JONAH DAVIS, CENTER FIELDER
|Born: July 2, 1997
Height: 5′ 10″
Drafted: 15th Round, 444th Overall, 2018
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of California
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Davis switched from center field to left field during his junior year, and the Pirates announced him as a left fielder. They nevertheless played him in center exclusively during his debut season. He has a small frame, but gets a lot of power production. In 2018, he hit for a .321/.446/.606 line in 193 at-bats, with 14 homers and a .285 ISO. He also hit nine homers in the Northwoods League in 2016, which is a wood bat league. He struggled in the Cape Cod League, another wood bat league, in 2017. Baseball America ranked him 200th overall in the draft class, giving him a plus raw power grade. Davis does have significant strikeout issues, with a 30.99% strikeout rate in 2018. Some of that results from a dead pull approach. His value is fueled by the bat, but he has enough raw power to be able to provide value in a corner outfield spot. He signed quickly after the draft.
Davis was the regular center fielder for Bristol and had a huge debut season, hitting for serious power. He had a quarter of all of Bristol’s home runs. One warning sign, though, was the high strikeout rate. Davis didn’t hit LHPs nearly as well as RHPs, although he didn’t do badly against them (his OPS was .800) and the sample size was very small, just 40 plate appearances.
Davis missed the beginning of the season with a minor ankle injury. Once he got to Greensboro, he struggled severely. Through mid-May, he struck out in 43% of his plate appearances and batted .131. The Pirates sent him back to extended spring training, then to West Virginia when the short season leagues began play. After a brief time there, he moved back up to Greensboro, more because playing time was needed for other players at West Virginia than anything else. Once Davis got back to Greensboro, he suddenly started hitting, with a 286/358/533 line in July and 318/383/654 in August. The swing-and-miss problems, though, didn’t go away. In August, for instance, Davis struck out 44 times and walked only nine in 121 plate appearances, which meant that he made outs on only 30 balls in play. For the season, Davis had only a small platoon split. He started off playing center regularly, despite the presence of Lolo Sanchez, but later in the season he played often in right. He seems to have lost speed and it’s questionable whether he should be in center going forward.
Davis continued in three-true-outcomes mode, with solid power, good walk totals and strikeouts in half his ABs. He opened the season in Altoona and was sent down to Greensboro about two-thirds of the way through the season. The demotion probably had more to do with the Pirates’ acquisition of Jack Suwinski and promotion of Matt Fraizer than with Davis’ performance. Considering the jump he was making, he wasn’t overmatched at Altoona, he just hit more or less like he always has. At Greensboro his hitting was nearly identical to what it was at Altoona. For the season he had a sizeable platoon split, with a .636 OPS against LHPs and .784 against RHPs. At both stops he played center exclusively.
Davis is intriguing due to the power, but his K rates aren’t going to work in the majors. So far, he’s not addressing the issue. He’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
|2022: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2018
MiLB FA Eligible: 2024
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2021
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 6, 2018: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 15th round, 444th overall pick; signed on June 13.|