By Matt Ellentuck
Coming in at No. 6 on Baseball America's top 10 list of Orioles prospects is pitcher Zach Davies. Here are five things fans should know about him:
1. He Was A Late Round Pick With A Huge Signing Bonus
Davies was selected in the 26th round of the 2011 amateur draft. But despite falling late in the draft, the Orioles paid him the third highest signing bonus of all their players selected that year. Davies was given $575,000, only less than Orioles first-round pick Dylan Bundy and second-round pick Jason Esposito. The opportunities the Orioles gave Davies allowed him to forgo a commitment to Arizona State to start his journey through the minor leagues. It is clear the Orioles see something in the 6-foot righty from Chandler, Ariz.
2. His Size Scares Scouts
Davies is listed at 6-foot, 150 pounds, and some scouts call those numbers generous. It certainly isn't the size most teams look for in a pitcher. His size may have been overlooked had he thrown with his left hand, but as a common right-handed pitcher lacking noteworthy intangibles, there is added pressure on his precision.
3. His Best Pitch Is His Changeup
His fastball maxes out in the upper 80s to lower 90s range. His slider needs work, and his curveball is improving, but his changeup is his best pitch. In an interview with Orioles Nation, Davies said he was advised by coaches to develop his changeup when he was a junior in high school. A report from Baseball Prospectus said he tends to double up on this key pitch more often than not, but he has great control over it, which makes it lethal.
4. He Put Up Good Numbers With Double-A Bowie
His changeup was part of the reason his numbers improved as he made the leap from Single-A Frederick to Double-A in 2014. In 20 starts, which included 110 total innings pitched, Davies maintained a 3.35 ERA (3.30 FIP). He finished 10-7 with the Bowie Baysox, and placed second in the league in strikeouts per nine innings with 8.92. He was also named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week in April and August, and had a streak of 19 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
5. He Pitched In The Arizona Fall League
The AFL is an opportunity for many of the league's top prospects to showcase themselves among the best competition and in front of many major league scouts. A few major league stars who previously played in the AFL include Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, Dustin Pedroia, David Wright and Albert Pujols. This year, 20 of MLB.com's top 100 prospects were placed on rosters for the season that began Oct. 7 and ended Nov. 15.
Being selected to the roster is an honor of its own, but Davies also pitched well in some of his biggest starts to date. In seven AFL games, Davies pitched a career-best 1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings for the Glendale Desert Dogs, leading to a 3-0 record.
What the Future Holds:
Baseball Prospectus scouts feel Davies could work his way into the bottom of the rotation in years to come. Despite lacking size and being selected late in the 26th round, Davies has his mind set that his time will come. "... This is what I have, so this is what I've got to use," Davies told The Capital Gazette in April 2008. "I know I get overshadowed. It doesn't bother me. If they give me the opportunity, I'm gonna show I'm worth it." [Full article]