By Todd Johnson
I think Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs predicted Mekkes’ current success best when he said,
As you’re certainly aware, a strong college performance doesn’t come close to guaranteeing success at higher levels. But certain characteristics — such as strikeout rate — are predictive of success in the majors. Mekkes posted one of the top strikeout rates in the country in one of the top college conferences in the country. My math says that bodes very well for his future.
In part one of my interview last week with Dakota Mekkes, Mekks talked about his daily routine, differences in coaching in the Cubs’ system, the adjustments he made moving up a level, and using video . Today, in part two of that interview, Mekkes discusses his deceptive delivery, the effect it has on hitters, and possibly being promoted to Tennessee.
In talking with other people, Mekkes’ biggest strength is his deceptive delivery. He throws his fastball in the low 90s. Former South Bend teammate Chad Hockin said, “He just hides the ball really well. He doesn’t pitch from his height, though. He really gets deep on his stride.” In other words, a 92 mph fastball from Mekkes could look 96 or 97 to a hitter.
Mekkes said the following about the evolution of his deception and delivery.
“I’ve just kind been like this my whole life.I don’t really use my height to my advantage, I think I really use my length. I kinda crouch down, but I get a nice long stride and try to stride as far as I can and then I release the ball as close to home as I can. I try to give the hitter a split second less time. I try to cut down the time as much as possible. I’m not a guy that throws too hard.”
I discussed some of the swings I have seen and how I could not believe the ugliness of the swings. He responded, “It’s kinda confusing to me almost. I will throw a fastball like 90 and he’ll be behind it. I just attribute that to my length.”
After talking about the differences in temperature and humidity between South Bend and Myrtle I asked him if he uses rosin out on the mound.
“I’m not a real rosin guy. I like to have complete control of the ball. Sometimes, I will lick my fingers. The rosin could be too sticky or not sticky enough. I never know what I might get. I am a big guy and I sweat a lot but I find another way to keep my arm and hand as dry as possible.”
At Myrtle Beach so far, Mekkes has made 13 appearances and thrown 22.2 innings. Amazingly, he has yet to allow a run in that span. He’s struck out 25 and opponents are only hitting .154 against him. He has walked 12. At South Bend, h made 18 appearances with 31 IP, 47 Ks, 14 BBs, and a .133 batting average against. His ERA was 0.55 when he was promoted.
As for the next step, I talked to Dakota about being promoted and whether the Cubs talked to him about what he needs to accomplish to get to AA Tennessee.
“They haven’t really said too much. I just go about my business and hopefully let my performance speak for itself. Whatever happens, happens. If I get moved up I do. If I stay here, either way, I’m happy.”
With less than six weeks left in the season, I would think a promotion to AA would have to happen in the next two weeks. Then again, if the Cubs want to see how he does against advanced competition, the franchise could use one of their eight spots in the Arizona Fall League to see him in action against elite players.
Aside from issuing less walks, I don’t think there is much left for him to prove in Myrtle Beach. He has utterly dominated two levels in one year.
His future looks pretty close after this year.