Arriving in Eugene he struggled mightily in his first year hitting .176/.252/.206 in 35 games, which is bad for anyone, especially a late round selection. Davis, 22, easily could have seen his career end right then and there but instead went home and got better.
“Marcus has been the biggest surprise of the year to us and has adjusted well to first base after being moved from the outfield,” said Randy Smith the Padres Director of Minor League Development.
“As you can see by the numbers, he’s doing everything offensively well and really worked on what we gave to him in the off-season. A very nice quiet kid and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Not only did Davis improve, but he arguably may have been the best player in the Northwest League this year and is leading the short-season Northwest League in slugging percentage and doubles while hitting .327/.413/.551.
What was your biggest adjustment to playing pro ball?
Marcus Davis: I think it was the speed of the game and I really put a lot of pressure on myself. I thought there were a lot of good players that I played with and against at Florida State but you come to the pros and everyone kind of has the same kind of talent level.
It was definitely an adjustment period so I had to get through it and get a feel for it.
When I spoke with Randy Smith about you he said that they always give players a list of parts of their game to improve upon and ninety percent of them don’t do it. You did. What were some of the things that you improved upon?
Marcus Davis: The biggest thing was becoming sound in my mechanics. That is the thing that that I was really concerned with. I had a chance to work with a guy in the Diamondbacks’ organization, who is also a really good friend of mine, Vince Harrison, who simplified some things.
I got to spring training with Homer Bush, our hitting coach here, and Damion Easley, our hitting coach in Extended Spring, and we kind of continued on that path of just putting me in a good position to hit. I just got the repetitions in and it took.
Can you give us an idea of some of the things that you did to simplify your approach?
Marcus Davis: It kind of sounds cliche but it is mainly about getting something to hit and being ready to hit it when it’s there; so a big part of it was mental. If you sit and watch a baseball game, more times than not a pitcher is going to make an occasional mistake and its up to you to take advantage of them.
You sound like Jake Bauers in Fort Wayne in that it he claimed the biggest adjustment that needs to be made is on the mental side, rather than on the physical.
Marcus Davis: There is just a lot of talent and you have to see what separates guys, more often than not, its on the mental side. You see hitters in the major leagues and they have correct mechanics and they are swinging at what they should be swinging at.
That is what makes them better.
Matt Dompe, the Emerald’s broadcaster, noticed that you take the ball to the opposite field very well. Does that mean you are changing the location of where you are looking for a pitch?
Marcus Davis: Vince Harrison told me that the fastball down and away is the pitcher’s comfort zone. When they are down in the count that is where they look to go or to get ahead.
So if you can get good at hitting that pitch and can take it away, then they have to do something else which might be something that you can really drive. If you prove that you can cover the whole plate then it becomes about them making pitches instead of trying to exploit the hole in your swing.
How much scouting or how much information do you know about the opposition? Or at this point and level in your career are you more concerned about yourself?
Marcus Davis: I have the benefit of having film of myself swinging, which helps a lot. If you can take care of yourself then you have a chance. You might run into a day when a guy is just dealing, but if you have your mechanics down then you have a chance.
I really try to focus on me being ready to hit. We really don’t have that much video of opposing pitchers.
You said that you came here and put too much pressure on yourself. How, after having a bad year and being a late round draft pick, where you able to relax this season?
Marcus Davis: It’s a combination of some things. The experience alleviated some of it because I knew what to expect and having better preparation also helped. But you still have to find ways to put pressure on yourself because if you get complacent, that is not going to help you.
The name of the game is to keep climbing.
But there is good pressure and bad pressure.
Marcus Davis: Very true. I have a completely different mindset this year. I’m just focusing on my mechanics and my approach is to give myself a chance.
How has the move from outfield to first base gone?
Marcus Davis: The more positions you can play the better. Right now they have me at first, but things could change too. I still think I can play the outfield very well if they need me out there as well.
As long as they are writing my name in the line-up everyday I’ll go in there at shortstop if I have too.