Texas notes: Naturals' Dewees heating up in June

Royals' No. 11 prospect impressing with bat after sluggish start

Northwest Arkansas outfielder Donald Dewees has raised his batting average from .218 to .251 this month. (Shane Roper/MiLB.com)

By Troy Schulte / Special to MiLB.com | June 30, 2017 11:30 AM ET

When Donald Dewees looked at his numbers at the end of May, the Northwest Arkansas outfielder didn't panic. He didn't wonder whether his first stint at Double-A came before he was ready. 

"The pitching is a little bit better, but it's nothing that I can't handle," Dewees said. "I knew it would turn around eventually."

He didn't have to wait long.

Dewees homered, doubled and singled twice while driving in four runs in a win at Frisco on June 1. It was the first of nine multi-hit games in June, helping raise his average from .218 entering the month to .255 at the Texas League All-Star break earlier this week. Dewees is hitting .326 and slugging. 551 in June with three of his five home runs and 15 of his 31 RBIs coming this month. 

The 23-year-old isn't surprised. He didn't even make too many adjustments as the slump lingered through the season's first two months. He talked with manager Vance Wilson and hitting coach Leon Roberts, but avoided any mechanical changes. 

"I kept my confidence. I stayed with it," said Dewees, the Royals' No. 11 prospect. "I've gone through a few slumps before. It happens to everybody. You just have to work out the kinks and stay with it."

The result is a June more like that of a former second-round pick. Dewees was undrafted out of high school, then broke his wrist as a sophomore at North Florida. He broke out in 2015 when he hit 18 home runs, which earned him unanimous All-American honors and his selection in the second round by the Cubs. 

He flashed his speed with 14 triples across two levels last year, then just as he was ready to start another spring with the Cubs, he was traded to the Royals

Video: Dewees' two-RBI triple for Naturals

"I didn't see it coming," he said. "but I think it's a great opportunity."

He's taking advantage now after a rough start in his Double-A debut. 

His 29 hits and 11 extra-base hits in June rank seventh among Texas league players, and his five triples on the season are tied for the league lead. 

One thing that hasn't translated from his college game is the power -- he has five home runs this year and 15 halfway through his third pro season. But Dewees isn't in a big hurry to add another element, saying his focus is hitting against defensive shifts and getting on base so that his speed can become a factor. 

"It's something I can work toward," he said of his power. "Right now, I really need to work on my average and getting on base. The power will come. A lot of people have that problem -- they try to hit the ball too hard and too far, and it's something I'm steering away from."

In brief

Rough start: A.J. Puk's time in the Texas League has gotten off to a rocky start. Puk, the sixth overall pick in the 2016 Draft by the Oakland Athletics, was promoted from Class A Advanced Stockton earlier this month. He gave up three runs while striking out four over seven innings in his June 10 debut, then gave up four runs in 1/3 of an inning on June 24. Puk, the Athletics' No. 2 prospect who is ranked sixth among all left-handed pitchers, had a 3.69 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 61 innings over 11 starts at Stockton.

More power: One of the traits that helped earn Kyle Tucker a promotion hasn't eluded him in his first trip to the Texas League. The Astros' No. 2 prospect was promoted to Corpus Christi on May 30 and has hit six home runs in less than a month at Double-A with 17 RBIs and a .514 slugging percentage. Tucker, the fifth overall pick in 2015, hit .288 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs at Class A Advanced Buies Creek before being promoted. 

Season high: Tulsa starter Walker Buehler struck out 10 batters in five innings, his highest total in eight Double-A starts this year. Buehler, the 24th pick in 2015, has a 3.28 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings for Tulsa after missing all of 2015 and most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

Troy Schulte is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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