Randy Dobnak gets $9.25M from Twins; in USPBL, he made $700/month, plus cheap eats

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

It wasn't long ago that Randy Dobnak was grinding out a professional baseball career at the lowest of rungs, in Utica, pitching for $700 a month.

But at least he got all the cheap eats he could consume at Jimmy John's Field.

On Monday, Dobnak signed a five-year extension with the Minnesota Twins that will pay him $154,166 for the next 60 months. The free ballpark franks have been replaced by a $100 daily per diem.

Randy Dobnak, who began his pro career in the USPBL, has signed an extension with the Minnesota Twins.

Dobnak, 26, has emerged as the biggest success story from the United Shore Professional Baseball League, which has sent 38 players on to contracts with Major League Baseball organizations.

Dobnak is the only one of those 38 to reach the major leagues, debuting in 2019, and even pitching against the New York Yankees in that year's postseason.

Before reaching the majors, he famously drove for Uber to make extra cash.

Dobnak, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound (not including the specs and heavy mustache) right-hander, signed with the Twins in August 2017, for a $500 signing bonus, after pitching for the USPBL's Utica Unicorns. He had just gone undrafted — 1,215 players got drafted that year — out of Alderson Broaddus in West Virginia when he latched onto the USPBL, under manager and long-time major-leaguer Jim Essian.

Just two years after signing with the Twins, he was pitching at Comerica Park.

"It's crazy to think that was only two years ago," Dobnak told The News in September 2019.

Dobnak, a South Park, Pennsylvania native, was 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in nine appearances (five starts) in 2019, then was 6-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts during the shortened 2020 season. He's averaging six strikeouts per nine innings in the major leagues.

His new contract also includes three options years at the back end.

Imagine that, options. He didn't have those four years ago. But at least he had the free hot dogs.

The four-team USPBL starts its sixth season this spring, with capacity limits increased after playing the 2020 season in front of 100 fans a game.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984