The Arizona Diamondbacks’ top position prospect coming into this season, and fourth overall prospect, is 21 year old third baseman Matt Davidson. We all know that the Diamondbacks have one of the best systems in regards to young arms and they seem to overshadow some of the bats in the system, including Davidson.
Davidson, who played his entire 2011 season as a 20 year old in the Advanced-A California League where the average age was just under 23 years old, hit .279/.350/.467 with 39 doubles and 20 homeruns. But, since the Cal League is known for being hitter friendly, his wRC+ was only 107 and he struggled with making contact at times with 147 punch outs in 606 plate appearances. But, given his age approximate to the league, it was a successful season.
Davidson turned 21 in late March and started the 2012 season in Double-A where the current average age for hitters is just over 24. But, the difference in age has not stopped Davidson from having one of the best starts of any player in professional baseball this year.
Davidson is currently crushing Double-A pitching to the tune of a .420/.540/.680 triple-slash line while the rest of the much older league is hitting .241/.315/.350. Davidson also has 2 homeruns, 7 doubles, and 12 walks on the year. His walk rate is now at 19.0%.
The few knocks on Davidson as a hitter have been his poor contact rates and inability to handle right-handed pitching. Davidson is hitting .378/.465/.649 against right-handed pitching so far and has cut his strikeout rate almost in half at only 14.3%. Davidson has yet to strikeout in 19 plate appearances against left-handed pitching and has 6 walks against southpaws.
As history will tell us, Davidson will not be able to keep up with most of those rates, especially his .487 BABIP, but that does not mean that his early success is all luck. Davidson has not had a BABIP below .343 in any full season and his BABIP in his first season over 299 plate appearances was .326. When he makes contact it is usually hard.
Davidson’s approach is far beyond his years and the power and ability to hit left-handed pitching have always been a major part of his game. With some improved defense at the hot corner Davidson has the chance to become a star at the top level. While his early season success at such a young age in Double-A is unsustainable it is still a great sign of his abilities and that he has the ability to overcome the few weaknesses in his offensive game.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt