Professional scouts didn’t think much about Ryan Doran.
The Spokane Indians didn’t know much about Doran.
Now the Indians know more about him and scouts might be changing their minds.
Doran threw eight strong innings in his Northwest League debut Sunday afternoon to guide the Hillsboro Hops to a 5-1 win over Spokane in the middle game of a five-game series at Avista Stadium.
Doran allowed six singles and one earned run, struck out seven and walked none as the Hops won their second consecutive game in the series to lead the season series 5-3.
Doran, out of San Diego State University, signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in June and was assigned to the Arizona Rookie League. He caught some attention there by striking out 64 and walking six in 56 1/3 innings, earning him a promotion Tuesday to Hillsboro.
“I was never really recruited,” said the right-hander, a native of Newport Beach, Calif. “Everybody thought I was undersized (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) with not a lot of power. I feel like I have something to prove, definitely.”
“He was an off-speed guy,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “He didn’t challenge a lot of guys with his fastball. … He just commanded the strike zone well. He didn’t make a lot of mistake pitches.”
Doran was hesitant to leave Arizona because of the friendships he made, but he joins a Hops team that has turned its season around after an 11-27 first half. The Hops, 13-11 in the second half, trail Salem-Keizer by three games in the South Division with 14 games left in the season.
“Definitely our goal is to try to make the playoffs and try to win the second half,” Doran said. “If we get hot in the playoffs, anything can happen.”
Spokane (12-12 second half) still leads the North Division, but Everett pulled within one game with a 6-2 win over Eugene. Vancouver remained two games back after a 15-5 loss to Salem-Keizer.
Doran and Indians starter Kelvin Vasquez dominated the game. Vasquez surrendered a solo homer to right-center to the second batter he faced, Brian Billigen, before throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks.
“Once he got through the second inning today, he started throwing his changeup again and was a lot better,” Hulett said. “He breezed through four innings.”
The Indians reached Doran for three hits in the second inning, capped by Barrett Serrato’s one-out RBI single to right. Doran ended the uprising with two strikeouts, starting a streak of 12 consecutive Indians set down.
“I just try to go deep into games and try to give the team a chance to win,” Doran said. “That’s just how I pitch.”
Hillsboro scored the go-ahead run in the eighth when Luis Pollorena (1-1) hit George Roberts with a pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out. Pollorena coaxed a double play and pop foul to keep the score 2-1, but Hillsboro reached reliever Justin Sprenger in the ninth for three earned runs.
“Our guys threw well today until late in the game and then the pitching and the defense kind of fell apart together,” Hulett said. “That’s a bad combination. That’s really an oddity for us.”