 2021, though, Dobbins represents another intriguing addition for the Red Sox’ minor-league pitching pipeline.
(Picture of Hunter Dobbins courtesy of the Salem Red Sox)