After six-plus years in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Granite City High graduate Jake DePew has caught on with a new team.
DePew, a 24-year-old catcher, signed with the Boston Red Sox and received an invitation to major league spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., as a non-roster player.
“I’m really excited. It’s kind of like a new start,” DePew said. “I’m excited to be with a new organization and to see what I bring. I was with (the Rays) for six years. A lot of my good buddies are still with them. I got to know all my coaches pretty well. It’s tough to leave, but I’m definitely excited.
“I’ll see where I end up. Hopefully, it’s Triple-A (Pawtucket), but I won’t know for sure until the end of spring training.”
It’s kind of like a new start I’m excited to be with a new organization and to see what I bring. I was with (the Tampa Bay Rays) for six years. A lot of my good buddies are still with them. I got to know all my coaches pretty well. It’s tough to leave, but I’m definitely excited.
Catcher Jake DePew, who has signed with the Boston Red Sox
DePew will report to Fort Myers on Feb. 12. It will be his second major league spring training camp. His first was with the Rays last spring in Charlotte, Fla.
“It was a really good experience being around the best players in the world every day,” said DePew, who was in camp with Highland graduate Jake Odorizzi, a pitcher with the Rays. “It was pretty fun. It’s very helpful. You take advantage of it as much as you can and just kind of pick their brain and see what they see in the game, those type of things.”
DePew graduated from Granite City in 2010 and was selected by Tampa Bay in the ninth round of the draft. He played the last three seasons with the Montgomery Biscuits of the Class AA Southern League, where he excelled on defense.
In 158 games with the Biscuits, DePew has thrown out 42.2 percent of the baserunners attempting to steal (54-for-128). He ranked second in Southern League caught-stealing percentage in 2016 (36.5).
“Defense has always been my strong suit,” DePew said.
Offensively, in 2016 DePew set career-highs in games (86), runs (26), hits (61), doubles (10), home runs (nine), RBIs (42) and walks (26) in 73 games, 70 of them starts.
“I’m still trying to improve every day offensively,” said DePew, who batted .215, three points below his career mark. “I did have a better year last year. I hit for more power, hit more home runs, which is good. I’m still trying to hit for a higher average. The more consistent at-bats I get, I feel like the better off I’ll be. It’s hard work and (it’s about) improving every day.
“Obviously, (Boston) liked me enough to sign me, which is good. We’ll see what happens.”
DePew said he has become a more confident offensive player and expects to make continued improvement. In his final game Sept. 5 against Tennessee, DePew was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Four of his homers came in 19 games between Aug. 4 and Sept. 5.
DePew’s nine home runs came in 284 at-bats. He had seven homers in his previous 875 at-bats.
“I’m excited to get back and get it going,” DePew said. “I was very excited about how I finished last year. My last month of the season was my last month. I’m confident going into this season.”
DePew is hitting this winter under the tutelage of Rick Strickland of Sandlot Elite Baseball in St. Louis.
“He’s very knowledgeable about the swing,” DePew said. “I’m hitting with him three, four times a week. I’ve done a lot of work with him and I’ve made a lot of improvements. I feel like my defense is good enough. If I can start hitting, that’s just a bonus. I think the time’s going to come. I’ve just got to be patient and keep working hard.
“If I keep improving and show what I can do defensively, hopefully the offense will come along with it.”