Glynn Davis Runs At Forefront Of Young Orioles Hopefuls
By Keith Mills
On a warm spring night in Sarasota, Fla., before a packed house at Ed Smith Stadium, nearly three dozen Orioles farmhands were honored for winning the organization's first championship in four years.
The Frederick Keys won the Carolina League title in 2007, the last Orioles farm team to win a championship. They won it again last September, beating the Kinston Indians in the best-of-five series, 3-2.
Among the more than 30 players that received their championship rings March 18, before the Orioles played the Yankees, were series MVP Manny Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, two of the team's premier prospects, and four players with strong Baltimore ties.
They were Glynn Davis of Northeast High in Pasadena; Michael Flacco, the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco; Steven Bumbry of Dulaney; and L.J. Hoes of St. John's in Washington, D.C., who along with Bumbry played for Youse's Maryland Orioles collegiate amateur team before the Orioles picked him during the third round of the 2008 major league draft.
Flacco, now in his fourth year in the Orioles organization, began last year in Delmarva before joining the Keys midseason. He may start this year at Bowie. Hoes started the year in Frederick and was promoted to Bowie in late May, while Bumbry led the Keys in doubles (26), runs scored (67) and walks (67) and ranked second in home runs (11).
Davis spent much of the year with the Aberdeen IronBirds before joining the Keys for the championship series. It was the culmination of a whirlwind year for the 20-year-old outfielder. Orioles crosschecker Dean Albany signed him in August 2010 after a sensational AAABA tournament in Johnstown, Pa., for the Youse's Maryland Orioles team run by Albany and managed by Tim Norris.
"When I got to Frederick it was different," Davis said. "The pitching was different. They had more of an idea what to throw and when to throw it. I was nervous actually going out there. I didn't want to jump in and ruin anything for them. I just tried to relax and control what I could control."
During the championship game, he singled and scored a run as the Keys beat the Kinston Indians, 11-3. Now, Davis is considered one of the Orioles' premier prospects. Selected as the organization's fastest base runner by Baseball America two months ago, he will likely start the year in Salisbury with the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds. However, when spring training began in mid-February, he was with the Orioles as a non-roster invitee, sharing a clubhouse with Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.
"Even though I didn't play much, just being up there and getting the experience was something that a lot of guys my age don't get, especially their first- and second-year guys," said Davis, who hit .435 last year for the Gulf Coast League Orioles before being promoted to Aberdeen in late June. "I was proud and happy just to get an invite."
Davis played in the Orioles' first exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates March 5 before the team sent him down to its minor league complex at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota. Manager Buck Showalter has recalled Davis three other times to play with the Orioles. He batted four times and played center field.
He has also spent a lot of time watching and observing.
"When I'm there with the Orioles, I focus a lot on Adam," Davis said. "We both play center field, so I was trying to take what he does and apply it to what I do. His preparation, how he gets ready and how he prepares himself to play each game."
Davis always seemed destined for big things on the baseball field. When he was 13 and a rising eighth-grader at George Fox Middle School, Albany invited him to the Oriolelanders Fall Showcase tryouts at Camden Yards. Three years before that, he joined the Maryland Orioles U10 team that Gary Fratantuono coached.
The core of that team stayed together for the next eight years, winning a national championship in 2005 and finishing second in 2009. The team included some of the area's premier high school players like Fratantuono's son Dominic of Cardinal Gibbons, now a sophomore at Towson University; left-handed pitcher Steve Schillinberg of Gibbons, now a sophomore at Catonsville Community College; Jake Thiess, also a sophomore at Catonsville Community College, and Mike Schmidt, a junior third baseman now at UMBC, of North County; Sean Doyle and Brandon Franke of Archbishop Curley; Christian Wolfe of John Carroll, now a junior at North Carolina-Greensboro; and Kodi Beckwith of Perry Hall.
Davis pitched, played shortstop and often batted leadoff. He could hit with power and was a terror on the basepaths. He started as a freshman for the Northeast varsity, but did not play his senior year because coach Adam Bolling dismissed him from the team before the season.
The incident served as a wake-up call for the talented 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior who graduated from Northeast in June 2009 and enrolled at Catonsville Community College. Davis had a huge year for coach Dan Blue's Cardinals, earning JUCO All-American honors and catching the eye of scouts all over major league baseball.
That summer he continued to play for Fratantuono's U18 Maryland Orioles team, though the Youse's Collegiate team picked him up in August for the annual All-American Amateur Baseball tournament in Johnstown, Pa.
Davis was a major force as the Orioles won their 27th AAABA championship, hitting home runs and stealing bases. He raised Youse's latest tournament trophy along with Calvert Hall's Pat Blair, Blake Geiger and Mike Trionfo; Cardinal Gibbons' Andrew Parker; and C. Milton Wright's Brad Markey and Bobby Ruse.
Albany and the Orioles signed him two days after the Johnstown tournament, but he didn't begin his professional career until last spring, assigned to the Gulf Coast Rookie League team in Sarasota.
"It's a dream come true," Davis said. "Not being drafted and being able to show guys what I can do. I'm proud of what I've done and I want to just try to move up in the system and try and make it to the big leagues."
Davis has opened a lot of eyes during a short period of time. He runs like the wind and has made a smooth transition from shortstop to center field. Last week in Sarasota, he singled, doubled and stole a base during three at-bats as Delmarva played the Beloit Snappers, a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. He has quickly climbed to the head of the Orioles' prospect class.
"There's a lot of stuff out there on the Internet these days," Davis said. "Some of it's good, but you have a lot of guys who doubt you. You can only control what you can control. You don't want to be blown away by the guy in front of you or the guy behind you. Just control what you can do and play the game like you know how to play it."
Mastering the mental part of a game is a major challenge for any young player, and it is no different for Davis, who arrived in Aberdeen in mid-June and eventually led the IronBirds in runs (34), doubles (14) and stolen bases (23).
He's one of many minor league players looking to move up in a system that hasn't produced many major league quality players recently. Davis said he felt that was changing under manager Buck Showalter.
"Even last year in instructs, they were feeding us a new system," Davis said, "saying that this has to change, and it's got to start with us. Right now, we've got a lot of good guys in the system and hopefully we can all get up there and help the Orioles win again."
Davis was born Dec.7, 1991, just four months before Camden Yards opened. He was 5 the last time the Orioles had a winning team and made the playoffs, though he grew up a die-hard fan who would love nothing better than to wear the orange and black and help turn his hometown team into winners again.
"I know it's kind of cheesy," Davis said, "but you want to play for your hometown team. I was a fan growing up my whole life. From Cal Ripken to Mike Bordick, Brady Anderson, all the great guys they had. I'm glad that I can now play for the team and one day maybe make a name for myself in the big leagues."
Posted March 26, 2012