Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meet a Prospect: Ike Davis

The New York Yankees are currently weathering the storm that we will call the “First Base Curse” after losing Mark Teixeira, Chris Parmelee, Greg Bird and Dustin Ackley to injuries already this season. New York has flushed Robert Refsnyder into the position and while his bat has been surprisingly quiet his defense has been more than adequate for a man just learning the position in my opinion. Despite this and despite naming Refsnyder as the everyday first baseman the Yankees couldn’t help themselves when they saw an outcast veteran on the free agent market and they signed Ike Davis to a deal over the weekend. Let’s meet him.

This is Meet a Prospect: The Ike Davis Edition. Isaac Benjamin “Ike” Davis was born on March 22, 1987 and has spent time on the major league roster with the New York Mets, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Oakland Athletics before being signed by the New York Yankees. Davis was born in Edina, Minnesota to Millie and Ron Davis and was born with baseball in his blood. Ike’s father, Ron, pitched 481 games in his 11-year Major Leaguer career as a power relief pitcher and even had a 1981 All-Star Game appearance under his belt with the New York Yankees. Davis, senior and junior, have the fighters instincts in their blood as one of Ike’s great aunts on his mother’s side was a Holocaust survivor while Davis’ grandfather on his father’s side was a paratrooper for the United States army and was one of the brave souls who stormed the beach in Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Davis spent his high school years at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona where he won three state titles from 2003-2005. While there Davis set the school record for batting average in a single season hitting .559 as a sophomore beating out Paul Konerko by the slimmest of margins who hit .558 in 1994. Davis also broke Konerko’s single season doubles record with 23 in a season all while doubling as a pitcher as well. In 2003 while still in High School David pitched for the USA Youth National Team who won a gold medal in the International Baseball Federation World Youth Championships in Taiwan. Winning was in Davis’ blood and he took that winning mentality and spirit to Arizona State University where he continued his amateur career.

While with Arizona State Davis played DH, first base and corner outfield while pitching on Friday nights (traditionally the ace of the staff pitches on Friday night) as a freshman and continued that throughout his Junior year. Davis finished his collegiate career with a .353 batting average, 244 hits, 33 home runs, 69 doubles and 202 RBI as a hitter. As a pitcher and the Sun Devils closer Davis totaled a 7-5 record with 4 saves and 78 strikeouts while winning two Pac-10 Championships with a trip to the 2007 College World Series thrown into the mix as well. In the 2008 MLB First Year Players Draft the New York Mets selected Davis with the 18th pick overall and Davis decided to sign rather than return to ASU for his senior season thus beginning his professional career.

Davis was not long for the minor leagues as he spent half a season in 2008 with the club before being invited to spring training before the 2010 season by the Mets. Despite leading the team in hitting with a .480 average and three home runs Davis was optioned back to the minor leagues at the end of spring but by April 19th Davis was back in the Mets set to make his MLB debut despite only 65 games above A-Ball in his career. Davis debuted against the Chicago Cubs and wasted no time hitting a single in his first MLB bat before finishing with a 2-4 night in a Mets victory. Davis had a pair of multi-hit games in his first four games and showcased an underrated and strong glove at first base for New York.

Davis was back for his sophomore season in the majors in 2011 and he picked up right where he left off in 2010 with at least one RBI in nine of his first 10 games of the season. An ankle injury was the only thing that could slow Davis down and one did just that on May 10, 2011 limiting him to just 36 games. Injury and disease was holding Davis back again in 2012 as well as Davis was diagnosed with valley fever, a rare dust-borne fungal infection endemic that was seen mainly in the American southwest. Davis started slow after the diagnosis before waking up in July just in time to become only the 9th Met in their history to his three home runs in a game against a former Yankee and current Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy. Davis eclipsed the 30 home run plateau in 2012 but one again started slow in 2013 prompting him to be demoted to Triple-A in June of that year.

Davis would come back in July of 2013 but he never again reached the marks he did previous in his career which was highlighted by his benching in 2014. Davis found himself playing in the backup role to Lucas Duda in New York until the Mets traded Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 18th in exchange for Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. Davis enjoyed a good season in Pittsburgh but he was ultimately designated for assignment by the club in 2014 and traded to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for bonus slots for use in signing international free agents. How far the mighty have fallen.

Davis had a lackluster 2015 campaign with the A’s that ended with a torn hip labrum and another season ending surgery for the former ASU star and another offseason where Davis found himself on the free agent market. This time the Texas Rangers came calling signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training before releasing him once again on Jun 12, 2015. Now Davis is looking to latch on with the Yankees after signing a Major League deal and looking to harness some of the potential that made him so special for so long. Welcome to the organization Ike and most importantly welcome to the family.

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