Blake Davis: The Next Orioles Shortstop?

Blake Davis struggled at the plate in his double-A debut last season, but has shown clear improvements this season. While his average has risen each month, his defense has been solid all year, and some think he's ready to handle that position in Baltimore. Inside Davis dishes on his improved defense, improved offense, and the prospects of playing in Baltimore.

Blake Davis, the Orioles' fourth round draft pick in 2006, out of California State University, Fullerton, and current Baysox shortstop, could be the next in line to get a shot at short in Baltimore.

Davis is starting to emerge as a prospect who could break through this year and at 24 years old, could be a long-term solution if he keeps improving. Though Davis had an April to forget, from May 1 on he has hit for a very solid .282 average, and in 18 July games, he has hit .316 and has an OPS of .813. Davis' constant work has paid off.

"You're trying to just consistently work on your swing and trying to find out what works for you," Davis told ITW. "Honestly, you can do that and all you want in the cage and feel good, but if you don't feel good in the game… that's one of the biggest things. [I am] comfortable in the game and seeing good pitches and I feel like I've been doing that ever since the first month has been over."

Blake's manager, Brad Komminsk, who describes Davis as a line drive and gap hitter, has also seen Davis adjust and improve in his first full season in the Eastern League.

"This is really only his second full year," Komminsk sad. "There's a big difference from college to [single-A] ball to double-A ball. It's a huge jump and it takes a little while. He's coming out of college, and even though it's a big college program, it's still a big jump and I think he's handled it well.

"He's one of those hitters who has to do all the aspects of the game. Bunting guys over, hit-and-run, moving guys over, and stuff like that. He's putting together a lot better at bats now and doing the things he's got to do."

Even with a slow disappointing April, Blake Davis has out-hit the Baltimore shortstops. Davis' .258 average is better than the .225 combined average of Baltimore shortstops. In addition to that, while Davis' OBP has crept up to .303, no Baltimore shortstop has had an OBP over .300. Blake has also hit more doubles, triples, and home runs than the combined Baltimore shortstops, and has scored more runs and driven in more RBI's than his Baltimore counterparts. All of this while batting primarily out of the ninth spot in the lineup, where shortstops have hit with the Orioles.

While it is not fair to compare offensive stats from double-A to the majors, the comparisons would be a lot more interesting if Davis' April were excluded.

One thing, however, that does translate across levels is defense. Davis has shown good range and a very strong arm. He sets himself up on throws to first and has shown the ability to make strong throws on the back end of double-plays. Blake has been solid manning a difficult position while trying to improve every day.

"Early on I wouldn't say struggling, but mechanically my feet were moving fast a little bit and now I've been working on that, which has been strengthening my throws a little bit," Davis explained. "I mean, you just have to show up everyday ready to work. Sometimes you don't want to put in the effort to do it because you're tired, but it's based on showing up everyday and doing it. But I'm working on it everyday and grinding it out is basically what you do."

Davis defense has been just as good as the defense in the Baltimore. The Orioles have played 97 games so far this year, and their shortstops have committed 17 errors while Davis has committed 17 errors in 94 games.

The revolving door at shortstop has been an issue this year in Baltimore, but has that been something that crossed Davis' mind?

"Yeah definitely, but I try to put it in the back," Davis responded. "I think that's what I was trying to do that first month. You know, trying to do too much offensively seeing all these guys roll through playing short up there."

Davis has settled in at short in Bowie and is looks a lot more comfortable at the plate. Joe Jordan, the Orioles' Director of Scouting, said Davis still has to become more consistent at the plate to reach the majors, like many everyone else at the double-A level. However, Jordan did give Davis some of the highest praise a player can get:

"[Davis] could play shortstop in the big leagues tonight, he can play shortstop."

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