Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Erik Davis

A lifelong fan of the Oakland Athletics, right-handed pitcher Erik Davis is also a fan of Rangers manager and former A's bench coach Ron Washington. Lone Star Dugout talks with the Rangers' 21st round pick about a career-threatening injury, his career at Stanford, and his repertoire, among other things.

The Texas Rangers drafted right-handed pitcher Erik Davis in the 21st round of the MLB draft on Friday afternoon.

A product of Stanford University, Davis suffered a career-threatening injury last summer when he was hit in the head with a line drive while playing in the Cape Cod League. The 20-year-old rebounded to post a 4-2 record with a 5.29 ERA while working out of both the bullpen and starting rotation for the Cardinal this season. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 6-foot-3 pitcher shortly after he was drafted on Friday.

Jason Cole: Can you talk about what it means to you to be drafted by the Rangers?

Erik Davis: It's a tremendous honor. A few guys from Stanford have been drafted there the past few years. I think it was John Mayberry, Jr., John Hudgins, and Tim Cunningham. Those guys were great players and it's a very nice honor to be in the same sentence as those guys, so I'm tremendously honored.

Cole: How much do you know about the Rangers organization?

Davis: I know a good deal because I grew up around here and I've been a big A's fan my whole life. I've watched the Rangers play and I actually saw them earlier this year. I really respect their manager because he was the A's bench coach last year. I like everything about them and I have a couple of friends in the organization who are all very high on the Rangers and their philosophies. All I can really ask for is that I get a fair shot. I just want to get my chance and hopefully do the best with it.

Cole: How much did you talk to the Rangers before they picked you today?

Davis: I didn't really talk to them for awhile. I was put in the starting rotation for the last six weeks of the year. I started pitching really well right before that. I did really well in my starting role as well. I think the Rangers guys showed up and I did well, so they started coming back and I kept pitching well. I had a good idea that they were pretty serious about me, but with the draft you're never really sure. There are always a couple of teams or more that are talking about how they want to draft you. For me it's just sitting back and waiting to see what happens.

Cole: Have you talked with the Rangers since you were drafted?

Davis: I talked to the area scout. He just called me to congratulate me and he told me once he gets back to his house in Sacramento they're going to call me back. Then we'll start talking dollar amounts and all that stuff.

Cole: What has been the best moment in your baseball career so far?

Davis: So far I'd say the best moment of my baseball career has been coming back from the injury I had this past summer and then being able to pitch this year. I got drafted and hopefully I can keep adding to that story. It was a career-threatening injury and I'm really proud of myself for how far I've come so far. I can only add on to the great story that I keep living. I'm just along for the ride and I'm happy that everything has worked out so far.

Cole: You mentioned the injury. How were you able to come back so quickly?

Davis: I think it's just the kind of person I am. I'm not going to let anything stand between me and playing baseball. It was more of a thing where I was really anxious to get back out on the field. Sitting on my butt for six or eight weeks was just not fun at all. I wanted to get back out there and as soon as the doctors cleared me, I was back out there and I haven't looked back ever since.

Cole: There's been talk of an injury like yours making pitchers a little tentative on the mound. Did it affect you in that way at all?

Davis: It didn't affect me at all. I think I might have slipped a little bit draft-wise because teams were worried about that. That's why I'm really grateful that the Rangers are giving me the opportunity. They're showing that they believe in me and that they recognize how far I come. It really means a lot to me that they took me and I'm just tremendously honored. I cannot say enough.

Cole: Did you get drafted about where you were expecting to go?

Davis: I got picked a little bit later than I thought I was going to go, but you honestly never know when you're going to go. I didn't really come in with any expectations. To be honest with you I had two finals today and I was working on papers all day yesterday because we're in finals right now, so it's kind of a good thing to be so busy. With getting school over, I've been able to keep my mind off the draft a little bit.

Cole: Were you happy with the way you performed this year at Stanford?

Davis: Overall, yeah, I was very happy with the way I performed. My stats were a little bit misleading because up until my last start I had about a 3.80 ERA. I was one of the leading pitchers statistically in almost every category in the Pac 10. In my last start, I did really poorly, so that kind of ruined my ERA. But all my other stats are pretty good. I'm pretty happy. Obviously I'm not very happy with how our team did, we ended up finishing at .500 and Stanford is traditionally a very strong program. That was kind of disappointing. But personally I walked away fairly proud with how I did this year.

Cole: You mentioned moving into the starting rotation towards the end of the year. Which role do you prefer and which do you think you'll be doing at the next level?

Davis: I really don't know. Last year, my sophomore year, I was a closer at the end of the year. I did really well there. This year I started off in relief and then moved into the starting rotation. I did well there too. It really doesn't matter to me as long as I'm getting consistent innings and I'm able to show what I can do, I can't complain.

Cole: Can you talk about what pitches you throw and the speeds you usually work at?

Davis: I throw pretty much all two-seam fastballs. They usually sit between 88-91 MPH. They can get up around 92-93. I also throw a curveball around 76-78 MPH. I think my best pitch is my changeup, which is what I get most of my strikeouts on. That's around 80-82 MPH.

Cole: Which pitch would you say needs the most work right now?

Davis: Definitely my curveball. I just started throwing a curveball about a year ago. Up until then, I was really just a two-pitch pitcher.

Cole: Aside from that, how else have you improved as a pitcher while at Stanford?

Davis: I need to get more consistent outing-to-outing. I was doing very well at the end of the year and then I had a bad outing down at USC. The sign of a really good pitcher and someone that will move up quickly is someone that can keep those away. That's pretty much my biggest problem right now. I can do really well for awhile and then all of a sudden I'll have one bad outing and then I'll do well again. I have to keep those bad outings to a minimum. I've gotten better but I still need to keep improving at that.

Cole: You were a junior at Stanford this year. Can you talk about the chances of you signing versus going back for your senior year?

Davis: I told the Rangers that I just wanted to be treated fairly and they agreed. Obviously it's a business. If it's a better decision for me to go back, then I'm not going to have any reservations doing that. But I'm definitely ready to start my pro career if it's the right move for me. I really can't go wrong either way because Stanford is such a great academic school. I can come back and finish my degree in one year or I can sign with the Rangers and finish my degree as well. Pretty much the most important thing for me is finishing my degree. My coaches at Stanford know that and the people in the Rangers organization that I've talked to know that as well. Other than that, I really just want to play baseball. Whether it's for Stanford or the Rangers, I'll be happy either way.

Cole: Have you talked to, or do you plan on talking to, any of the Stanford guys that have been in the Rangers organization?

Davis: Pretty much the one guy that I kind of know well is John Mayberry, Jr. because I played with him my freshman year. I actually saw him two or three weeks ago because we were playing Pacific in Stockton. He was up there playing against the Ports and he stopped by. I had no idea I was going to get drafted by the Rangers, but I talked to him and caught up with him a little bit. He's a great guy. I'm sure if it comes down to decision time, I'm definitely going to give him a call and talk to him. As far as I've heard, he's had nothing but good things to say and he's been treated really well.


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