If you have been around Indians’ minor league camp the past few days, you may have noticed a very young player with the name “Dolan” on the back.
Your first guess would be right that the player is the son of Indians owner Paul Dolan. But your next guess would be wrong that he is out there just having fun and enjoying the benefits of being the son of a man that owns a baseball team. He is actually a very good baseball player and is taking the opportunity seriously.
Peter Dolan, 17, is a junior at Gilmour Academy located in Gates Mills, Ohio and plays on the varsity baseball team. Last season he hit .383 with 22 RBI in 88 plate appearances as a sophomore, and this season he figures to once again be a key component to the team at third base and is also their closer.
Peter is seizing the unique opportunity to practice with one of the Indians’ minor league teams all week. He arrived in camp on Saturday and will return home to the Cleveland area on Sunday, but the chance to practice and learn from some of the best coaches and instructors around is something he hopes to take something away from and make some strides in his development as a player.
“I love it,” Dolan said after practice on Wednesday morning. “I have so much respect for these guys getting up at six o’clock every morning lifting and then going through the whole routine of hitting, running and throwing every day. It is a grind and tough.”
For a week, the young Dolan is living and practicing like a minor leaguer. He wakes up at 6:30 every day, heads over to the Goodyear complex to have breakfast, and then lifts with a trainer to help strengthen his core. Once he is done with that he heads to the batting cages to do some early work for a half hour, and then returns to the clubhouse where he has a half hour to an hour to relax before minor league practice kicks up at 9:00 or 9:30 each morning.
He then heads down to the fields with the rest of the minor league players and does everything they do with stretching, throwing and then breaking for drills to do things such as PFPs (pitcher fielding practice), pop up drills, first and third situations, and so on. From there he does more cage work, takes some groundballs, and then takes batting practice.
Everyone breaks for lunch around 11:30 and then minor league games start up at 1:00 in the afternoon. While he does sit in the dugout, he is not permitted to play in any minor league games.
His father and owner of the Indians Paul Dolan has been watching him every day at practice, and even attended a few of the minor league games even though Peter was not playing. Peter has done some things with the team in the past, but nothing to this extent and it has been fun for his father to observe.
“He has taken practice a little bit over the last couple of years, but this is the first year that he has a week totally immersed with one of our minor league teams,” Paul Dolan said. “Because I have seen it a few times I am somewhat used to it, but it just makes the game that much more personal because you are watching your own child out there playing. He is holding his own. Fortunately, our guys look better than him, but he is doing a nice job for a junior in high school.”
The opportunity is something that Peter hopes he can learn from. He has been playing baseball since he was a young boy and has played on travel baseball teams for most of his youth baseball life. In addition to playing for Gilmour Academy he also plays for a summer team that travels around the country. With all of the time and energy put into baseball the past few years, and now this week of “camp” with the Indians minor leaguers, he hopes it helps him as he pursues his dream of playing baseball in college.
“I definitely want to play baseball in college,” Peter said. “I am not entirely sure where yet. I have made visits to the University of Michigan and Fordham in New York City, but I am looking all over the place and I could end up anywhere. The academics at Michigan are a big draw, and the same with Fordham, as they are both excellent academic schools.”
It is one thing to practice as a minor leaguer for a week, but to do it day in and day out as a professional is a different story. When asked if he would ever be interested in the grind of the minors if he were ever drafted, Peter’s eyes lit up at the thought.
“If the opportunity presented itself — and I have to do a lot of work and get a lot better — it would be a really cool opportunity,” Peter said. “I mean, these guys play baseball all day. What else could you want? Baseball has been my favorite sport ever since I was so young.”
His father has been around the game for some time now, so he knows that while there are some exciting moments there are also a lot of frustrating ones as well. But whatever path his son goes down, he will be there to support him.
“He will play college baseball somewhere, I am just not sure where yet,” Paul Dolan said. “It is his life and he will make his decisions. The game will dictate what those decisions are and when they are, but it is up to him. He drives it himself and he is very passionate about the game.”
Peter is also a very passionate Indians fan and is as excited about the upcoming season as a lot of fans are these days.
“The buzz has been incredible,” Peter said. “Usually right now it is all about the Cavs or what the Browns are doing in the offseason, but it has been all Indians so far, so I am excited. All the other pieces are in place [with the lineup and bullpen], so the starting pitching is what we have to really worry about right now.”
As the Indians get set to open their season in a few days, Peter’s Gilmour team is hopeful of making a run at the state title. He hopes that by the end of the season that he has a state title in tow and that at the same time his baseball path has become much clearer.
“The Gilmour team is looking really good,” Pete said. “We have lots of seniors coming back. Pretty much all of our starters and pitchers are coming back so we are going to have a good team, so my first goal is to win a state championship which would be incredible. Second to that, I just want to improve myself as a teammate and become a better baseball player by getting bigger and faster for scouts.”