After six years in the minor leagues, Jake DePew is just happy that he’s doing something he loves to do — play baseball.
“Obviously, that’s been my goal since day one is to get to the big leagues,” the former Granite City High standout said. “It’s still my dream and it’s still what I want to do. I’ll play in the minor leagues for as long as it takes. We’ll see how much longer it will take, but I’m still enjoying it. I’m still having fun playing baseball.”
DePew is playing for the Tampa Bay Rays’ double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits. He joined the organization in 2014 after playing in small towns such as Port Charlotte, Fla., Wappingers Falls, N.Y., and Princeton, W.V.
The Biscuits, who have been in existence since 2004, play in the Southern League. They play teams from cities such as Jackson, Miss.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Jacksonville, Fla., among others.
“We get good crowds and people who enjoy coming to watch baseball,” DePew said. “So it makes it more fun.”
DePew shares catching duties with Mike Marjama. He’s hitting .203 with three home runs and 13 runs batted in.
“Obviously, offensively, I always try to get better,” DePew said. “During my whole career, I’ve been known as a defensive player. I just need to get better offensively. I try to hit for power and obviously, a higher average as well.”
The Biscuits, which won Southern League championships in 2006 and 2007, are in third place in the five-team Southern League North Division standings with a 34-36 record.
“We have a much better team than what we’re playing and what our record shows right now,” DePew said. “We’ll get some things going and get good things happening in the second half and hopefully, we’ll turn it around.”
DePew is one of 64 players from the Granite City area in the last 100 years who are playing or have played professional baseball. Cody Daily, who graduated with DePew at GCHS in 2010, is playing with the Chicago White Sox single-A affiliate in Kannapolis, N.C.
“That’s not something that happens very often,” DePew said. “This area doesn’t necessarily produce a ton of professional baseball players. But this is something I worked for from the day I started playing baseball. This is something I always wanted to do and I worked extremely hard to get to where I am. It’s a dream come true and I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
On June 8, 2010, just weeks after his high school graduation, DePew was selected as the 16 pick in the ninth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
“You hear things leading up to the draft,” DePew said. “People say you might get drafted here or there, but nothing’s for sure until they call your name. I sat down with the family and I was just waiting to hear my name called. It was a pretty special moment when it was (called).”
DePew was coming off an outstanding senior year at GCHS, hitting .490 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs and 51 runs scored and helping the Warriors win their first regional championship since 1994.
After being selected by the Rays, DePew decided to play professional baseball instead of playing college ball with the University of Louisville. He played his first of his six years of pro baseball in the Gulf Coast League in 2010.
“That was a pretty cool experience being an 18-year-old kid,” DePew said. “My life changed pretty drastically and quickly. I went from being a high school student to being a professional athlete in one day. Obviously, it’s the first time being away from home. That was different. But I got used to it pretty quickly. I was in a good organization. They took care of me. I grew up pretty fast, which was good. But I don’t regret my decision at all. My dream was to play baseball every day. I’ve been able to do that for the last six years. I enjoyed it.”
DePew played with the Princeton (W.V.) Rays in the Rookie League in 2011 and the Hudson Valley Renegades in the New York-Pennsylvania League in 2012.
In 2013, DePew moved up to single-A after joining the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs. The following year, he played 31 games in Port Charlotte before heading to Montgomery.
Now, DePew is hoping to move up to the Rays’ triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls.
“That would be awesome,” DePew said. “You’re one step from the big leagues at that point. That’s the ultimate goal. Being one step closer to the big leagues would be good.”
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