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Repetition Helping D.J. Davis FInd Success

Outfielder benefiting from repeating a year in Lansing

Repetition Helping D.J. Davis FInd Success

July 19, 2015

D.J. Davis

D.J. Davis is finding success by repeating a year with the Lansing Lugnuts. (MiLB.com)

Repeating a level in the minor leagues was never what Toronto Blue Jays’ outfield prospect D.J. Davis wanted to do. However, there can be some definite advantages to performing at the same level for a second season that can pay dividends down the road.

The Toronto Blue Jays assigned Davis back to the low-A Lansing Lugnuts for the 2015 season in hopes that he can improve on both sides of the ball after a subpar 2014 in the Midwest League.

Fortunately, 2015 has been completely different.

So far this season, Davis is improving in the right areas in his second go-round in Lansing. A major issue with the former first round pick in 2014 was how much he struck out in the batter’s box, striking out 167 times in 494 at-bats. But this season he has only struck out 77 times in 333 at-bats, working an impressive 10 percent drop in his strikeout/at-bat ratio.

A major component to this success is the fact that Davis has refined his approach at the plate. In previous seasons, his approach was basically stepping into the batter’s box and swinging. The Blue Jays and Davis have found an approach that fits what the young prospect is trying to achieve with his career.

“I’ve developed more of an approach at the plate,” explained Davis. “I’m seeing all of the pitches way better than I did in my previous seasons of pro ball.”

Another major improvement is his base stealing. Known for his athleticism, Davis had trouble finding consistency on the bases last season as well, only successfully stealing 19 bases in 39 attempts in 2014. It was obvious that the young prospect was going to have to find a way to use his plus speed more to his advantage to continue to climb the ladder.

Getting better reads on when to go and when to stay back this season, Davis has successfully stolen 13 bases in 21 attempts. While there’s still some room for improvement moving forward it’s a great sign seeing the young prospect developing his speed more.

All of this hard work is showing in Davis as he has improved his slash line to .282/.336/.390 this season compared to just .213/.268/.313 a year ago. These improvements are largely in part to Davis learning how to handle hitting off-speed pitches better.

“I’m getting way better at hitting off-speed pitches,” stated Davis. “You just have to see them and make sure to not chase balls out of the zone. That’s something I have worked on this past off-season and I’m continuing to work on it daily.”

Impressed with the way Davis has handled himself in his second season in the Midwest League Lansing Lugnuts’ hitting coach Kenny Graham has nothing but appreciation for the way Davis competes every at-bat and helps his team win ball games.

“D.J. has been great,” said Graham. “Since the first few series of the year D.J. has continued to have great at-bats for us. D.J. has drawn some walks in key situations and got some big hits that have really helped the team out. D.J. has got some RBIs late in games that helped us go up in the game, or get the score closer for us. D.J. has very competitive at-bats every time as he’s still working on being consistent. For the most part he’s done that this season. It’s good to see him getting better.”

While Davis has improved leaps-and-bounds offensively you cannot overlook what he’s doing defensively either. With the emergence of Dalton Pompey and Anthony Alford, Davis is not viewed as high on the Blue Jays centerfield depth chart so the organization is having him take reps at the corner outfield spots as well.

Playing his best defense in left-field, Davis has yet to commit an error at that position in 31 fielding opportunities. Having also made a strong outfield assist in left, there’s a chance that Davis could continue to develop there at higher levels of play.

Committing just nine errors between the three outfield positions this season, Davis is carrying a .945 fielding percentage, while picking up three outfield assists. The young prospect has also taken part in a double play this season as he put his strong arm on display nabbing a runner trying to tag up on a fly ball.

“My defense has got a lot better,” said Davis. “The biggest difference is I’m playing all three outfield positions now and it’s great seeing the outfield from every angle.”

Some fans might have jumped ship on this prospect prematurely as Davis was viewed as a five year project player when he was drafted back in 2012. Now in his fourth season of professional baseball, fans are starting to see the kind of potential the organization saw in Davis on draft day; if he can continue to develop the way he has this season, there’s still a good chance that Davis could make it to the Rogers Centre one day.

Until then, we just wait to see Davis improve every day.