Player: Braxton Davidson
Drafted by: Atlanta Braves
DOB: 6/18/1996 (Age: 17)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 lbs
School: T.C. Roberson HS (NC)
College Commitment: North Carolina
Even though other prep bats in the 2014 class have higher ceilings, Braxton Davidson has the best combination of performance, refinement and upside to suggest he could be the top hitter in a group that includes Jacob Gatewood and Alex Jackson.
If that's not enough to convince you about Davidson, there were also rumors that he hit a home run that traveled at least 500 feet during the Tournament of Stars event last June, per Clint Longenecker of Baseball America. That's one way to get your name on the radar, but it takes a lot more than just a single blast to stay there.
The good news is Davidson continued to display the swing that put him on the map this spring, including at high-profile events like the National High School Invitational event in North Carolina at the end of March.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Davidson's best tool is his ability to hit and control the strike zone; advanced feel for hitting, pitch recognition and bat control that makes it easy to see a high average in his future; good bat speed in the swing, but the hand-eye coordination is top notch; not much to his swing, which starts with a wide base and hands positioned around his shoulder; short setup and load before driving through the ball.
While the 500-foot home runs aren't going to be an everyday occurrence, Davidson's power will play just fine as he develops; short swing, combined with a thick frame and advanced approach, make it easy for him to spray line drives all over the field; over-the-fence pop will come in time, though the swing is geared more for a lot of doubles and 18-20 homers; doesn't get much extension at the end of his swing, nor is there a lot of hip rotation through the ball.
Plate Discipline: 40/55
Davidson has a very good approach and eye at the plate for a high school hitter; has been more vulnerable to quality off-speed stuff this season, but the track record is strong enough that it shouldn't be a major problem moving forward; strong feel for the zone will allow him to get on base at a high clip in the future without posting high strikeout totals.
A below-average runner currently, Davidson is likely to lose a step as he gets older and adds more muscle; lack of speed hurts him in the field, as it likely limits him to first base; bat is the carrying tool, so teams aren't going to be concerned about how quickly he gets around the bases.
This defensive grade is based on the assumption that Davidson plays first base in pro ball; if he moves to the outfield, the future grade gets bumped down to 40-45 due to lack of range; doesn't have great footwork on the infield but enough to play a passable first base.
One reason teams might be tempted to try Davidson in the outfield is his above-average arm strength; not a good-enough reason to put him out there, which will become clear the first time he takes a poor route to a ball; shame to waste his arm strength at first base, but sometimes you don't have a choice.
MLB Player Comparison: Anthony Rizzo
Even though Anthony Rizzo hasn't lived up to his potential thus far, he was a top-100 prospect for years thanks to a short, quick swing that looked like it would produce high averages and 25 homers per season.
Davidson may not have that much power upside in him, but the swing is similar and with some minor tweaks to his hip rotation could get there in the future.
Projection: Above-average, offensive-minded first baseman on a first-division team
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 75%
Davidson doesn't seem like the kind of player who would benefit from the college experience. The changes that need to be made with his swing aren't significant, so pro coaches can help him right away, allowing his stock to soar. It's also hard to envision a first baseman moving up draft boards in three years, though if the power takes a step forward in three years, he could be a top-15-20 pick.