When the season began, Dwanya Williams-Sutton's main goal was to stay healthy. He suffered through thumb and wrist injuries over the last two years and was trying to play a full campaign in 2019.
Staying healthy has turned out to be a challenge, in large part because opposing pitchers seem intent on bruising the powerful TinCap as often as they can.
Williams-Sutton, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound outfielder built like a linebacker, went into Monday night's 5-1 victory over Dayton having been hit by a pitch a whopping 19 times this season, the most in the Midwest League and just four shy of the Fort Wayne franchise record of 23.
The 22-year-old had hit-by-pitched his way into the Midwest League lead in on-base percentage, racking up a .406 OBP.
He insists he does not try to get hit by pitches, though he admits he doesn't make much of an effort to get out of the way.
“My teammates they think I lean into it, but it's where I stand,” Williams-Sutton said. “My coach in college always told me, 'Don't move your feet because that's going to mess up your mind for your at-bat swinging at stuff away.'
“I just don't move my feet and they can keep throwing in, so I'm just gonna keep getting hit, I guess.”
The 2018 fifth-round pick's penchant for getting plunked went to ridiculous levels in a recent game against the Cedar Rapids Kernels, when he got hit in four straight plate appearances. By the end of the game, his arm, which took the brunt of the blows, was numb, but he had reached base five times.
“It's frustrating and then it's not,” Williams-Sutton said of his painful night at the plate. “The Padres organization, we really focus on on-base percentage, so that's the good thing. The bad thing is not being able to swing the bat.”
Williams-Sutton hasn't just been getting hit by pitches, however. Coming into Monday's game at Parkview Field, which started late because of rain, he'd been in the midst of one his best stretches of the season with the bat, reaching base in 15 consecutive games.
In that run, Williams-Sutton had gotten on to base at a blistering .517 rate and walked in 1 out of every 6 plate appearances.
“He's just a really good hitter,” hitting coach Jonathan Mathews said. “He's strong. He can drive the ball to all fields. He hit a pull-side homer early in the year and then he hits balls into the right-center field gap regularly. When he's on time, he's a dangerous guy.”