A quick glance at Dakota Mekkes and you would think you’re looking at a football player rather than a baseball pitcher. Think again. Mekkes has arguably been one of the Cubs most successful “homegrown” pitchers in recent years and appears to be at Wrigley’s doorstep.
The Cubs selected Mekkes in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Michigan State University, and has rapidly worked his way through the minors. He was promoted to Triple-A Iowa last June where he closed out the 2018 season with 25 appearances for the I-Cubs, posting a 1.44 ERA and 3 saves in 31.1 innngs pitched.
Standing at 6’7”, Mekkes uses his length in his release, a large part of what makes him so successful. "I'm not very conventional with my delivery as [the ball] comes out of a 3/4 slot, so for me using my length is a lot more beneficial as I try to release the ball as close to home as possible," Mekkes explained.
The righty went on a tear in 2017 when he pitched a dominant 55.1 scoreless innings between his time with South Bend and Myrtle Beach before the Frederick Keys finally scored three runs off him on August 1. Mekkes responded by putting zeroes on the board for the remainder of the season.
While Mekkes has done quite well throughout his minor league career, he still faces challenges, such as mastering his control. "I feel like the main times that I've gotten into trouble, a walk or two has been involved in that inning," he said. "For me, just attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count is something I really need to focus on.”
Looking back on his accomplishments during his professional career thus far, Mekkes credits his success to his father, who passed away last March during Spring Training. "He was the one who got me started playing baseball back when I was four-years-old," Mekkes explained of his father's influence. "He coached me through little league and made sure I always had the best training and gear possible to succeed at the game. He was always my biggest fan, coming to literally every game possible no matter where it was. Everything I do in baseball for the rest of my life is in honor of him because he gave me all the tools to get me where I am today.”