D'Shawn Knowles Takes Major Strides
D’Shawn Knowles was the lesser heralded of the two outfielders the Angels signed from the Bahamas in 2017—he received an $850,000 bonus, while Trent Deveaux received $1.2 million—but Knowles appears to have passed Deveaux on the depth chart with a strong debut season.
Knowles spent the summer of 2017 at the Angels' academy in the Dominican Republic. After a solid 30-game stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2018—he hit .301/.385/.381 with one home run and seven stolen bases—Knowles earned an Aug. 1 promotion to Rookie-level Orem.
One of the youngest players in the Pioneer League, the 17-year-old Knowles hit for a better average (.321) and more power than he had in the AZL, with four homers and 15 extra-base hits in 28 games.
"He took a major leap forward as an offensive player last year,” minor league field coordinator Chad Tracy said. "He learned how to square the ball up consistently. He held his own with a lot of college draftees in the Pioneer League.”
And to think, the switch-hitting Knowles was so raw and inexperienced in the Dominican Republic that there were times he had to be taught how to take a professional batting practice. There is no doubting his tools, though.
The 6-foot, 165-pound Knowles has plus speed, an explosive first step, a solid arm and plus defensive instincts in center field. He can play all three outfield positions. He has a clean, compact, quiet swing from both sides of the plate with gap-to-gap power.
Knowles is on the smaller side, but he is "as strong as an ox,” Tracy said. Knowles’ power should increase as he gets bigger and stronger. He could develop into a 15-20 homer hitter in the big leagues, but he projects more as a leadoff hitter and fourth outfielder. A fearless approach in the field and at the plate has also served Knowles well.
"In his first year, I’d go see him in the Dominican, leave, come back a month later and see how his body had physically matured,” Tracy said. "And his bat-to-ball skills in the last year took a huge step forward. His growth in one year is exciting. If he improves incrementally each year, how good does he become?”