DJ Davis was selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Stone County High School in Wiggin, MS by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the 17th overall pick and the first of 2 in that round by the Jays. The other pick being an undersized, starting pitcher from Duke University, Marcus Stroman. Davis was actually selected ahead of several high-end MLB players and prospects like Corey Seager, Michael Wacha, Lewis Brinson, Stephen Piscotty, Joey Gallo, and Lance McCullers Jr just to name a few. That list may upset Blue Jays fans but it shows the talent Davis possesses.
Davis was, by all accounts, considered far and away the best athlete available. Showing sub 3.9 second speed he was a true burner, no doubt. He had great outfield instinct and an arm that despite having a below average grade, was assisted by a quick release and excellent base-to-base accuracy.
The issue with Davis was simple, he was as raw as you can possibly be. Now I am not here to spout out stats about his failures as a pro for the first 4.5 years of his minor league career. With the bat, he had ups and downs, with a lot of downs. But something happened this season mid-year in Dunedin, that came almost out of nowhere. DJ Davis was largely written off, and then something clicked.
Some people don’t believe that late season turnarounds are real, but this was different. Contact rates improved, pitch selection improved, hard contact rates improved, he was walking, hitting balls gap-to-gap, and even flashing extra base power. All of the tools that people were so excited about that had yet to show up appeared almost over night.
Even his baserunning instincts seemed to improve. Over night baseball and all of its nuance became 50% clearer. When Davis was ahead in the count his OBP% actually climbed to .504, behind in the count the struggles with contact were still there occasionally, but this was a great sign. Even his K rate sunk after mid season to 25.5% which still isn’t great but compare that to last season where that percentage sat at 36.1, and the signs of improvement become more apparent.
Some people may point to the fact that he was repeating at Dunedin, and the last time he repeated a level at Lansing, he had a very strong turnaround as well, in his second attempt. Some people may point to his first half struggles which were very troubling. But to me I saw DJ Davis become a much more instinctual athlete, and maybe some of that amazing talent so many saw in him has been realized.
So if you prefer to take a wait-and-see approach with him that is fine. But in my opinion, DJ Davis will continue to grow and improve next year as well. What I saw wasn’t a fluke, or baseball luck, it was genuine clarity.
He’s a great kid from all reports, and has phenomenal talent, I personally couldn’t be cheering for him more.