Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder Jonathan Davis has upped his game in 2018.
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted speedy outfielder Jonathan Davis in the 15th round of the 2013 MLB draft. Coming out of the University of Arkansas, Davis was 21 when he debuted with the Appalachian league’s Bluefield Blue Jays in 2013.
While Davis always showcased impressive speed and solid defense in the outfield, he struggled to hit at a consistent rate for his first couple of professional seasons, topping out with a .238/.346 with Bluefield. In 2015, his hit tool slowly began to develop, and the promotions slowly came. Due to his starting age as a professional and especially his size, Davis has never been considered a top prospect for the Blue Jays. Nevertheless, he’s had success at every level and has recently reached the second-highest rung of professional baseball, Triple-A.
A little backstory before we get into Davis’ future role with the Blue Jays…
Back in May, or maybe early June, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats were in Binghamton to play the storied Rumble Ponies. The game was eventually rained out, which was disappointing. While we waited, dining on ice cream helmets and the local delicacy of spiedies, nearly the entire stadium was waiting underneath the grandstands on the food and merch concourse, avoiding the downpour. As we huddled together against a concrete pillar on said concourse, a young gentleman – obviously a player – popped out with a curious look on his face.
Wearing just the uniform pants and a Blue Jays undershirt, he looked around, found what he was looking for, and disappeared into the dense crowd. Many onlookers saw the unknown base ball man, and none batted an eye – they were here for Tim Tebow and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Some might not have even recognized him as a player, as he stood nearly eye-to-eye with the person writing this article, a 5’5″ catcher who washed out at 20. The player, of course, was Jonathan Davis, all 190 soaking wet pounds of him.
Even in a crowd of baseball fans, he blended in. That’s been true for most of his professional development as well. Never quite standing out, but always demanding a glance from those in the stadium that day.
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In 2018, though, Davis has put it all together. He’s never going to hit for power, but his solid defense and speed combined has earned him a promotion to Triple-A along with every day playing time in a crowded outfield. The speed remains his defining asset, though…and once getting on (at a rate of about 37-38% this season) he’s stolen 22 bases in 25 attempts.
Davis has also improved his strikeout rates in 2018. In 2017, at Double-A New Hampshire, he posted a 20.1 K%, which has improved to 14.8% this season. Unfortunately, there’s also been a bit of a downtick in BB%, where he’s down to 9.8% form 12.6%.
The Blue Jays’ prospect picture, while strong at some positions, is underwhelming in the outfield. Dalton Pompey has sputtered out, and after a wrist injury in Spring Training, No. 3 prospect Anthony Alford has struggled with Triple-A Buffalo. Jonathan Davis, now 26, isn’t a prospect in any traditional sense, but his breakout here in 2018 could have an impact on the team after six years in the minors.
Sure, Davis is unlikely to be a star at the MLB level. But if he can get on-base at the rate of .361 as he has in the minor leagues, and swipe a few pivotal bases once the Blue Jays find their way back into contention, he can certainly be a viable fourth OF option, and at worst a taxi squad kind of guy between Toronto and Buffalo. There’s no one else in the organization pressuring him for the role at this moment, and potential trades involving Curtis Granderson can free up the needed roster space.
He’s making the most out of a breakout season and filling a true need for the organization.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of R Widrig- JFtC
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.