Name: Rookie Davis
Draft: 2011 14th round pick out of Dixon High School in Holly Ridge, NC
Size: 6-foot-3, 235-pounds
Fastball: 95 mph
Other Pitchers: Fastball, Curve, Change
BBDP Ranking: 17
The 2011 draft’s lot of starting pitchers looks better and better with each passing year. The Yankees were able to draft and sign Jordan Cote, Dan Camarena, Matt Tracy, Chaz Hebert, Joey Maher, and Rookie Davis. Imagine if they had managed to sign their 10th round draft pick that year (Jonathan Gray). Anyway, that’s besides the point. While no one from this class has stepped forward and become a star, all are making good progress and seem to be solid picks.
This year might be the year where one guy steps forward and garners top prospect attention. If I had to place a bet on which player that would be, my money would be on Rookie Davis.
Davis didn’t get to play much in 2012. In fact, he had a flu-like illness which sapped him of all of his energy just as the GCL season was about to start. Because of that he only pitched 17.0 innings in his debut season. He did manage 17 K and a 2.65 ERA during that small stretch, but the velocity was down from when he was drafted (low 90’s in 2011) and the secondary stuff took a bit of a hit.
Davis took the off season to work back to full strength and it showed in 2013. As the Penn League Report pointed out, his fastball sat anywhere between 92-95 this season and he was able to locate it on either side of the plate.
Davis was back to his old self and then some, and the statistics bear that out. The Yankees had enough confidence to boost Davis to Staten Island where he boasted a 2.36 ERA on the season. In total, between Staten Island and Low-A Charleston, he had a 1.90 ERA with 47 K in 52.0 innings. He walked just 13 on the season. For the record, his ERA in 10.0 Low-A innings was 0.00.
After that kind of season as a 20 year old, if you don’t know Rookie’s name it’s time you learned it.
As mentioned above, Davis will sit anywhere between 92-95 with the fastball and has the ability to locate it wherever he wants. He has good, simple mechanics and repeats his delivery well. He gets some solid movement on the fastball.
His second pitch is the change up. He throws it at 82-84 mph and has good fade on his better days. His change up is still a work in progress but he is able to throw it for strikes, which is half the battle at this age.
His third pitch is a curveball, which ranges 70-75. It’s a bit loopy now, but he has worked hard on sharpening it up and it has already seen improvement since 2012. He’ll look to gain some velocity and tighten the spin on that curveball in 2014.
After the uptick in velocity and improvement in stuff in 2013, Rookie’s ceiling has improved vastly to a possible front of the rotation starter. He has the velocity, now all he has to do is refine his secondary stuff and he’ll be sitting pretty as one of the top prospects in baseball.
His floor improved vastly along with his velocity. He now profiles at worst as a late inning reliever provided that he doesn’t get injured and ruin his arm. This is obviously no guarantee in the Yankees hard luck system.
Davis will start the 2014 season in Charleston. From there, as long as he performs well, he should be in High-A Ocala before the end of the season. With his stuff and control, there’s no reason he shouldn’t get that promotion at some point.
Davis has put himself on the prospect radar with his performance in 2013, and now his job in 2014 will be to launch himself into top prospect status. He has the talent, he just has to continue to show it in games. The earliest I could see Davis arriving in the MLB would be 2016.
Rookie is probably the best of the breakout candidates for 2014. If he is able to play to his ability it will go a long way towards elevating the Yankees farm system status.
Next up: Prospect Park: Aaron Judge