003 : The Player Experience - Cole Doherty

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It’s our pleasure to interview Cole Doherty about his journey through college baseball. Cole hails from Round Rock, TX and passed through Blinn Junior College on his way to the University of Portland. This LHP has a unique baseball experience, and we are excited to share it.

What did you play, where did you play, and what was that experience like?

I played baseball at the University of Portland in the WCC conference. My experience at UP was incredible; playing baseball at a D1 university in an awesome city was more than I could have ever hoped for. Growing up in Austin, TX and having never been to the west coast before, I got to experience a whole new part of the country doing the thing I loved most.

Why baseball?

I grew up playing baseball, football, and basketball. But I developed a very strong connection with baseball at a young age. It was something I enjoyed striving to be better at every day, whether that was throwing bullpens, long-tossing, or hitting the gym. I was always trying to find an edge over everyone else and trying to better myself as a player and pitcher. I was also surrounded by numerous role models that came before me at my high school, which was very motivating to try and follow in their collegiate and professional footsteps.

What did your training look like at UP? What does it look like now?

Training for me during my baseball career at UP was mainly focused on pitching mechanics, flexibility, and arm strength. We would have weights early in the morning, which was geared toward strengthening the lower half of the body, as well as various shoulder workouts with dumbbells. During afternoon practices, the pitching staff would run through arm band exercises and long-toss to increase velocity off the mound. Long runs and cardio were also a huge part of our training. My diet was focused on eating as many calories as I can-with really no structure-to keep my energy levels up for the long season.

Today, my workouts are very different since my baseball career is over. I focus on the three big lifts (squat, bench, clean) with different circuits and supersets mixed in that pertain to the part of the body I’m focusing on that day. Unlike in baseball, I try to get to the gym 6 days a week with a rest day/long-run day mixed in. My diet consists of counting macros and carb-cycling geared toward fat loss and muscle gain.

Tell us what a typical day in the life looks like as a college baseball player.

During my career at UP, a typical day would consist of an early morning workout (on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) at 5:30am, then off to class. Practice would start around 2, and would end around 6. Then we would have study hall from 7-9pm. The workload was a lot to get used to at first, but you very quickly fall into a rhythm and learn how to adapt to the full day of work.  

What was a major hurdle for you to play D1 baseball at a top conference?

The biggest hurdle I faced during my career was my velocity. I had a nice advantage being left handed, however my velocity was never above average. So I had to compensate with really focusing on accuracy and pitch location. I still was able to get D1 batters out, despite not being able to throw 90+, and had a good career that I’m proud of. 

What are your goals going forward? Where do you want to be in 1 year? 

The big goal I have today is getting myself to a 10-12% body fat range, while adding as much lean muscle mass as I can. Going to the gym and working out is something that I am really passionate about, and reaching that goal is something I am really motivated to accomplish. This is something that I would have placed more of a focus on during my baseball career. Having a strict workout and diet plan has massive benefits to any athlete trying to compete at the next level.

What are the obstacles to you meeting your goals? 

Since baseball is over, the biggest obstacle is simply just everyday work life. There are some days where I work 12-13 hours and am not able to go to the gym. When those days happen, I place extra focus on my diet and make sure I’m not going over my macronutrients.

What was the best thing about playing baseball at the University of Portland?

The best thing about playing baseball at UP was playing in the West Coast Conference and getting to travel to really awesome cities. We traveled to every major city on the West Coast multiple times, playing teams like Oregon, Oregon State, USC, UCLA, Arizona, BYU, San Diego, Pepperdine, San Francisco, and more. With teammates that I loved being around, playing at UP was an unforgettable experience. 

Over your career, who are some teammates you really enjoyed playing with? 

I was fortunate enough to play with some really awesome teammates over my career, including some that are playing at the Major League level. I played two summers for the Corvallis Knights with Nick Madrigal, who is currently playing second base for the Chicago White Sox. I also played with a handful of pitchers that are playing in the minors right now, as well as my catcher from UP, Cooper Hummel, who is currently in Triple-A with the Brewers. 

Who do you love to watch or who model your play after?

John Danks was someone who I tried to model my game after, as well as Mark Buehrle. He was also a left handed pitcher who had a very successful MLB career. Not only was he an All-Star, but his fastball would top out around 87-89mph. This inspired me a lot because I was never someone who would throw a fastball past somebody. During the recruiting process out of high school, I was told by a lot of D1 teams that I didn’t throw hard enough. So seeing someone at the highest level pitching in the mid-80s gave me hope that I can make it.

 Who has inspired you to keep playing?

I was lucky enough to play with a lot of guys that inspired me to get better and work harder, but John Danks is the guy I looked up to the most and inspired me. I grew up with him as my neighbor, and I got to see first hand what it was like to make it all the way to the MLB. He was a left handed pitcher from my High School, and was the 9th overall pick in the 2003 draft. I got to witness his work ethic and how the process worked going from High School, to the Minors, to the Majors. 

Any classic or funny stories you’d like to share about your player experience?

During my Junior year at UP, we were playing Gonzaga at home and towards the end of the game my pitching coach wanted me to throw an easy flat-ground in the bullpen because I was starting the next day. The game ended up getting really close so we started to warm our closer up on the mound next to me, who was right handed. When it came time to put him in, our head coach walked out onto the field and accidentally touched his left arm, signaling that he wanted a lefty to come into the game. By rule, whatever arm the coach touches, that player has to go in and at least throw a pitch. Since I wasn’t playing that day, I was in shorts and tennis shoes and ended up having to put on our closers baseball pants and cleats. Long story short, I finished throwing my “flat-ground” in a tie ballgame in the 9th inning. Yes, we won.

How can you describe the recruiting process for college, and the draft process into professional sports?

The recruiting process for me was very different than someone who was highly ranked in high school. I was always an above average pitcher, but didn’t have a lot of schools coming after me due to the fact that I threw low to mid 80s. I sent many teams game video and had to personally reach out to them to get them to notice. After a stressful senior year summer of not knowing where I was going to college, Blinn Junior College reached back out to me and offered me. After two great years there, I was back to square one looking for a place to finish my college career. Thankfully, since Blinn made it to the JUCO World Series, I had teams reaching out to me and making me offers. I was very excited about the D1 offer from UP and quickly committed to them. 

What tools and resources did you lean on to further your success?

For my baseball career, I leaned heavily on my pitching coach, Larry Casian, at UP to further my success. He played 15+ years in the MLB and was a wealth of knowledge when it came to proper mechanics and drills. Today, I lean on my diet/lifting programs to further my success in my fitness journey. There are many great apps that help me calculate my macros as well as track my workouts. 

What is a piece of advice you’d want a young player coming through the ranks to know?

The best piece of advice I can give is don’t underestimate the benefit of going to the gym and lifting weights. During my playing career, I didn’t utilize the gym as much as I should have and I believe it could have really helped me during my career. Today, I go to the gym 6+ days a week and I am bigger/stronger/faster than I have ever been. The big leaguers you see on TV today all have a strict lifting program and diet, that work ethic is what sets them apart from the rest.

Follow Cole @cole_doherty