Things went pretty much the same way in 2007 before he got a call on his cellphone. It was from a man that, outside of his immediate family, he respects more than just about anyone else.
He felt sure he know what the call would be. DeWitt had been receiving some shocks for some time. It began at the end of spring training when he was unexpectedly dropped back from Jacksonville, a team he felt had felt confident in making, to Class A ball again. And ever since he'd been floundering- couldn't seem to get his game in focus.
So, this call was, he just knew, the pat-on-the-back kind. You know, "You're a good player Blake. Times are tough now but you'll play through it. We all have faith in you. Keep plugging" -that sort of thing.
But it wasn't at all.
"You know Blake," the man said. "I guess I had you wrong. You're just a kid from a small town in Missouri who can't seem to take the pressure. After all, you've got a million bucks in the bank so you're set. You can go home and be a big hero even if you don't make the big leagues. You just don't seem to have what it takes."
DeWitt protested that he wasn't kind of person at all. That playing up on top was something he wanted more than anything.
"You don't seem to be doing it," was the reply.
"That" the man told Billy Shelley later "was one of the tougher things I ever had to do. This is the nicest, most polite kid you'll ever meet. But his father called me and asked me if I'd do it. He thought the shock might be what Blake needed."
Maybe it was this exercise in tough love, maybe it would have happened anyway but it was then that DeWitt got his swing back in the groove. The swing that they've always regarded as one of the purest in the system ever since DeWitt was drafted in the first round back in 2004.
The hits began falling in, often over the wall. The average climbed from the very low .200's to .298. He ripped eight homers. And they decided he had proved himself at Inland Empire just as they hoped he would and sent him on his way back to Jacksonville.
He'd been there in 2006 but that's when the trouble started for after an all-star season at Vero Beach, he hit only .183 with the Suns.
This time, though, was different. Over the last 45 games he hit .281 with six more homers and 20 runs batted in.
Part of the reason may be that he was stationed at third once again, instead of second where they tried him for awhile but where he never felt comfortable.
But a great part of it was that verbal boot in the rear when he had expected a friendly hug of a conversation. The good ones respond to challenges. He certainly has.
DeWitt was one of the more highly regarded young players around and the Dodgers have DeWitt because of a shrewd bit of drafting.
Possessed of two first round picks, their own and the Yankees (who had forfeited it for signing Paul Quantrill as a free agent) they also had a supplemental choice at the end of the round (also for losing Quantrill.) They first chose another Missourian, lefthander Scott Elbert, with the 20th pick.
"We knew the Twins had been looking at Blake hard," scouting director Logan White recalled. "They had some extra choices so we went after Blake with our next pick (28th) because we didn't feel he'd last until the supplemental round like many did."
"I didn't have any idea that the Dodgers would be the team," says Blake. "I had talked to the Twins and some other teams that had indicated they would pick me. I'm really fortunate that it turned out the way it did."
They had so much confidence in him they send him to Ogden. In a circuit loaded with players that have pro and college experience and proceeded to hit .284, including a 19-game hitting streak, with 12 home runs in just 70 games. And that right out of high school.
He had a strong season at Columbus IN 2005, batting .283 with 11 home runs. He hit even better when pulled up to Vero Beach at the end of the year (.419) and his total of 34 doubles was the organization's best. His lefthanded swing is pure, projecting to even better results down the road.
But at third Andy LaRoche was ahead of him -- and just about everybody else for that matter -- so they tried to see if second could be a better fit for DeWitt.
The experiment seems to be taking. "He's looking pretty good," Dave Anderson, organizational infield instructor who was tutoring him in camp at Dodgertown. "He's making all the plays. He looks okay on the double play."
But it didn't work out and now he's back at third -- and starting to hit again.
DeWitt will open at Jacksonville in 2008.
Blake Robert DeWitt bl tr 5-11 175 Born- August 8, 1985 Obtained- Selected in first round 2004 year team ave obp gm ab r h 2b 3b hr bi sb 2004 Ogden .284 .350 70 299 61 85 19 3 12 47 1 2005 Columb .283 .333 120 481 61 136 31 3 11 65 0 VBeach .419 .438 8 31 4 13 3 0 1 7 0 2006 VBeach .268 .339 106 425 61 114 18 1 18 61 8 Jacksn .183 .241 26 104 26 19 1 0 1 6 0 2007 InLand .298 .338 83 339 49 101 29 2 8 46 2 Jacksn .281 .306 45 178 20 50 13 1 6 20 0