The Royals invited first baseman Chris DeVito and about a dozen other prospects on a culture trip to the Dominican Republic in January.
It included visiting the grave of Yordano Ventura, going to an orphanage, playing paint ball and attending a Dominican League game.
“It makes me really humble to know how blessed I am,” DeVito said, “and it makes you grateful for everything you have.”
DeVito, a 23-year-old lefthanded batter, said he would “absolutely” like to play winter ball in the Dominican should the opportunity arise.
“It was crazy at the game,” he said. “It’s pretty intense. The fans get rowdy.”
A 2016 eighth-round pick out of New Mexico, DeVito earned a quick promotion to high Class A Wilmington in 2017 after slugging 11 home runs in 30 games at low Class A Lexington. He hit .301/.348/.484 in his first 40 games with the Blue Rocks, but then he hit a wall. He hit just .201 in his final 56 games.
“It was more mental than physical,” DeVito said. “I had never played that many games before. It was more my mind. I got in a pretty bad slump.”
He said he is better prepared to handle the mental grind this season.
Despite his second half-struggles, DeVito finished with 21 home runs, 31 doubles and 91 RBIs. He even hit for the cycle on June 2.
DeVito, who earned the moniker “Red Hercules” in college because of his auburn hair and weight room strength, has plus raw power.
“I didn’t hit that many home runs in college,” said DeVito, who reached 16 as a junior. “In college, I developed my swing.”
DeVito walked on at New Mexico, where he played catcher, and was never put on scholarship before the Royals drafted him.
“They told me before the draft I would be a first baseman,” DeVito said. “I said, ‘Thank you.’
“First base is new to me. I think I still have a high ceiling there. I just have to get more reps.”
DeVito will probably return to Wilmington to begin the season, with a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas likely.