Braxton Davidson's Leaf baseball card

Braves Draft Braxton Davidson’s Thunder

davidson card

Braxton Davidson’s Leaf baseball card

With the 32nd pick in on day one the Braves draft team selected North Carolina thunder in the form of Braxton Davidson (@B_Davidson06 on Twitter),  a 6’1” 210 pound first baseman/outfielder. With Freddie Freeman extended for the foreseeable future the Braves draft pick is destined for the outfield.

Braves draft to fill a power outage

Since the promotion of Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis the Braves farm system is devoid of a true major league projectable power bat. Davidson certainly fills that need. The Baseball America scouting report (subscription required) speaks glowingly of his hit tool saying Davidson :

  • has at least plus raw power and hit three home runs in four games at the Tournament of Stars.
  • has and above-average hit tool is likely better than his power in game action.
  • is strong and quick to the ball, has shown the ability to drive the ball with authority to the opposite field.
  • is an intelligent hitter with strong awareness of the strike zone

Minor League Ball’s Matt Garrioch rated his offense as his best feature.

At the plate is where Davidson shines. His raw power is not the best in this draft class but his usable power is. Of all the players . . that can put a charge into the ball, Davidson does it the most consistently and with the most ease. That’s saying something. There are probably 10 guys with plus power projection or better in this draft. His hit tool allows for this. It could easily be plus and we are talking about a guy I wouldn’t be scared to say will hit .300 in the majors.

He has great feel for the strike zone and a professional approach to hitting. He goes the other way with ease and turns on pitches and launches them adeptly. He is a safe prep bat, as rare as that is.  He is a smart player, knows the game and has all the skills to be an impact bat.

Perfect Game described his hit tool like this:

“. ., .spread balanced stance with deep hand load, outstanding bat speed and it comes easily, dominates the inside half of the plate, explodes his hands to the ball, upper deck power, will need to learn to handle the outside half of the plate . . . one of the best hitters in the 2014 class.

Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider provided this report to My MLB Draft.

Davidson may have the best left-handed swing in this draft; there’s little to no wasted movement and he has tremendous feel for hitting, hitting the ball with authority to all parts of the field. If there’s anyone with a 70 hit tool in this class, it’s Davidson.. . . plus power to the pull side and above average pop to opposite feel; supplemented by plus bat speed and he transfers his weight very well. While Davidson isn’t a bad athlete, he also isn’t very fast, and I wouldn’t expect very many stolen bases or first to thirds over his career

If you were to substitute a young Freeman’s name for Davidson’s those scouting report would remain accurate. In effect the Braves draft choice appears to be Freeman mark II and offensively that’s a very good thing. Patience and the ability to consistently take the ball the other way is something lacking in the current lineup. Review on his defense are more mixed with varying degrees of optimism.

Here’s another video of him at the plate.

Power in search of a position

As I noted, the Braves draft choice is projected to fill an outfield slot, left field is the obvious choice  because although he there’s an outside chance his arm allows him to play right; center is completely out of the question.  Those same scouting reports gave the following evaluations.

Baseball America

. . .His well below-average speed limits him to a corner profile, and first base is probably his best defensive position.

Minor League Ball

He will slow down as he fills out and he will likely move to 1B down the line but he could be an asset in right field early in his career as he possesses a strong arm.. . . His speed and defense will never be large assets but will never be hindrances either.

Perfect Game

. . . 7.09 runner, clean balanced actions in the outfield, good arm strength with proper footwork and accurate throws . . .

My MLB Draft:

. . .Some believe he could play an adequate corner outfield – and he does have above-average arm strength – but I think his future as at first, where he’s just about average.

In summation this guy can hit, should play first base but put him in left (right in a pinch) and bat him 3,4 or 5.

That’s A Wrap

My initial reaction to this choice was dismay. I was looking for a corner infield or center field/leadoff bat in the form on Jacob Gatewood or Monte Harrison, expected a pitcher – lefty preferably but top of the rotation righty would do – like Spenser Adams, Sean Reid-Foley  or Cody Reed because that’s what the Braves do unless overwhelmed by talent.  Yesterday I compared Davidson to Balboni; that wasn’t fair and I both apologize and withdraw that comparison.

Davidson has been and looks like continuing to be unless seduced by the homer vixen, a good hitter who has power. That kind of bat will always play, the question is where.  His speed and handedness seem to point to left field and even if we managed to extend Justin Upton or Jason Heyward we won’t be able to do both and Davidson could well step in.

Last night I said  the question was why they made this choice, after sleeping on it I rescind that question. I understand why; the lack of hitters –particularly hitters with pop in the farm system is why. In that light the choice of Davidson makes sense. I still want a bat for the future of third base and a center fielder/ leadoff hitter to step in when BJ has to move to a corner or leaves but perhaps we can find one in the next 38 rounds. After all Jermaine Dye was a 17th round pick, Brett Butler a 23rd round pick and Dusty Baker a 26th rounder so those folks are still out there waiting to be found. . . .right?

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Tags: 2014 Mlb Draft

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