In the first week of pro ball, Blue Jays prospect Doughty lives up to the nickname ‘King Cade’

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TORONTO — As a fairly settled older kid, Cade Doughty could be a handful growing up, so much so that his mother, Jennifer, came up with a nickname: King Cade.

“I think I was a bit of a brat, to be honest,” admits the Toronto Blue Jays infield prospect selected in the second round, 78the generally last month. “It was just me being a kid who knew what I wanted to do and didn’t really have much of an interest in anything else.”

The nickname stuck, even as the stubbornness of childhood evolved into the dogged determination that became one of the 21-year-old’s trademarks during three stints at Louisiana State University, or LSU. It was there, after Jennifer mentioned it to the show’s media staff, that the King Cade moniker really took off, especially when he gained a reputation for throwing big hits over the last three seasons, when he batted .301 with 30 home runs. , 31 doubles, 124 RBI and 104 runs in 133 games.

“I can’t express how excited that makes her and just seeing King Cade brings back memories of when I was little,” he says. “She’s completely on board and she loves it.”

LSU’s Cade Doughty (4) celebrates with his teammates at home plate after his third-inning two-run home run against Georgia in an NCAA college baseball game on Friday, April 29, 2022, in Baton Rouge, La . (Hilary Scheinuk/The Defender via AP)

What Doughty loves right now is his introduction to professional baseball, having just completed his first week of games with low-A Dunedin. He’s off to a strong start, going 7-for-18 with a home run, six RBI and three walks on a team that now features several other players from his draft class, second-round infielder Josh Kasevich, third-round outfielder Alan Roden, seventh-round first baseman Peyton Williams and reliever ninth round Devereaux Harrison between them.

The group went through a two-week draft camp immediately after signing before being assigned to various stops (first-round pick Brandon Barriera, for example, is still being built at the club’s Player Development Complex in Dunedin, Florida), which gave them the opportunity to bond.

“It was an amazing experience,” Doughty says of the camp. “It was great to build a relationship with the players I play with now and also meet new people on the team. We already feel connected on the field.”

Focuses during introductory camp included learning the pro ball lifestyle and developing routines, two things Doughty believes he was well prepared for at LSU, a program in which he says, “I was almost born.” All four of his grandparents went to school as did his parents, and his father, Richard, was also a catcher for the Tigers. Older brother Braden also caught for the club, while great-grandfather Frank played basketball at school.

Under head coach Jay Johnson, the Tigers used various drills similar to what Doughty has encountered with the Blue Jays and also began to immerse themselves in advanced technologies to improve their hitting. At the Baseball Performance Lab in Baton Rouge, for example, he began using force plate data to better understand how he was taking advantage of his 6-1, 195-pound frame.

“I found that I wasn’t maximizing when my front foot lands, I didn’t have enough torque,” ​​explains Doughty. “I was able to improve that tremendously. That was just one of the things I’ve learned so far.”

The Blue Jays hitting lab at the complex offers even more tools, and as a hitter looking to get every advantage possible, Doughty intends to lean on it. “I’m very curious and open-minded to new things,” he says.

Still, as a high-contact hitter who showed more power this season leading up to the draft, the Blue Jays will also want him to keep doing what he’s been doing.

During the combined Major League Baseball draft, he was compared to Aaron Hill, the second baseman selected by the Blue Jays in the first round, 13the overall, he left LSU in 2003, an indicator of the type of player he has the potential to be.

For starters, you’ll be defensively focused on third base, your best position, as well as second base, with advance notice of where you’ll be playing the next day so you can mentally prepare ahead of time. That’s important, but the bat will carry it.

“Barrels, honestly” is how he describes his approach at the plate. “I’m going to go up there looking to do damage in the middle of the plate. I’m not really looking for a pitch. He would obviously like a fastball, but whatever is in the heart of the plate, just trying to get it to center field. If I’m a little early, I hope to split the gap, if I’m a little late, split the other gap. So I just look down the middle, trying to handle the ball and swing it well.”

Combined with his tenacious playstyle, he will have the opportunity to work his way up the system relatively quickly.

“I love the little things in the game that maybe didn’t catch the attention of normal fans, kind of a gritty ballplayer mentality,” says Doughty, who credits childhood coach Russ Johnson with instilling in him the which he calls a TNT mentality. “It doesn’t take talent to have attitude and hurry. It’s very simple, but a lot of people take it for granted or don’t remember the little things.”

For Doughty, those things are always top of mind when looking to expand King Cade’s reign.

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