By STEVE KRAH
Sometimes a little quiet time and deep thought is just what a ballplayer needs.
“When you get beat down, you just step back and take a breath and visualize the goals you set for yourself,” says Darryl James Wilson Jr., 20.
A fourth-round selection by the Cubs in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft out of Canton (Ohio) South High School, Wilson has witnessed much self-improvement.
“It’s been in every aspect — hitting, fielding as a person,” says Wilson. “You definitely learn a lot about yourself your first few years in pro ball. The Cubs are big on the type of person you are. (Mental skills training) helps you on the field and off the field.
“Meditating 3-5 minutes a day really helps you relax and enjoy the moment while you’re here and not worry about the outcome.”
Wilson, a left-handed swinging and throwing center fielder, has played with South Bend throughout the 2017 season with the exception of a short rehabilitation assignment with the Arizona Cubs in early July.
Through games played Aug. 28, Wilson had played 86 games in ’17 with a accumulative batting average of .247 with 12 home runs, 17 doubles, eight triples, 50 runs batted in, 60 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.
Wilson, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 177 pounds, was decorated as a young player in Ohio, earning All-American and all-state honors and helping Canton South to four district titles.
The Division II Wildcats lost to eventual state champion Poland Seminary in the regionals in 2015, bowed to state semifinalist Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in regional play in 2014, went down to state runner-up Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the state semifinals in 2013 and were dropped by Canfield in the regional action in 2012.
Wilson credits Canton South head coach Trent McIvain for teaching him how to play the game and breaking down the mechanics of his swing.
After an official visit to Vanderbilt University, Wilson signed with the Commodores. When he was drafted, he decided to pass on college baseball and follow Canton South diamond standouts from the 2000’s — Dirk Hayhurst, Ronnie Bourquin and Devon Torrence — in getting paid to play.
“I wanted to started my pro ball career as soon as possible and get professional training,” says Wilson. “I wanted to be able to develop on a decent timeline.”
While he was a first baseman and pitcher in his early years, Wilson has been patrolling center field for the last several seasons.
“I can play it more instinctively,” says Wilson. “You want to go get the ball. I expect every pitch to come to me.”
D.J. Wilson, an outfielder drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2015, is a member of the 2017 South Bend Cubs. (South Bend Cubs Photo)