Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Davis A Second Powerful Catcher in Round 16

By Robbie Knopf

By now, you have presumably read a good amount about the Tampa Bay Rays’ second round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Chris Betts. If you haven’t yet have somehow stumbled upon this piece about the Rays’ 16th rounder, I recommend reading our profile of Betts. In any event, Chris Betts is a catcher with power and so is the Rays’ pick here, Joe Davis. Betts and Davis were the two finalists in the Area Code Games Home Run Derby in 2014, and it was not Betts but Davis who came out on top.

More from Rays Colored Glasses

In a lot of ways, Davis is the more extreme version of Davis. Betts has some questions about his ability to remain at catcher, but he has a good throwing arm and has put in a lot of work at the position. His chances of sticking as a backstop are 50-50 if not better. In any event, Betts stands out a lot more for his incredible power and above-average bat speed at the plate, enough that he could profile well at first base if necessary. The Rays’ hope, though, is that he both remains a catcher and develops well offensively on his way to stardom in the major leagues.

That best-case scenario is much less likely with Joe Davis. He’s even bigger than Betts at 6’2″, 225 and features questionable arm strength behind the plate. His athleticism manifests itself more at the plate than behind it as his motions aren’t smooth and he has issues blocking balls in the dirt. Even if the Rays wanted to make Davis a catcher, they would be hoping for him to hit like crazy and make a conversion to another position a reasonable possibility.

Davis’ raw power may be even better than Betts’, although he can’t quite compare with regards to bat speed. He sells out for power too often and sees his swing get lengthy, and he also has issues with secondary pitches. There is no guarantee that he will hit enough for his power to be a major factor. It isn’t just defense that makes Betts a better prospect than Davis. However, that isn’t a slight to Davis in any way–scouts visualize a middle-of-the-order hitter as they see his power and still-impressive bat speed. His development will take time, but it could easily be worthwhile.

Reeling in Joe Davis as well as Garrett Whitley and Chris Betts would give the Tampa Bay Rays system a significant infusion of power. The issue, though, is that getting them all signed will not be easy. Davis was at least a fourth or fifth round talent, so it would be no surprise if he asks the Rays for $350,000 or $400,000. Where will the Rays get that money from given that Betts will likely require an above-slot bonus himself? Davis will be an extremely tough sign for the Rays, but they will hope to find some way to sign him and develop his mighty swing in their organization.

Click this link to read our other 2015 Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft profiles.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Ethan Clark Brings Imposing Frame in Round 15