The White Sox added another young hitter to the pile of youthful bats they’ve acquired this offseason.
Matt Davidson joins Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton as 20-something unproven hitters new to the organization. Davidson comes over from Arizona at the cost of closer Addison Reed.
Reed, a former third round pick in 2010, raced through the minor league system with the White Sox and totaled 69 saves in two years as the team’s closer.
The idea is that Davidson, 22, can fill the third base hole that has been apparent for years other than the short-term stay of Kevin Youkilis. Davidson was taken in the supplemental first round in 2009, 35th overall, out of high school.
His pro debut came in the short-season Northwest League and he posted a .631 OPS. The next season was his best stint as a pro. He went to the Low-A Midwest League and belted 54 extra base hits in 475 plate appearances. He struck out 109 times, which isn’t a bad number for a player his age at that level. Overall he hit .289/.371/.504.
Davidson earned a late stint in High-A that was brief and unsuccessful. In 2011 he spent a full year in High-A and the power remained good, but he struck out 147 times in 606 plate appearances. His OPS also dipped to .814.
2012 brought a gradual improvement while moving up to AA at just 21 years old. Handling the jump to AA raised his stock to a new high, but 2013 wasn’t as successful.
Last year in AAA his K rate jumped to 26.8 and his walk rate dropped considerably. Posting an .831 OPS in the Pacific Coast League (a notorious hitters’ league) also isn’t going to win a ton of praise. A deeper look shows that Davidson had a slow start in April (.698 OPS) and improved month-by-month. In July he hit .259/.381/.556 and by mid-August he made his Major League debut.
His K rate in the Majors (24 in 87 PA) is the stat to watch. It’s possible he doesn’t make enough contact to become a regular. However, his power can make up for some of that. Doesn’t a low-contact slugger sound familiar? Let’s see if the Sox can get this one to work.
Defense will be key to his future because his value is highest as a third baseman. There have been questions about his footwork at third and his overall ability at the position.
Davidson is a high-upside bat with concerns on both offense and defense. Those concerns could limit his ability to make it in the Majors, but he has enough potential to immediately be a top five prospect in the system, though he probably won’t be a prospect for much longer.