The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #28 spot is reserved to Jonathan Davis, an athletic outfielder who continues to quietly make some noise in the Minors.
At 26 years of age, Jonathan Davis checks in as one of the older names on the Jays top prospects list. Nevertheless, the undersized yet athletic outfielder out of the University of Central Arkansas continues to make noise in the minors, which has allowed him to finally earn the call to the Majors.
Name: Jonathan Davis
Position: OF Age: 26
Height: 5’8 Weight: 190 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 15th round pick in 2013
A twitchy and explosive athlete, Davis is coming off quite possibly his best minor league season. Starting the year off down in Double-A New Hampshire, Davis was lost in the shuffle of the Blue Jays’ most talented minor league ball club. Surrounded by the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio, it was easy to forget about the 26-year old outfielder.
That did not stop Davis from rising to the occasion and performing, compiling a triple slash line of .302/.388/.830 through 78 games as a Fisher Cat, while showing off some speed (19 stolen bags) as well as some sneaky pop (five home runs) in the process.
His high level of play earned him a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo where he spent just 46 games up until his eventual call-up to the major league club. In his short stint in a Bisons uniform, Davis came across some struggles at the plate, largely in part to a slightly increased K-rate (14.8% in AA compared to 20.3% in AAA) and a drop in BABIP (.345 in AA down to .297 in AAA).
MLB Pipeline ranks Davis’ future hit tool at 50.
With supreme athleticism, Davis boasts good bat-to-ball skills. He has a gap-to-gap approach at the plate and despite an elevated strike-out rate in his short amount of time in AAA and with the main club (44.7 percent O-Swing % as per Fangraphs, albeit through 25 ABs), Davis still has advanced strike zone awareness. Early on in his minor league career, he had a tendency to become pull happy, but with adjustments has learned to line the ball to all fields with more consistency.
For Davis, power will never be the calling card, so to speak.
That being said, the former UCA Bear carries surprising strength in his smaller 5-foot-8,190 pound frame. While the 20+ home run power is not there, Davis still has some sneaky pop from the right side of the plate. He has a good feel for the barrel and stays athletic and explosive in the box, allowing him to generate quick bat speed.
In 2016, Davis hit 14 homers for the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays. He hit 10 home runs in the minors last season, splitting time between the Fisher Cats and Bisons. In fact, attending the final series of the Bisons season, I was impressed to see Davis take a pitch away to right-center field for a home run.
Davis’ speed grades out as his best tool on the baseball diamond, and rightfully so.
A fast-twitch athlete, Davis is a consistently sub-4.20 second runner (home-to-first) and uses his speed and explosive first step to be a constant threat on the bases, accumulating 101 stolen bags across six minor league seasons. As the game shies away from stealing, Davis’ speed also translates perfectly into the outfield where he has the ability to play all three outfield positions.
Building off of his impressive speed, Davis has a quick first step in the outfield which gives him plus range and the ability to play all three outfield positions. MLB Pipeline grades out his arm at a 45, which would limit his productivity in right field and the lack of power forces Davis to remain in centre field as opposed to the corners.
Despite Davis’ lack of arm strength, Davis’ athleticism, speed, and plus range make him a very capable outfield option on the major league level, and combined with his ability to make consistent contact at the plate, Davis will have a chance to vie for a spot on the Blue Jays opening day roster. Of course, he will compete with the likes of Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, and fellow top prospects Billy McKinney and Anthony Alford, but that being said while the upside isn’t comparable between Davis and some of the Blue Jays other top prospects, Davis is a lower risk prospect and has the translatable tools that can presently provide big league value.