“I try to base my performance on being as consistent as possible," said Kannapolis outfielder Ian Dawkins in a phone interview with FutureSox. "Coming out of college, I knew I had the skill set to at least compete at the pro level. My goal every night is to come out and compete.”
With a wRC+ of 132 in 92 games this season, Dawkins has done far more than compete. Taken out of Sacramento State in the 27th round of the 2018 draft, he wasn’t expected to steal the spotlight on a team with several high-ceiling prospects. But things like a 20 game hit streak will get you noticed.
Dawkins is no stranger to long hitting streaks, as the White Sox farmhand managed stretches of 14 and 12 games during his junior year at Sacramento State in 2017.
“My main goal is getting on base," Dawkins said. "Hitting streaks and that stuff kinda just happen with singles, hitting the ball hard and finding a way to get on base.”
“Every night in pro ball, you are facing a decent arm," He continued. "In college, you could go into a game thinking, 'I’m gonna get three hits tonight because I’m facing 84-85.'"
The 5’11” 195-pound outfielder has delivered to the tune of 27 multi-hit games this season, including a five-hit game vs. Lexington on May 9.
“I’ve never had a five-hit game before -- even in t-ball or little league," Dawkins said of his May 9 performance. "That was a fun night for me."
Ian Dawkins just tallied his 11th game this season with 3 or more hits, he’s pretty good at baseball
— Kannapolis Intimidators (@Intimidators) July 19, 2019
Dawkins has been a catalyst for the Kannapolis offense with 54 hits and an OPS of .807 in 83 games at the top of the lineup.
"I’m most comfortable in the leadoff spot," said Dawkins. "I feel like most of my college career, I hit in the leadoff spot. I like being the first one there and being the table-setter and getting things started."
Dawkins' profiles are that of the quintessential leadoff hitter. He’s hit three home runs, but has been able to get himself in scoring position with 26 doubles on the season.
"I’ve hit some balls pretty well this year, but I wouldn’t say power’s my strong suit," Dawkins explained. "I’m more gap-to-gap. I’m not too concerned with the home runs if I’m hitting balls hard in the gaps.”
Ian Dawkins is a grinder and shows quick wrists. He sits so low in his stance though, not sure there'll ever be much game power. #WhiteSox
— John Calvagno (@SALNotes) July 16, 2019
With a .376 OBP and 15.4% K rate, the absence of power is of little concern. Dawkins makes up for it in a variety of ways.
“My main goal when getting on base is to try and wreak havoc," He said. "Make the defense a little bit nervous and try to get around and score. I consider myself a base stealer.”
Dawkins has 19 steals in 25 attempts on the season. Given his ability to get in scoring position, defenses need to keep a supply of Xanax on hand.
Dawkins is the team's primary center field having logged 621 innings in 71 starts. He also has the ability to play the corners adding 19 games in left field.
"I don’t have a preference position wise," Dawkins said. "Growing up, I played quite a bit of infield, but then I got converted to an outfielder going to Sac State. I feel comfortable at all three of the positions. Mainly, I’ll play left or center, but I feel comfortable at all of them.”
With infield experience already under his belt, Dawkins could carve a path to the majors as a versatile super-utility player (think Leury Garcia). Although, he does not have plans to return to the dirt just yet.
“I’m not sure if I will add infield to my list of positions," Dawkins noted. "I’ll let the outfield things work out now."
Speed, once again, is his primary asset.
“My biggest strength on defense is I feel I can cover a decent amount of ground," he said. "I get to a lot of balls, even the balls on the ground, cut them off using speed, and keep the runners from advancing.”
In his first year of full-season affiliated ball, Dawkins has shown no signs of wearing down. The typical college season is about 60-70 games, and he played about that number between Great Falls and Kannapolis last year. So, with 92 games in the rearview mirror, Dawkins in prepared for the long haul.
"Last year I came up to Kannapolis at the end of the season and I feel like I threw some at-bats away," Dawkins explained. "My goal this season was to find a way to compete every at-bat. Stay focused throughout the whole 140 game season rather than the shorter college season. Keeping my body healthy throughout and finding a way to compete each night."
In addition to staying sharp mentally, Dawkins has modified his workout regiment.
“I’ve shortened my lifts," he said. "The White Sox have an awesome program that keeps us healthy. I worked out more in college, but playing 140 games every single day, you need to cut back a little bit on that.
“I stretch more and kinda maintain my body, ride the bike, and make sure I’m loose. I honestly feel it turns into a mindset thing. If I say I feel tired, I feel tired, but if I say I can get through this, my body feels fine.”
At 24-years-old and having such a successful season, Dawkins is taking everything in stride.
“Hopefully, I have a shot at getting to Winston this year," he shared. "I try not to focus on the promotions and stuff like that too much. Just focus on playing the game and doing what I can. My biggest thing is controlling the controllable. If I do, that’d be awesome, but if I don’t, that’s not the end of the world – just gotta go out and keep competing."
If he keeps competing the way he has, he will be a wearing a Dash uniform before long.
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