A Spike in Ike’s Value

With yesterday’s cut of first baseman Mike Jacobs in New York, Mets followers are eagerly anticipating word that top hitting prospect Ike Davis is on his way to the Majors. It’s certainly not a huge leap to expect the former first round draft pick to be a better offensive contributor than bench warmer Fernando Tatis, the currently-injured Daniel Murphy, or Jacobs.

Davis has hit well this year in triple-A, albeit in a small sample size of 33 at-bats. (The quick trigger suggests that Mets management is feeling some heat to win… quickly). Davis has an overall line of .364/.500/.636 and is showing a good eye with nine walks to five strikeouts.

The former Arizona State two-way player had a slow start to his career, which included a well-publicized 215-at-bat debut without a homer. Well, questions about Davis’ power have all but been answered. The left-handed hitter slugged 20 homers last year and posted a .256 ISO rate in half a season at double-A.

He also showed patience last year by posting a walk rate of more than 11%, but the strikeouts could be an issue, especially early on in his MLB career. Davis had a 26% strikeout rate last season. It remains to be seen how well Davis will hit for average; it’s risen with each promotion but so has his BABIP, which was up to .381 in double-A. Given his lack of foot speed, Davis is unlikely to maintain that high rate as a result, which will ultimately be felt in the batting average. His struggles against southpaws could also be an issue (OPS of .672 vs southpaws in ’09, 1.000 vs right-handers) unless a platoon situation – which would make a lot of sense – is utilized, at least early on in his career.

Defensively, Davis should be an upgrade. As a former two-way player he has a strong arm, which is why he also spent time in the outfield in college (where his lack of speed hurt him).

It’s pretty clear that promoting Davis is pretty much a no-lose situation for the Mets at this point… aside from service time, which is irrelevant for a team serious about contending in 2010. He has the potential to be a Rookie of the Year candidate in the National League, which is great for PR… something the organization could use.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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