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A Different Dorssys: 2014 Brings Maturity, Effort to Paulino’s Play

A Different Dorssys: 2014 Brings Maturity, Effort to Paulino’s Play

| On 01, May 2014

When walking through the Lake County Captains clubhouse this season, the scene is much the same as it was during 2013 – young players are milling about, showering, eating, recapping their games, and getting ready for the next day of their grind. However, this season, there seems to be one major difference.

Last season, there was a young player who always seemed to be leisurely strolling around the clubhouse after games. He always had a smile on his face, despite having a terrible game and having one of, if not the, highest number of individual errors in the Midwest League. He avoided reporters, partly, it seemed, out of preferring to goof around after game and partly out of an inability to effectively communicate. No one wants to answer questions about when they’re going to play to their full potential, but no one really wants to answer those questions in a language they don’t natively speak or understand.

This season, however, Dorssys Paulino is taking a bit of a different approach to the locker room. This season, he can be found on the stationary bikes working out after games, practicing his English which, though still broken, has shown improvement since the last time he was in Eastlake. In short, this season, Dorssys Paulino has matured.

His professional maturity is not just evident in the clubhouse, but on the field, as well. Though his performances have not been without flaw, his overall showing on the 2014 field has been one of improvement over his past season in Lake County.

In 2013, Paulino hit .246 with a .646 OPS. He had 117 total hits, 28 doubles, three triples, and five home runs, stole 12 bases, and hit in 46 runs. However, he had an amazing – and discouraging – 39 errors on the season.

His 39 errors and sloppy style of play gave pause to those watching Paulino and hearing rumors of his skill and potential as a prospect in the organization. Even his numbers at the plate, while not awful, were not the outstanding stats that fans had been told to expect from the shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. Paulino had been described by scouting reports prior to 2013 as a hitter with “outstanding gap power” and the “ability to hit for average,” and Baseball America gave him the title of “best hitter for average in the Indians system.”

Yes, 2013 was hard for the young shortstop. However, that was just the case – Paulino was, and still is, quite young. He was born in November of 1994, making him just 19 years old in his third season playing with the Indians. Paulino was signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2011, and started his playing career in 2012 with the Arizona League Indians and Mahoning Valley Scrappers. 2013 was his first full season in professional ball, making his struggles to acclimate to the professional setting much more understandable.

And, yes, it has only been a year since that fateful season, but what a difference the off-season seems to have made. From the first few games of the season, it has been obvious that Paulino is beginning to come into his own as a player.

So far in 2014, as of April 29, Paulino is hitting .231 with a .604 OPS. He was 21 hits, six doubles, and one triple, posts five RBI, and has stolen one base. Paulino has walked seven times and has been fanned a total of 25 times in 22 games for the Captains. On the field, Paulino still has glimmers of the player he was last season, as he has 12 errors on the season already. However, he has also turned eight double plays and been involved in 44 assists.

The entire season will not be smooth sailing for the youngster. He is playing with older players, players who have been through the college system and have more professional experience, players who are more acclimated to the country in which they are playing. However, Paulino’s improvements, both on and off the field, are nothing to disregard.

Despite not having seen Paulino play last season, Manager Mark Budzinski is one of the first to recognize the strengths that seem to be emerging in Paulino’s play this season. At the beginning of the season, Budzinski acknowledged that Paulino looked comfortable on the field, and was surpassing the expectations that had been set in place based on his lackluster 2013.

“Obviously, I have not seen him before,” Budzinski said of Paulino after the team’s exhibition game against the Akron RubberDucks on April 1. “He’s worked hard. He made a nice play on a chopper coming in. [Whoever hit it] was a pretty good runner, he came in on a high chopper at third, made a good play to throw in the run. He looked great out there. Approaches the ball well, coming to get it, and hands look nice and soft. Very pleased with his efforts.”

“Getting in a good position where he can use his hands, making good plays in the field and throwing the ball well over to first,” Budzinski said about Paulino during the start of the regular season. “He worked his butt off in Spring Training, and he continues to do so.”

A little effort can go a long way. Again, yes, there will be hiccups – no player is perfect. However, Paulino is showing fans glimpses this season of the player he was drafted to be. No, he is no Francisco Lindor (but really, who is?), and he may never be – but he wasn’t drafted to be Lindor. That doesn’t mean that Paulino, the player coming into his own, isn’t someone fans can get behind and hope to see do much more for the organization. He is showing fans, and the team, the difference that one offseason can make. Imagine what he’ll look like next year, and even toward the end of this season. As long as he maintains the hard work ethic he’s developed, Paulino has every chance to turn things around and become the prospect fans have heard he could be.

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer