Is The 2014 Arizona Fall League Zach Davies’ Finishing School?
Listed at a mere six feet and 150 pounds, Zach Davies was able to stand out during a recent visit to watch the Bowie Baysox take on the Trenton Thunder. At 20 pounds more than his listed weight, Davies lacks big velocity. However, he delivered a standout performance by relying on location and his secondary pitches do Dominate the Trenton Thunder.
Signed out of High School in the 26th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the 21-year old has steadily advanced through the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system. After spending all of 2012 with the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds and all of 2013 with High-A Frederick, the right-hander made 21 appearances and 20 starts for the Double-A Bowie Baysox in 2014.
From a statistical perspective, the 2011 draftee sets himself apart by improving each season against more difficult competition. Zach Davies’ ERA’s from 2012 to 2014 are as follows: 3.86, 3.69 and 3.35, respectively. More importantly, Davies strikeouts are up, posting 18.8%, 21.3% and 23.4% K rates over the same period. Because of his profile as an undersized right-hander without big time stuff, Davies needs to continue to prove doubters wrong by posting strong numbers at every level, forcing the Orioles’ hand.
Davies’ fastball has slightly below average velocity at 88-91 mph. While he controls the pitch and can throw strikes with regularity, command is still a work in progress. Davies best commands the fastball up and down, changing eye levels as needed while consistently keeping the ball low. He was less successful working the inner and outer half. In one memorable moment, Davies was behind in the count 1-0 to the Yankees’ Greg Bird and attempted to come inside with a fastball. He did not spot the ball in enough, resulting in a home run over the center field fence.
Despite posting a six-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio against right-handed batters, compared to a ratio just over two against left-handed batters, Zach Davies presented as more comfortable facing lefties.
Against right-handed batters, Davies relies on the fastball. While this allows him to stay in the strike zone, velocity and command of the pitch results in harder contact, but fewer walks.
Against left-handed batters, the Orioles prospect unleashes his full arsenal including the fastball, curveball and change-up. Davies also appeared to have a slider, although it was rarely used.
While a home run to the left handed Bird was the outcome of his attempting to come inside, Davies worked away from left-handed batters and did an excellent job of mixing his pitches. Both the 80-mph change-up and low-70’s curveball flashed as strong secondary offerings.
Davies’ most impressive inning of work against the Thunder was his sixth and final frame. The inning started with a light single to center field by Ben Gamel and a booming double to the right field corner by Greg Bird. Davies then sandwiched three strikeouts around a walk to escape the inning unscathed.
The first victim was Tyler Austin. An 80-mph change-up resulted in a swing and a miss followed by a 73-mph curveball for a called strike. Davies then wasted an 89-mph fastball away before. inducing a swing-and-miss on an 80-mph change-up.
Next up, Dante Bichette Jr. Davies’ 91-mph fastball misses well inside for a ball. Next, a 73-mph curveball results in a foul tap at the plate. Another 73-mph curveball results in a swing-and-miss, followed by another whiff on an 80-mph change-up for the punch out.
After walking Mason Williams to load the bases, Davies ended his night striking Tyson Blaser out on a 91-mph fastball perfectly placed on the outside corner. The sixth inning was Davies at his best sbecause he trusted the full arsenal against right-handed batters.
The Baltimore Orioles’ success in 2014 is fueled by a strong starting rotation. And while they lack an ace, the core of their rotation is under team control for at least two more years. Add mega prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey (ROTOscouting Report) and Davies faces an uphill battle to crack the Baltimore rotation. The 2014 Arizona Fall League will serve as a great first step towards proving he’s ready to contribute at the MLB level in 2015.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Back-Of-The-Rotation Starter Fastball 40 40 Curveball 45 55 Changeup 40 50 Control 45 55 Command 40 50
Owning Zach Davies
While reading this piece, a former Orioles pitcher kept popping into my head as a good comparison for Davies. From 2007-2011, Jeremy Guthrie was Baltimore’s most consistent starter, logging 200 innings three times while Orioles fans begged for an upgrade from outside the organization. However, Guthrie was able to sit at 93-mph with the fastball, meaning Davies needs to add more strength and durability to the profile. With pitchability being valued more than ever before, it’s impossible to write a 21-year old who has had MILB success at every level off, but six years of scouting has resulted in many a pitching prospect with the ability to throw three pitches for strikes. Eventually, the lack of velocity catches up with the player which is why Triple-A is littered with upper-80’s arms who are unable to take the final step to MLB. In the deepest of dynasty leagues, I’d be comfortable stashing Zach Davies as a back end sleeper, but expecting much more is foolish until he proves otherwise. – Mike Newman
11 Sep 2014 / Fabian McNally /
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