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45 Prospects in 45 Days: Chicago’s Matthew Davidson

matt_davidson
Photo Credit: NJ Baseball

Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.

For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.

Profile

The Chicago White Sox acquired third base prospect Matthew Davidson from the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason in a trade that saw them send away closer Addison Reed. This immediately changed the future of Davidson, who is now looking at very little competition at the hot corner.

Davidson, a soon-to-be 23 year old, has shown impressive power throughout his minor league career and displayed it during the 2013 Future’s game:

Matt Davidson

The power is solid. The rest of the package, however, is a bit uncertain. Strikeouts have been an issue for the young slugger and may limit his offensive potential. As for his defense, scouts have noted an improvement in the field, but Davidson’s fielding ability is still considered a short-coming. He will need to progress in that area if he wants to make the White Sox roster. A full outfield and Jose Abreu at first base puts an end to Davidson’s other options.

Standing in Davidson’s way to become the White Sox everyday third baseman are Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger. Gillaspie manned the position last season, but may be only slightly better than a replacement level player. Keppinger has shoulder woes and it would be difficult to imagine him as an everyday player at this point in his career. The truth is, the only thing that stands in Davidson’s way are Davidson and service time. If he puts on a solid showing during Spring Training, he still may be sent to the minors to delay his service time.

Davidson got a taste of the big leagues for the Dbacks last season and in 31 games hit .237/.333/.434. He knocked out three homeruns and struck out 24 times in 87 plate appearances.

Pundits

Over the past few seasons, Matt Davidson has been consistently in the top-5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Here is how he fits within the top 100 prospects:

Baseball America: 72
Keith Law: 88
MLB.com: 80
Marc Hulet: 62
Baseball Prospectus: 93

Fangraphs prospect writer, Marc Hulet, discusses Davidson:

“He’s solidified his case to stick at the hot corner after spending the 2011 season split between the hot corner and first base. He still makes youthful errors at the position but he’s improved in almost every aspect, including his footwork, throwing/accuracy and range. At the plate, Davidson shows impressive gap power that should produce a plethora of two-baggers and 15-20 homers in a full season. His high strikeout totals will drag down his batting average at the big league level.”

Minor League Production

Davidson has been fairly consistent since the beginning of his minor league career. The theme: above average power and too many whiffs.

Year Team G PA HR SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2009 A- 72 299 2 0 7.0% 25.1% .078 .326 .241 .312 .319 .304
2010 A 113 475 16 0 9.1% 22.9% .214 .354 .289 .371 .504 .393
2010 A+ 21 84 2 0 14.3% 29.8% .099 .227 .169 .298 .268 .268
2011 A+ 135 606 20 0 8.6% 24.3% .189 .343 .279 .350 .467 .359
2012 R 11 46 2 0 4.3% 39.1% .150 .286 .200 .283 .350 .295
2012 AA 135 575 23 3 12.0% 21.9% .208 .304 .261 .367 .469 .382
2013 AAA 115 500 17 1 9.2% 26.8% .201 .359 .280 .350 .481 .366

The ISO is above average to great and Davidson obviously flashes 20-25 homerun power. The strikeout issue is unlikely to go away, however. If Davidson’s career doesn’t progress as hoped, the whiffs will likely be to blame. The walk rate hovers at around the above average mark, so that should help him get on-base at a decent clip.

Projections

System PA R HR RBI SB CS BB% SO% AVG OBP SLG
ZiPS 600 66 21 68 2 2 8.8% 30.7% .236 .312 .410
Steamer 265 30 9 31 2 1 8.2% 25.7% .237 .307 .408
Oliver 600 61 20 71 1 1 8.2% 34.8% .210 .281 .373

The projections are pretty down on Davidson. They all seem to agree on the power, but rip Davidson apart everywhere else, especially the strikeouts. Oliver’s projection is especially bleak.

Prediction

Matthew Davidson has a chance to make the White Sox out of Spring Training, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him spend a month or two down on the farm. If he can cut down some on the K-rate, we could have a solid CI or deep league 3B option for the second half of 2014. If he happens to win the third base battle, Davidson could hit 20 homers over the course of a full season. The batting average will likely be low, but the potential for an above average walk-rate could make Davidson useful in OBP leagues.

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