It was only a matter of time before Donnie Dewees got told he was being promoted to Myrtle Beach.
And after hitting .345/.394/.583 with eight doubles and six triples in 21 games in April, there probably wasn’t too many that thought it would take a trade in late July to pave his way to the Carolina League.
But his next two months were nothing like his first three weeks in the Midwest League. Over a 46-game stretch in May and into June, Dewees hit just .211/.277/.331.
“Sometimes you get tired, sometimes you get a little kink in your swing, any little thing can really set you off and it gets in your head and you try to do your best and not let that happen,” Dewees said of the slump. “Sometimes its really uncontrollable and affects you more than one game at a time but that’s just something you have to grind though mentally.”
And grind through it he did, along with the help of his hitting coach.
“He started out hot but they figured him out and adjusted,” South Bend hitting coach Guillermo Martinez told NorthSidersReport. “He gets pull happy a lot of the time so we’re trying to get him to use the rest of the field.”
Martinez said Dewees is a bright kid and has plenty of tools, including the necessary bat speed.
“He has tons of ability but its all about learning how to hit,” Martinez said of Dewees. “He has a tendency to be very aggressive with his stride in the box and we’ve been working on quieting him down.”
The changes have been working as Dewees closed out his Low A resume by hitting .349/.395/.415 over the final 27 games and the MWL all-star finished his tour in South Bend with a .282/.337/.414 slash with 3 HR, 54 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a MWL best 12 triples.
Dewees is happy with the progress he’s made since being the 47th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
“Its been pretty good so far,” Dewees said. “I put in a lot of work this off-season and the biggest thing to adjust to has been the pitching.”
A relatively unknown and without any major scholarship offers, Dewees ended up at North Florida and after missing most of his sophomore season with a broken wrist, got to play in the Cape Cod League.
“Cape was a big help,” Dewees said of his time in the top summer league. “Its kinda similar to professional baseball. Definitely helped the next year and things became a little simpler for me.”
Simpler indeed as he was named the 2015 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year after hitting .422 with 18 homers and 68 RBI. After signing with the Cubs, Dewees spent his first 68 pro games in Eugene, batting .266/.306/.376 with five homers and 19 stolen bases.
While it will likely be his hit tool and speed that propel him to the majors, Dewees is working hard on his defense.
“I think I’ve improved quite a bit defensively,” Dewees told NSR. “In the beginning of year, there were a lot of guys that were wondering if I could stick in center field. I think I’ve changed a few guys minds and showed what I can really do out there.”
Dewees is not only working on his routes, but improving his speed and competing every day.
That’s something that you can always work at and always get better at,” Dewees said of getting good jumps and taking solid routes. “Same thing with the speed aspect of it. Go out and train all off-season you get better at it, come back and everybody is working for a spot, everybody is working to get that spot in center field but whoever trains the hardest, works the hardest and performs the best will get it.”
If there’s one criticism of his game, its his arm, which is considered below average but there’s a reason for the not-so-kind scouting reports.
“I definitely have a good arm but I’ve had more of a soreness and tightness—some kind of knot—that really affected it but now its starting to get better and going away,” Dewees said of his arm issues. “My arm is getting a lot better throughout the year. Spring training and the beginning of the year it bothered me a bit but throwing every day, its been getting stronger.”
Dewees should see plenty of time in center field for the Pelicans to close out the 2016 year and should return to the Carolina League for the start of 2017. You can expect him to make his AA debut sometime next year, and could be knocking on the door at Wrigley in 2018.