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Prospect of the Week: D.J. Davis

We look at another recent Jays' draftee in D.J. Davis.

None of these people are DJ Davis, but you can pretend.
None of these people are DJ Davis, but you can pretend.

D.J. Davis was drafted in 2012 with the #17th pick out of high school in Mississippi. He agreed to a signing bonus of $1.75 million with the Blue Jays. A 6'1" outfielder who weighs in at 180 lbs, Davis is a very raw 18 year old. Davis was drafted so highly thanks in large part to his blazing speed and high upside. A lefty hitter and thrower, Davis will succeed in the big leagues if he consistently gets on base and proceeds to breeze around the base paths (both of which he has been able to do quite successfully so far).

After being drafted, Davis played the majority of his 2012 games in rookie ball. He also made a cameo in Vancouver near the end of the year. His cumulative totals for 2012 were pretty solid. In 60 games he hit .250/.355/.386 and stole 25 bases while being thrown out 10 times.

With Davis being so young and having so few professional games under his belt, the information out there is definitely not extensive but here's some tidbits on the young outfielder.

Hitting- At the dish Davis is very raw and there are both positives and negatives that are clear from his first pro season. On the plus side, D.J. gets on base a lot. With a walk rate of right around 10% and an OBP in the mid .300's, Davis does not let his speed go to waste sitting on the bench. If he can continue along this path as he climbs up the Jays' farm system Davis would be a very attractive option at the top of the order.

On the flip side, Davis strikes out a lot. His K rate is a little shocking as striking out and getting on base don't exactly go hand in hand. With a 26% K rate across all levels in 2012, it's fairly obvious that Davis will need to focus on making more contact to utilize his speed to an even greater degree. For comparison's sake, in the Gulf Coast League (where Davis played 43 of his 60 games) he ranked eighth worst among all qualified batters. Somehow he was still able to come up with a OBP that ranked in the top 30 range of the same players. From an optimist point of view, if Davis is able to start putting more balls in play he could post an even higher OBP, which would be a huge asset to have at the top of the order.

Davis also has some "sneaky pop" as it was described when he was drafted. This power made a slight appearance in 2012 as Davis cleared the wall 5 times. I don't think fans can expect Davis to ever put up double digit home run numbers but could blast some out of the park here and there (similar to Rajai Davis perhaps).

Here's some video of Davis hitting from high school. I went all the way to Mississipi to shoot it myself (kidding I really didn't):

D.J. Davis, of Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss. (via BaseballAmericaVideo)

Here's some batting practice from his time in Vancouver during the playoffs:

D.J. Davis Batting Practice, Toronto Blue Jays (via MLBDirt)

Fielding- It appears that Davis lacks serious arm strength, but makes up for it by covering a ridiculous amount of ground in center field with his speed. When he was drafted the MLB Network team said he "lacked the arm strength to play in the corners" so it appears that Davis will stick in CF as he climbs his way through the Jays minor league system. The comparison to another Blue Jay centre fielder in Anthony Gose is definitely there, but Davis seems to have more hitting ability and even more speed.

Here's a video of Davis playing a little defence in high school:

Outlook- Blue Jays Plus thinks Davis will start in extended Spring Training and make his way to Vancouver where he ended last year. I don't see any reason to disagree with this prediction, and hopefully he picks up where he left off last year. There's a possibility of ending the season in Lansing but I wouldn't be surprised if the Jays take a conservative approach with the raw and toolsy Davis by keeping him in Vancouver all year.

For Davis to continue improving, decreasing his high strikeout rate should be step one. Making more contact is sure to help his game as getting on base with his speed is vital. Even if Davis' home run rate doesn't improve too much, it won't be a huge concern to the Jays as long as the gap power and triples remain above average. Lowering the amount of caught stealing will also likely be an area of focus for Davis. As he matures, he should get a better handle on the best times to steal. Guessing when Davis reaches the majors is a fruitless endeavour at this point, but it should between late 2015 and 2017.

Here's another clip from when Davis was drafted with some more video of him in high school: