Since signing the native of Aruba as an international free agent in 2010, the Oakland A's has been extremely patient with outfielder Shawn Duinkerk. The organization afford him three seasons of experience with the AZL A’s before finally giving him a shot to join an affiliate in 2015 after a solid spring.
The 6’4” outfielder is still just 20 years old, which makes him young for the Midwest League. Duinkerk joined the Beloit Snappers to open the season, but struggled prior to a brief stint in Vermont to work things out.
Duinkerk played in six games with the Lake Monsters and recorded nine hits in 24 at-bats for a slash line of .375/.423/.417. It was his first taste of the short-season level and became short-lived when the club started accumulating talent from the 2015 draft.
“I felt it was a great experience for me down at Vermont,” Duinkerk said. “I’m happy I got off to a good start and was able to make it back up here real quick and help this team get on track. I worked on my hand positioning and getting my hands in the right firing position to hit the ball. I worked on staying small and not dropping my backside and that helped me a lot.”
With the Snappers divvying up playing time among four outfielders, Duinkerk won’t have the luxury of an every-day job with the Snappers, so he’ll need to make the most out of his opportunities.
Since his return to Beloit, Duinkerk is just 1-for-12 in three games, including a four-strikeout performance Monday night at Quad Cities. His slash line resides at .224/.284/.259 across 46 Midwest League games.
The young outfielder appears to know the way to success, but will need to put that into games.
“I’ve challenged myself to lay off the curveball and slider in the dirt, see it up and always stay tall,” Duinkerk said. “I’m not focusing on the negative, but focusing on the positive. I want to get my pitch to hit and if I miss it, just be confident that I’m going to get it again and do some damage.”
Duinkerk is trying to get back to the type of hitter he was in Arizona during the spring, when he put himself on the organization’s radar by posting a batting average that hovered around .300 much of the way.
It was a marked improvement over his previous season with the AZL A’s during which he hit just .167 and posted an on-base percentage of .222 in 35 rookie-league games.
“Spring training went very well and I really progressed since last year,” he said. “Coming into this year, I felt really good and strong. I worked out a lot more on hitting this (off-season) instead of just in the gym. That helped out once I got to Arizona. Hopefully I can get back to that same feeling in the second half of the year.”