Jonah Davis quickly made his name known on the prospect side with a tremendous start to his career. He was the 15th round draft pick this year out of California, playing at the same school as this year’s fourth round pick Aaron Shortridge. In six games in June, Davis put up a 1.628 OPS and had ten extra-base hits. He couldn’t keep up that ridiculous pace in July, but he put up the second best OPS among all Pittsburgh Pirates during the month. That led to him being named as the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for July.
The 21-year-old Davis played 23 games in July, hitting .340/.396/.543, with four doubles, three triples and three homers. It wasn’t the best month for offense around the farm system. His .939 OPS wouldn’t have got him close to the top three players we chose from last month, but in July it was just .004 behind Patrick Dorrian of the GCL Pirates. He didn’t have quite enough plate appearances to challenge Davis for the monthly top spot.
Davis has been batting lead-off for Bristol. While we have seen plenty of power from him already, his biggest asset just might be his speed, so the top spot in the order isn’t a bad place for him now. Davis didn’t steal a lot of bases in college, but the reports from Bristol say he’s an above average runner. He’s not going to be a huge power hitter, so the speed will be a necessary part of his game. At 5’10”, 180 pounds, he’s not the biggest guy, but he did hit 14 homers in college this season. That combination of power and speed makes him a great top of the order hitter now, though we will see how his hitting carries over to the upper levels.
Davis has been in center field for every game he has played as a pro so far. He has one error and one assist in 45 total chances over 29 games. You can’t tell much by those numbers really, but the reports I have received say that he covers a lot of ground and he doesn’t make any mistakes out there. His arm is described as average at best. Just going by what I’ve heard, it sounds like he can stick at the position. That above average speed also helps him on the bases, where he can take extra bases on balls in the gap and he should be able to pick up his share of steals.
Davis came from a major college, so his stats in the Appalachian League should be taken with a grain of salt. He’s at this level so he can play regularly in his first year of pro ball. If he went to Morgantown, he likely wouldn’t be having the same success, but he also wouldn’t be playing as much in their crowded outfield. What these stats do show is his skills. He’s in center field for a reason. He’s showing off power, he’s showing off speed.
The concern comes in with his 9:35 BB/SO ratio in 135 plate appearances, which is a carryover from what he did in college this year with 75 strikeouts in 242 plate appearances. He’s hitting great despite those numbers, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward. For now, all he can do is continue to put up numbers at the level he is at and not worry whether it’s the best level for a major college player.
PLAYERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Pablo Reyes, Util (.318/.344/.541, 93 PA, 4 HR)
Altoona – Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (.296/.431/.444, 104 PA, 1 HR)
Bradenton – Hunter Owen, 3B (.241/.298/.529, 94 PA, 7 HR)
West Virginia – Rodolfo Castro, 2B (.271/.329/.471, 78 PA, 2 HR)
Morgantown – Travis Swaggerty, CF (.253/.337/.471, 99 PA, 4 HR)
Bristol – Jonah Davis, CF (.340/.396/.543, 106 PA, 3 HR)
GCL – Patrick Dorrian, INF (.292/.435/.508, 85 PA, 1 HR)
DSL – Emilson Rosado, 3B (.368/.448/.456, 67 PA, 0 HR)
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.