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Photo via John Arguello, Cubs Den

Cubs Prospect Profile: Dakota Mekkes Could Be a Fast-Track Reliever

My initial impression of Dakota Mekkes this year is What the hell is he still doing in South Bend!? Honestly, he should be in Tennessee. Low-A hitters stand no chance against him and I am pretty sure those in the advanced-A Carolina League would not either. Just cut to the chase and move him up already. This is not hyperbole. This is not me blowing things out of proportion. Mekkes is that dominating a pitcher.

Current Info

22 years old
6-7, 252 pounds
Throws Right
10th Round Pick 2016

Strengths

Throws in the low 90’s
Will continue to improve with pro coaching
Extremely deceptive delivery
Multi-inning RP

Areas of Concern

Radar guns are not his friends
The occasional walk

What Others Say

Fangraphs said of Mekkes this winter:

Mekkes was straight up filthy this past season. Pitching in the Big 10, Mekkes struck out a remarkable 96 batters in just 57 innings without surrendering a single home run. The catch is that he pitched exclusively in relief — though he wasn’t used like a typical reliever, and actually pitched more like a starter in some cases. Mekkes averaged over two innings per appearance in relief, and frequently threw many more than that. Most notably, he tossed six shutout innings in an extra-inning game against Maryland. Unlike most college relievers, he wasn’t a one-inning guy, which helps explain why KATOH likes him more than most relievers.

Eugene

Mekkes appeared in nine games for the Emeralds in 2016 after being drafted, during which he put up a 2.12 ERA and struck out 21 in 17 innings. He did not allow an earned run in the playoffs. I did not get a good look at his delivery from the camera angle in Eugene, which is in right-center. Like all college pitchers who play after being drafted, I take their initial performance with a grain of salt as they have been shut down for a month.

South Bend

Beginning with his first appearance this year, it was clear that Mekkes’s stuff is not to be judged by a radar gun. He’s not a closer type, but he gets some of the ugliest swings I have seen in years. The 6’7” righty comes set with a bent knee and places most of his weight on his back leg. With a better camera angle at South Bend and West Michigan, it is easy to see how Mekkes is able to deceive the hitter by keeping the ball behind his large body through the stretch and planting of his foot.

Most hitters have no chance, evidenced by the fact that Mekkes has not given up a hit yet this year. He has walked four in 9 inning, but he’s also struck out 12. He has a 0.44 WHIP so far and I only see it going down.

Going Forward

Mekkes is not going to blow you away with speed. A 91-93 fastball is not too shabby, but his deception makes it seem more like 97-99. Even watching him pitch this past Tuesday, I saw rushed swing after ugly swing after “where did that ball come from” swing. It was almost unfair how the ball gets up on the hitter. When he goes inside on either a lefty or a righty, it’s game over.

Yes, he does need to cut down on his walks. On the other hand, no one has come to close to figuring out how to make solid enough contact to drive those free baserunners in.

As the year goes on, I see Mekkes being promoted quickly. More than likely, it will be to Myrtle Beach first. I’d really like to see him at Tennessee; if he can survive there, he could be in Chicago very soon. I don’t think that is out of reach in late 2017, early 2018. Really, I don’t. He’s that good.

 

Feat. image from 2016 instructional league game as captured by Cubs Den’s John Arguello

About Todd Johnson

During the day, Todd teaches US and World History in a small town in northern Illinois. As a Cubs fan, his first baseball memories are of Ernie, Billy, and Fergie. Baseball cards, Strat-O-Matic, and fantasy baseball eventually followed. The summer of 2017 will find him spending most of his days watching the South Bend Cubs throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes. You can always find him on Twitter: @cubscentral08

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