The Ones That Got Away: Ike Davis

By Robbie Knopf

The Rays have never developed a first baseman. Carlos Pena was the closest that they ever came, but the Rays were his fifth team. Ike Davis could have been that guy.

In the 2005 MLB Draft, the Devil Rays selected 6 future big leaguers. The first was Jeremy Hellickson in the 4th round. Then from rounds 18 to 20, the Rays drafted three players who would blossom into big leaguers in other organizations: Tommy Hunter, Ike Davis, and Wade Miley.

The D-Rays selected Davis out of Chaparral High School in Arizona. He slipped so far in the draft because of his strong commitment to Arizona State University. After three great years at ASU, Davis was the 18th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.

Ike Davis is still trying to find himself as a big leaguer. Davis’ pro career began in 2008 at Short Season-A Brooklyn in that same 2008 season. The Mets organization had to alarmed when Davis didn’t hit a single homer in his 58-game pro debut, posting a .256/.326/.326 line. But the next season, Davis worked his way from High-A to Double-A, posting a .298/.381/.524 line with 31 doubles, 20 homers, and 71 RBI in 114 games. The next season, Davis was in the big leagues. In 2010, Davis posted a .264/.351/.440 line with 33 doubles, 19 homers, and 71 RBI in 147 games, finishing 7th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

2011 got off to an outstanding start for Davis. He posted a .302/.383/.543 line in the season’s first 36 games, slamming 8 doubles and 7 homers while driving in 25. But then he went down with a left ankle injury, damage to the cartilage in his tibia, that would sideline him the remaining of the season. Thus far in 2012, Davis has posted just a .167/.222/.310 line as I’m writing this with 3 doubles, 5 homers, and 14 RBI. He leads the Mets in home runs with 5, but all his other stats are nowhere near up to par.

Davis is a big 6’4″, 230 with big-time power as a lefty batter. He has a good eye at the plate and hits the ball hard when he connects. If he can cut down on the strikeouts he should be fine moving forward. Davis is a similar player to a young Carlos Pena. Pena hit for some power, but he couldn’t hit for enough power or draw enough walks to offset his propensity for striking out and he traveled from team to team until he finally arrived in Tampa Bay. Once he started slamming 30-40 home runs, he was good enough. Will Davis ever reach that level? That remains to be seen.

Davis was drafted by the Mets the year after Pena signed with Rays and broke out with his 46 homer season. Funny how that worked out- funny how everything works out in the end. We can wonder what if Ike Davis signed back in ’05, but we just have to appreciate everything we’ve gotten from Carlos Pena and realize that things probably wouldn’t be any better than they are now.