One of Scouting Director Joe Jordan's primary goals for the 2006 amateur draft was to add athletic positional players capable of playing up the middle. In fact, five of his first nine selections were shortstops at the time they were drafted. Among them was a 5-11 160 lbs. shortstop for perennial Division I powerhouse Cal State Fullerton named Blake Davis.
"It felt pretty good," Davis told Inside The Warehouse. "Any team you get picked up by, you feel pretty good about. I've always watched Baltimore as a kid and they have a great tradition, so it's pretty good to be here."
Davis was considered Baltimore's most advanced positional prospect in the 2006 draft and the Orioles deemed him worthy of a fourth round pick. After signing for $282,500, the now 23 year old shortstop was aggressively assigned to low-A Delmarva.
"The game was a little fast for me when I first got there. I guess it shows that they have confidence in me. It was definitely a great learning environment to be in. It wasn't that easy, but I adjusted to it."
Used primarily at the top of the order, Davis put up a .271/.329/.377 batting line. Considering that he was fresh out of college, adjusting to wooden bats for the first time, and in a pitching-friendly environment, his performance was more than respectable. Few people, however, would have guessed that Davis would be leading the offensive charge for the Frederick Keys in 2007. Through 13 games, he is sporting a .333/.407/.521 batting line from the leadoff slot.
"I'm just getting used to the game. Coming off of last season, I got a little taste of what it was going to be like, so I prepared myself and it just slowed everything down around me. It seems to be working right now."
Perhaps one of the reasons for his success is that Davis refuses to be intimidated by moving up from the South Atlantic League to the more advanced Carolina League.
"I haven't really seen a huge difference. It can be in your head that you're at a higher level, but, other than that, I haven't really seen any difference."
A year ago, Blake Davis was considered a good defender that was capable of hitting for average but little else. After adding a few pounds in the off-season and further improving his pitch recognition, he appears to be growing out of the future utility player tag that gets slapped on many players of his ilk. Even with players like Pedro Florimon, Luis Hernandez, and Brandon Fahey occupying premium positions in the organizational depth chart, Davis now has a chance to emerge as the best shortstop prospect in the Orioles' system.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com