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Mariners 2020 draft preview: OF Chase Davis

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Why mess with what’s working?

He’s coming for the rest of this baseball’s family next.
Chase Davis on Instagram (@chasedavis916)

Nearly every player we’ve covered in our draft preview series should be selected by the end of day one, which cuts off the “1st Round” at pick 37 following Competitive Balance Round A. Though Seattle picks No. 6 overall on Wednesday, they’ll then have to wait until Thursday to use the rest of their picks, when they’ll welcome five new Mariners into the fold. The subject of today’s profile, prep OF Chase Davis, has a good shot of being there when Seattle takes their first pick of the day on Thursday at No. 43 overall.

The elevator pitch for Davis is this: He’s an 6’1, 211 lbs, 18 year old L/L outfielder with one of the strongest arms in the draft, explosive bat speed, good athleticism, excellent results against top high school competition in the summer, and a fervent affinity for the weight room. Davis has frequently drawn comparisons to still-technically-a-Mariner Carlos González thanks to a similar leg kick/bat wrap combo. Much of Davis’ video shows a young hitter in González’s mold, using elite bat speed to generate plus raw power with a swing geared for line drives.

Davis hails from Franklin High School, in Elk Grove, California, just off I-5 due south of Sacramento. The University of Arizona commit has good foot speed for a corner outfielder, and was clocked uncorking a 99-mph throw from the outfield, putting him in the prototypical RF build. Multiple scouting reports have mentioned suspect route running, but more of a refinement issue than lack of effort or ability. Regardless, what Davis does at the plate will define his career.

Davis was mentored by former MLB Manager of the Year and current MLB Network Analyst, Jerry Manuel, who coached Davis in eighth grade through his foundation and kept in touch. The former White Sox and Mets manager sees Davis as “a game-changer, and he could be the face of an organization that a team can build around,” from an interview with the Sacramento Bee. Davis is similarly effusive in praise for Manuel, and credits the ex-big leaguer with putting him in such a promising position for this week’s draft. Davis has plenty of family to credit for his athleticism and success thus far as well, with a father and three uncles who played college football, as well as a mom who captained the Cornell University volleyball team.

Seattle wasn’t initially able to nab the gym rat prep outfielder they prized in the 2018 draft, but they could get Davis on the first go around, charming as their previous contracting experience with the Mets was. While Seattle is flush with outfield talent at the upper levels of the minors, the lower levels have plenty of question marks. You can never have too much of a good thing when it comes to prospects, nor should Seattle discount the value of bringing in a type of player they can point to a track record of improving. Davis lacks a degree of the prestige Jarred Kelenic had, though his stock may have risen with a continuation to the strong spring he’d begun. That built off a dominant performance in the Perfect Game Showcase last fall against top high school competition nationwide.

As is so often the case with prep hitters, how Davis will handle extended exposure to heightened competition, and in particular more vicious off-speed, will be the next step in his progression. Up for critique has been Davis’ pre-swing hand load, which has had a hitch that wraps his bat further around his head before coming through in a swing. This sort of bat wrap tends to cause greater swing-and-miss issues, as it takes the bat longer to get to the zone. While the excess moving parts can lead to inconsistency in theory, Davis has the strength and bat speed to overcome it thus far. It seems as though, even with an abbreviated spring, he was working to refine this area of potential critique.

In that February video, Davis’ hands are lower, with less wrap in the front toss cage session, and the change is even more pronounced in the next two videos, with a modern, lowered, simplified load that retains his smooth, quick-twitch swing through the zone.

On the final swing of his high school career, Davis fittingly delivered an extra base hit, with his smoothed out load and a tempered leg kick.

Chase Davis on Instagram

The next time he picks up a bat in a game, he may be a professional. If things break right, his new employer could be just a dozen hours or so north on I-5.