Rotoprofessor’s Prospect Report: Wade Davis
Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor
There have been rumblings that the Rays may transition David Price to the bullpen, meaning that a spot may soon open up in the rotation. For a team with tremendous young pitching depth, they likely shouldn’t miss a beat as Wade Davis, currently pitching in Triple-A, could seamlessly step in and fill the void.
Davis has been impressive, posting the following line this season:
129 Strikeouts (7.97 K/9)
39 Walks (3.65 BB/9)
What’s not to like from those numbers? Everything is right in line with his minor league career numbers:
- K/9 – 8.8
- BB/9 - 3.4
- WHIP – 1.27
- ERA – 3.28
Considering that he’s been able to duplicate those numbers against the highest level of minor league competition, there’s little reason to doubt that he could continue to be a solid pitcher in the major leagues. In fact, in most organizations he’d already be a consistent force in a rotation, but this is Tampa Bay.
Prior to the season, the 23-year old right-hander was ranked as the Rays third best prospect (behind Price and Tim Beckham) by Baseball America. In fact, he’s been a fixture among the team’s Top 10 for the past four years, since being selected in the third round in 2004.
Baseball America described his arsenal prior to the season by saying:
“Davis is one of the premier power pitching prospects in the game. His four-seam fastball sits in the low to mid-90s, and he can dial it up to 95-96 mph when needed. He throws his hard 11-to-5 curveball with plus control, and it’s filthy when he produces two-plane break. Davis also has a straight changeup and showed an improved cut fastball in Triple-A.”
His strength lays in his ability to get righties out, hitting just .213 against him with 4 HR this season. He’s struggled against lefties this season (.254, 8 HR), a trend that has been there for his entire career (.273, 22 HR while righties have hit just .208 with 19 HR).
Considering he has faced 1,547 right-handed batters and 1,194 left-handed hitters, the fact that he’s allowed more home runs and nearly as many doubles (46 vs. 51) against lefties is quite disturbing. He needs to figure out a way to get left-handers out if he wants to be successful moving forward.
Pitching in the AL East, he’s going to have to face batters like Mark Teixeira, David Ortiz & Victor Martinez, so that could become a problem, as if facing the Yankees and Red Sox was not bad enough.
For his career he’s benefited from a 45.8% groundball rate, though that number has plummeted to 36.9% in 2009. It is something worth monitoring, because while it hasn’t hurt his HR/9 dramatically this season (0.71), at the major league level it could prove troublesome.
Overall he has the stuff to be a successful major league pitcher and clearly is worth monitoring in all formats. Is he a pitcher that should be used every start? Absolutely not, as he faces the potential to be blown up from time to time, if he even ends up in the rotation (though, he shouldn’t run into an innings cap having thrown 160.2 innings in ‘08).
He’s clearly worth stashing in keeper leagues immediately (if he’s available), while yearly league owners should consider him as a potential pitch-and-ditch option down the stretch. He’ll have the potential to be brilliant, especially when facing a predominantly right-handed hitting, weaker line-up. Outside of that, the potential is there for some gaudy numbers.
What do you think of Davis? How good could he be? Will he struggle this season?