HT: 5-11 WT: 160 POS: SS
Frederick Keys/Bowie Baysox (128 G, 472 AB, .271/.338/.375)
Drafted in the 4th round of the 2006 amateur draft, Blake Davis was given an immediate advanced posting to low-A Delmarva. Although his offensive numbers were roughly league-average, the Orioles were impressed that he was able to handle a full-season league right out of Cal State-Fullerton. Davis again impressed the Orioles with a torrid start to begin 2007, but he slowed down as the year progressed and struggled in 115 at bats in double-A Bowie.
Davis' manager at Frederick, Tommy Thompson, told ITW "he can bunt, hit and run, he uses the whole field, he hits left-handed pitching just as good as right-handed pitching… He's never going to be a power hitter, but he can be a doubles, gap to gap type and hit some out on some occasions. He can steal you a base. He's got a lot to offer. He's got a lot of athletic ability."
That appears to be the consensus on Davis, who a lot of scouts can see contributing at the major league level. However, most talent evaluators will also tell you that he has to improve his consistency if he is going to be a regular. The 23 year old, who is generously listed at 5-11, had two months with a .900+ OPS, but two months with an OPS below .700. He also had a middling 50 at bat campaign in the Arizona Fall League.
Although Davis played solely at shortstop this season, Thompson told ITW "He can play second base, he could be a utility guy, he takes balls in the outfield sometimes and he's a natural out there."
If his bat doesn't continue to improve, the utility option is always there, but the Orioles are happy with Davis' play at shortstop. He doesn't have a real standout defensive tool, but he does everything well enough. His range, hands, and instincts are all good enough to stick in the middle infield. Although he had 19 errors in 93 games at Frederick, the field conditions at Harry Grove Stadium may have played a role.
Davis will begin 2008 hitting at the top of the order for the Baysox. With Miguel Tejada gone and no obvious internal candidate to replace him in Baltimore, a strong start would likely get Davis some big league at bats. He could be ready to assume a full-time role at some point in 2009, though his versatility and athleticism mean that he's likely to be a major leaguer in some capacity, even if he can't hold down a full-time role.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com