When the season is over and people start producing Top Prospect rankings, Ike Davis will likely be in the middle of a top 100 list. That is not surprising for someone of his pedigree, a first-round pick in 2008, but it is nothing short of remarkable considering the start that Davis got off to in his professional debut.
On April 28th, of this season, Davis hit the first home run of his pro career. Up until that point he had been considered a bust. The Mets’ top draft pick last year, part of their reward for the Braves signing free agent Tom Glavine, they selected Davis for his power. Unfortunately, he went all 58 games he played last year and then 17 more in 2009 without putting a ball over the fence.
The lack of power was disturbing but the Mets remained bullish on Davis, no one more so than former Vice President of Player Development Tony Bernazard, who told Baseball America, “He’s coming along well for a player in his first full year. He’s a great defender and we believe he’ll hit for power. You can see it in how he’s hit a lot of doubles. And the best part is, he’s kept up while playing in every game.”
Starting on April 29th, Davis has hit 15 HR in 79 games. He started the year at St. Lucie in the Hi-A Florida State League and was promoted to Double-A (where you really want to see a collegiate first-round pick in his first full season in the minors) after he posted a .288/.376/.486 line in 59 games.
Facing more advanced pitching has not slowed Davis down any. After 40 games in the Double-A Eastern League, Davis has a .299/.379/.519 mark, with 8 HR in 154 at-bats. However, here we must remember park and league tendencies.
The Florida State League is a pitcher-friendly loop. Currently Chris Parmelee leads the league with 14 HR and Dominic Brown’s .517 is the top slugging mark. In the Eastern League Brennan Boesch has 24 HR and Brian Dopirak leads with a .576 slugging percentage. Furthermore, Binghamton is a good hitter’s park. From 2006-2008, Dan Szymborski had Binghamton with a 1.05 HR multiplier. Szymborski says, “when I use the term ‘multiplier’ I’m already taking into account road games, so the number does not have to sent hurdling halfway to 1.00 in order to apply to various minor league stats.”
Davis is playing better at his home park, but not to an alarming degree. Here are his home/road splits:
H – .308/.386/.538 with 4 HR in 78 ABs
R – .289/.372/.500 with 4 HR in 76 ABs
The lefty-swinging Davis does have a significant left/right split. This year at Binghamton it breaks down as follows:
LHP – .241/.317/.296 in 54 ABs
RHP – .330/.412/.640 in 100 ABs
Additionally, all eight of his HR have come versus RHP.
Davis also has both a high K% and an elevated BABIP. His 30.1 K percentage ranks 14th among all Eastern League players with at least 100 ABs and his .383 BABIP ranks eighth.
But after he put up a .652 OPS in rookie ball, these are welcome concerns. Coming into the year, Davis could not crack Baseball America’s Top 10 prospect list for the Mets (interestingly compiled by Adam Rubin), finishing behind Eddie Kunz, whose upside is seventh-inning set-up man. It was a scathing indictment of Davis’ pro debut.
But in a season where everything has gone wrong on the major league level, the Mets can at least take solace in the development of Davis. The 22-year old now has to be considered as a potential replacement for Carlos Delgado at first base, giving hope that the club can avoid the free agent route when they opt to replace their aging slugger.
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