Davis Moving Along

TRENTON, NJ - After spending the past two and a half years playing in the different levels of class-A baseball, pitcher Rookie Davis has finally gotten the promotion to play for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Davis was with high-A Tampa this season and had a 6-6 record and a 3.70 ERA this year. With his big arm and fastball, the 22-year-old struck out 105 batters in 97.1 innings pitched and has been improving since he pushed to single-A Tampa this year.

The newest arm in the Thunder rotation recalls how he got wind of the good news one day after his last start in Tampa on August 2ND which resulted in a win for him.

“We had an off day [after my last start] and I was eating lunch and I had a call from a Clearwater number that I didn’t know so I let it go through,” Davis said. “[The] same number called again and I let it through again. I then checked my voicemail and it turned out to be my manager and he said ‘Hey this is Skip, call me when you get the chance.’ So I called him back and he congratulated me because I was being promoted to Trenton.”

Thunder Pitching Coach Jose Rosado has worked Davis in the past and is impressed with the way he’s progressed since last working him. He noted that Davis has improved in all aspects of pitching and became a better pitcher overall since he got drafted by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2011 draft.

“He’s a competitive guy,” Rosado said. “I got him in the GCL three years ago and I’m happy to see him here and develop the way he has been. I expect him to come and enjoy the game. He’s going to throw strikes. He has a very good fastball command from both sides of the plate and his offspeed pitches have developed.”

Speaking of his pitching, Davis sports a big fastball being able to reach into the high 90s. His curveball has been a swing and miss pitch this season, according to Davis, that hovers around the 78-83 mph range, much higher speeds than when he was drafted. He says his changeup has been developing very nicely, something that he’s proud of and credits Tommy Phelps, his pitching coach when he was in Tampa, for helping him improve significantly on the pitch.

He notes that his pitches are good enough to be thrown at any count during an at-bat, which has been a big reason he has really high strikeout numbers this year.

While Davis did not pitch immediately after getting promoted, he took a real hard look at what his competition brings to the table and notices that the strikeouts are not going to come as easily as they did in Tampa. With strike zones being smaller, batters having more patience and plate discipline, Davis admits that he needs to adjust his pitching style just a bit.

“It was mental weakness,” Davis said. “I’m comfortable enough to say. But I used to always look for excuses last year and it is not who I am. It’s not how my parents raised me and it’s not the competitor inside of me, and I think that ultimately lead to being inconsistent.”

Davis, who allowed two earned runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings in his Double-A debut on Saturday, said that he has made significant progress on working on the mental aspect of baseball and that he is very proud at how far he’s come along, but also knows that he’s still not done yet. He no longer will beat himself up for a bad performance which was something that he said he did a lot in the past.

Even though he knows he has a high-velocity fastball to work with, one of the things that Davis has learned in his time as a pro is to not go full speed ahead on every pitch. Aside from the mental part of pitching, pacing himself and saving up his strength is one of many things that he’s working on improving.

Trenton Thunder manager Al Pedrique doesn’t want to put pressure on the young pitcher. At this point in the year, it’s important for him to get used to the level of competition in Double-A and make as smooth a transition to the next level as he can.

“We want him to go out there and have some fun,” Pedrique said. “Jose Rosado, the pitching coach, talked to him and basically said that we don’t want him to feel like he has to be a hero that needs to do too much, to just do what has been working in Tampa because it’s the same game. The only difference is that the hitters are better.”

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