Minor League Player of the Year: Chris Davis

Chris Davis

Lone Star Dugout names 21-year-old third baseman Chris Davis as the minor league player of the year in the Rangers organization for 2007. Davis batted .297 with 36 home runs and 118 runs batted in between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco this season.

The 2007 season was a banner year for the Texas Rangers' minor league system, and no position player shined brighter than 21-year-old third baseman Chris Davis.

A native of Longview, Texas and a product of Corsicana's Navarro College, Davis was the Rangers' fifth round pick in the 2006 draft.

After being drafted by the Yankees in the 50th round in 2004, Davis elected to attend school at the University of Texas. He figured to play a key role with the Longhorns as the club's starting third baseman, but ended up leaving the school for Navarro after one semester.

A productive freshman season in JUCO ball enticed the Anaheim Angels to select Davis in the 35th round of the 2005 draft. Davis became one of the top junior college sluggers in the nation as a sophomore, hitting .370 with 17 home runs and 71 runs batted in. However, the Angels were unable to reach an agreement with Davis before the draft-and-follow deadline.

With a letter of intent to play at the University of Arkansas already in hand, the Rangers took Davis in the fifth round of the 2006 draft – marking the third time Davis had been drafted in the last three years. He eventually signed for a reported $172,500 and began to display his outstanding power immediately.

Although Davis had flashed a low-90's fastball during his time in high school and college, the Rangers preferred to use him as a position player only. The native Texan split time between first base and left field during his professional debut with the short-season Spokane Indians. He was more than impressive with the bat, as he hit .277 with 18 doubles, 15 home runs, and 42 RBI in only 69 contests.

The Rangers moved Davis to third base for the 2007 campaign, where he struggled over the course of the season. Despite making 34 errors on the year, Davis – who certainly has the arm to play the position – felt he made strides with his footwork during the season.

"[My defense] has come a long ways, but it still has a long way to go," said Davis. "I really worked hard this year with Carlos [Subero] in Bakersfield to correct my flaws. Most of it is my footwork. That's just something I'm going to work hard on every day."

But Davis never let his problems in the field carry over to his offensive game.

Davis was a 5th round pick in 2006.
Davis was sent directly to High-A Bakersfield as a 21-year-old to open the 2007 season, and he struggled to adjust from the outset. The left-handed slugger batted just .233 with 32 strikeouts in 90 April at bats.

Following a mediocre May, Davis quickly became one of the most feared hitters in all of minor league baseball. He would go on to match the California League record 35-game hitting streak in the midst of his torrid stretch in both June and July. Though he was on fire during the streak, Davis was quick to chalk up its length to good fortune.

"It was just one of those things where I felt good on some days and I felt bad on some days," said Davis in late-July. "On days I felt bad, I just managed to get hits however they come. I just kind of got lucky a few games."

Davis' total body of work in Bakersfield included a .298 average with 24 home runs and 93 RBI in only 99 games. He led the California League in both home runs and runs batted in at the time of his promotion to Double-A Frisco.

Even though the third baseman posted mind-numbing power statistics with the Blaze, he had drawn just 22 walks while striking out 123 times in 386 at bats. Shortly after his promotion, Davis told Lone Star Dugout that he wanted to correct those problems by becoming a more patient hitter.

"Lately I've been trying to shrink my strike zone a little bit," said Davis shortly after being promoted to Double-A. "I want to keep myself from chasing pitches."

The 6-foot-3 power-hitter seemed to make the adjustments with ease after joining the RoughRiders. Not only did he continue to hit for power – he had 12 home runs and 25 RBI in 30 games – but he saw his walks increase and his strikeouts decrease. In 109 at bats at the Double-A level, Davis drew 13 free passes and struck out only 27 times.

Chris Davis entered the 2007 season as a sleeper prospect and ended it as arguably the organization's top power-hitting prospect. Not only was he young for the Texas League this season, but he handled the circuit's pitching with little issue and seemed to make adjustments at will. This is why Davis – who finished the year with 38 home runs and 116 RBI – is Lone Star Dugout's Minor League Player of the year.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
2007 Bakersfield (A+) .298 386 28 24 93 69 3 22 123 .340 .573
Frisco (AA) .294 109 7 12 25 21 0 13 27 .371 .688
Total .297 495 35 36 118 90 3 35 150 .347 .598


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