Player: J.D. Davis
Drafted by:Houston Astros
DOB: 4/27/1993 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 pounds
School: Cal State Fullerton
Previously Drafted: 2011, Fifth round by Rays
Unlike a lot of college juniors this year who were drafted in the later rounds three years ago, knowing there was no chance they would sign due to limited bonuses and/or high price tags, J.D. Davis bet big on himself after being a fifth-round pick of Tampa Bay in 2011.
If you recall, that was the draft where the Rays had 10 of the first 60 picks. Davis was one who got away, though he's going to reap the rewards of his decision this year. The Cal State Fullerton product is a hitter first but comes with a fallback option as a reliever if the bat doesn't develop as expected.
In a draft that is lacking in power hitters, especially at the corner infield spots, Davis is a rare breed and could be taken higher than early prognostications suggest because of it.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
One of the most impressive college bats in this class, Davis generates tremendous bat speed with excellent hand strength; does a good job of waiting back on the ball and then transferring his weight to the front leg to drive the ball with authority; swing isn't flawless, as there is a noticeable collapse in his back leg and heavy uppercut that will lead to high strikeout totals.
Boasts plus-plus raw power that will play close to that level in games; uppercut to his swing helps generate backspin and line drives, so a team will have to live with the strikeouts as a trade-off for the power; likely to be a low-average, high-power hitter due to the nature of his swing.
Plate Discipline: 40/50
There's nothing wrong with Davis' plate discipline; confident hitter with a great understanding of the strike zone; eye is sharp and selective when it needs to be, but the contact issues will prevent him from being a hitter who works deep counts consistently and gets on base at a high clip.
Running has never, and will never, be a part of his game; big, lumbering first baseman, despite having some athleticism; station-to-station runner who may luck into a stolen base or two every now and then.
Davis is getting drafted on the basis of his bat, so don't expect much from him with the glove; lack of athleticism doesn't give him much lateral quickness; displays poor reaction times; can make all the routine plays and just has to catch the ball as a first baseman.
The one plus tool Davis offers on defense is one he won't use much at first base; spent time as Cal State Fullerton's closer, touching the mid-90s with his fastball, so the arm strength and accuracy are there when needed.
Since Davis has spent time on the mound, we should mention his ability; right-hander has a strong pitcher's frame, though he's largely arm strength and throws across his body; command is limited, but the control is good enough to pitch in late-inning situations.
As you would expect for someone with plus arm strength, Davis' fastball grades out as a plus pitch; sits in the mid-90s and touches 97-98 mph at times; some movement to the pitch thanks to the crossfire mechanics, and he does a good job of keeping it down in the zone.
Davis also utilizes a power slider in the 81-84 mph range; good tilt when he stays on top of it. He's confident enough in the breaking ball to throw it in any situation and uses it as his put-away pitch; solid offering with late bite but can get loopy at times.
MLB Player Comparison: Adam LaRoche
Adam LaRoche has carved out a solid niche as a 20-plus homer player who draws his share of walks and strikes out a lot. Davis has that kind of upside, though he has to improve his plate discipline and approach in order to walk as often as Washington's first baseman. Davis' ability with the bat and sharp work ethic make it easy to project him getting to that level.
Projection: Average regular at first base on first-division roster
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 90 percent
Davis has nothing to gain by returning to school. He's not going to become an elite athlete overnight, and his power isn't going to get exponentially better, so the time to strike is now. He's improved his stock immensely since being taken with the 180th pick three years ago, so why risk a potential slide in the hopes of earning a few more dollars?