'The Raptor' ready to join Reds
Dorn to report to Pioneer League after college season
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
Danny Dorn was the last of nine Cal State-Fullerton players drafted, going in the 32nd round. (Eric Francis/AP)
OMAHA -- Danny Dorn's teammates call him "The Raptor," jokingly describing the way the Cal State-Fullerton outfielder runs. While he may look a bit awkward as he moves, there is nothing unwieldy about the results he produces.
Dorn, whom the Reds selected in the 32nd round of last week's First-Year Player Draft, was one of nine Titans drafted earlier this month. While he was the last to go, it certainly isn't a reflection of what he's been able to accomplish on the field or what he means to the team that staved off elimination Sunday with a 7-5 victory over Georgia Tech at the College World Series.
Cal State-Fullerton advanced to Tuesday's second-round game against the loser of Sunday's Clemson-North Carolina match-up. Though his teammates kid him, it's obvious how integral his role has been in the Titans' success. He's battled back from a shoulder injury that could have cost him the year, and though he hasn't gotten the recognition that some of the other cleanup hitters who have reached Omaha have, it's certainly not from lack of talent.
Dorn, who will report to Cincinnati's Pioneer League affiliate in Billings, Mont., later this month, spent a month out of action earlier this season, sitting from mid-March to mid-April while he rehabbed a dislocated shoulder suffered while sliding into second base. Though he was hitting .317 at the time of the injury, he didn't have any homers and had only nine RBIs.
Since his return, he's hit four homers and driven in 33 runs in 27 games. He was also in the middle of two Titan rallies on Sunday, including the one that produced the decisive runs in the top of the ninth inning. So while he won't get the recognition of someone like Clemson's Tyler Colvin (first round, Cubs), he has no complaints.
"I don't care about the publicity," said Dorn, who is 3-for-8 with four walks and an RBI through two CWS games. "There are so many great players here. If guys are on base, I'm just trying to drive in runs and play the outfield the best I can. All the pub and the press doesn't matter much when you're out there playing."
Dorn's sixth-inning single started the game-tying rally in the sixth on Sunday. He came around to score on a triple by Brandon Tripp (12th round, Baltimore). Clark Hardman brought Tripp home to tie the game at 4-4.
The Yellow Jackets took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh on Matt Wieters' homer, a shot that a fan grabbed just before it would have settled in Dorn's glove atop the left field wall. Dorn said he never saw the fan.
"I'm not sure if it was fan interference," said Dorn, whose teammate, second baseman Justin Turner, was drafted in the seventh round by the Reds. "Some people say the ball was in my glove. But I hit the wall and I didn't feel anything. It happened so quickly, I didn't think anything of it. The fans were heckling me, but there's really nothing you can do about it. I came down and didn't have the ball in my glove. It was a little disappointing."
The shot seemed to put an end to the Titans' dreams of anther extended CWS run. And when Wieters, who came on to close the game for Tech, recorded the first two outs in the ninth with little trouble, it appeared as if Dorn would be headed to Billings earlier than he had hoped. But a single by Blake Davis and a double by Brett Pill brought Dorn to the plate for his biggest at-bat of the year.
"I was talking to Brett on the on-deck circle when Blake was up and told him they don't want me or you to get up," said Dorn, who lists Barry Bonds among his favorite players because Bonds is "the best there is."
"And the next pitch, Brett strokes a single."
Dorn didn't get the chance to play hero, though, because he was intentionally walked. But pinch-hitter Cory Vanderhook hit a slow chopper over the mound that took a funky bounce, allowing two runs to score and give the Titans a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"When you're fighting for your life, you do whatever you can," Dorn said. "When I got to first, I looked at the first base coach and said I thought we could do something special."
The Titans and Dorn did just that. And though it delayed Dorn's pro debut by a few more days, he's not worried. He says joining the Reds will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and if it takes a few more days for "The Raptor" to touch down in Montana, so be it.