Another Davis Gets A Chance With Dodgers

It is a baseball maxim that any prospect with what are considered exceptional skills has to be labeled the "next' as in "He's the next Willie Mays" or "He could be the next Steve Carleton." In the case of Ben Davis, he had the ability to be "the next Johnny Bench."

It is a baseball maxim that any prospect with what are considered exceptional skills has to be labeled the "next' as in "He's the next Willie Mays" or "He could be the next Steve Carleton." In the case of Ben Davis, he had the ability to be "the next Johnny Bench." That was in 1995 when Davis became the second player chosen in the draft- outfielder Darin Erstad from the University of Nebraska was the first. Coming out of Malvern Prep, a suburban Philadelphia school, the Padres felt he had the ability to become an outstanding player.

He was up in San Diego by 1998 and he caught a lot of games for them over the next few years- 138 in 2001- but he never did exhibit the skills to make him more than an average big league catcher. The Padres traded him to the Mariners; he eventually went on the White Sox - then out of the big leagues.

He played in the Yankee chain in 2006 but this year was able to get only a job in independent ball when the Dodgers decided he was the catcher they've been seeking to replace Kelly Stinnett at Las Vegas. So now, he's with the 51's as is righthander Chris Fussell, who had big league time in the past with the Orioles and Royals. He, too, was plucked from indy ball.

Davis, whose older brother Glenn was the Dodgers first-round draft choice in 1997 (one who never made it up at all), is hoping this could eventually lead to some big league time with L.A. Assistant general manager Kim Ng, who signed him, says she's made no promises to him about that.

In other player moves, the Dodgers also signed second-round draft choice Michael Watt, a lefthander from San Juan Capistrano High in California, Saturday. He's expected to be sent to the Gulf Coast League.

They've also signed Jeris Bert, the 19th round pick. Bert, who also will go to the Gulf Coast entry, thus becomes the only Frenchman in organized ball. An outfielder, he played for the French national team, before coming to this country to play for Frank Phillips College in Texas.

Also, oft-injured righthander Jose "Jumbo" Diaz, has begun another rehab assignment, this time with Great Lakes. Jumbo, who had made it is far as the Dodgers' 40-man roster in 2006, got into 18 games, pitching variously for Jacksonville, Vero Beach and the Gulf Coast Dodgers last year.

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