The New York Yankees have a lot of fans. That’s why the Bronx Bombers show up in about half of the national baseball broadcasts. While that’s annoying, one silver lining from all those followers is they produce a lot of team fan websites. So when your team trades for a Yankee prospect, finding informed opinions isn’t difficult. Keep in mind they’re written by fans. But they uniformly love Rookie Davis, especially after his breakout 2015 season.

The Basics  William Theron (“Rookie”) Davis III is from North Carolina. He got the nickname from his father, who called him Rookie from the day he was born. As a two-year-old, Davis attended the game in Camden Yards when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak. Davis grew up in North Carolina, dominating his high school baseball circuit. That’s where he came to the attention of the Yankees who drafted him in the 14th round in 2011. Davis is 22 years old, right-handed, stands 6’5″ and weighs all of 245 lbs. According to Nicholas Stellini (Pinstripe Alley), that weight is pure muscle. Rich Wilson (Prospects361) says Davis is a big dude, every bit of 6’5″/245 if not more.

The first three years of Davis’ minor league career were nothing much. Then came 2015.

2015 Breakout Season  Rookie Davis spent most of 2015 pitching for the Yankees’ High-A team in Tampa of the Florida State League. Tampa competes against the Daytona Tortugas, the Reds’ High-A affiliate. Davis started 19 games for Tampa then was promoted to AA Trenton where he pitched in six games, five as a starter. For Tampa, Davis pitched 97.1 innings and struck out 105 batters, walking only 18. Those are great numbers. Doug Gray details Davis’ season here.

After Rookie Davis’ breakout season, he shot up various prospect lists. The Yankees moved Davis to their 40-man roster this November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. One analyst thought Davis might be as high as the #7 starter in the entire Yankees system, including their major league pitchers.

Comparison to Amir Garrett  Amir Garrett is the #4 Reds prospect according to Doug as well as Both services have Garrett ranked above Cody Reed. Garrett and Rookie Davis pitched in the Florida State League in 2015. Here is how they compare:


Davis has a better strikeout and walk rate and also induces more ground ball outs. Rookie Davis is almost a full year younger than Amir Garrett.

Stuff  Davis throws a fastball that has been described as 92-94, can hit 96; a 95 mph heater; routinely sitting in the mid-90s, peaking at 96; a sharp breaking curve ball and a change-up. Here are a couple scouting reports:

Rich Wilson (Prospects361) Scouting Report: Davis has a nice three pitch mix that starts with his fastball that sits 91 to 93 MPH (T94). While he doesn’t have premium velocity, the pitch has a ton of movement and the night I saw him, batters had a tough time squaring him up. Despite the movement as well as his length, he pitches more in the top of the zone and is a fly ball pitcher as a result. That will not play well in Yankees Stadium and is something he needs to work on. His secondary pitches are good with his curveball ahead of his change-up.

Gershon Rabinowitz (Baseball Essential): Davis features a four seam fastball clocked between 94 and 96 miles per hour, an uptick from his velocity early in professional career. Mixing in a two seam fastball of late, Davis is beginning to generate sinking action, leading to an increased amount of ground balls and a better economy of pitches. His changeup and curveball have been described as average offerings by scouts and are aspects of his arsenal he continues to refine at the minor league level. “I am definitely working on my secondary pitches”, Davis said. “I have been able to command my fastball. I am getting to where I need to throw a curveball for a strike, a changeup for a strike, early in the count and control my stuff better than I have, while being able to able to have success commanding the fastball early and expanding the zone late with my secondary stuff.”

Chad Jennings (LoHud Yankees Blog): Improved strikeout and walk numbers made me think of Shane Greene, another Yankees pitching prospect who loomed as kind of a sleeper for years and emerged with one real breakout season. Expected to open in Double-A, Davis is now considered the top upper-level pitching prospect in the system. He has a spot on the 40-man roster, so you can’t rule him out for a big league call-up this season, but it’s more realistic to hope for a strong first half in Double-A, a strong finish in Triple-A, and some sort of big league role in 2017.

Nicholas Stellini (Pinstripe Alley): Yet unlike many hard-throwing prospects, Davis has control of his heater. His low walk rate from A-ball has followed him to Trenton thus far. In three outings, Davis is so far only walking an average of 1.20 batters every nine innings. Though his ERA has been inflated since being promoted (4.80 in just 15 innings while pitching in front of a poor infield defense), his 3.11 FIP shows that he’s been pitching quality baseball.

Rankings  Davis made a huge jump up prospects lists after his 2015 season. Prior to Monday’s trade, Davis was ranked the #10 player in the Yankee system by, #6 prospect by Baseball America and not rated in the top ten by Baseball Prospectus. Any rankings prior to 2015 are meaningless.

2016 for the Reds  Davis will likely start for AA Pensacola. Given the starting pitcher log jam in the Reds minor league system, it’s hard to say how quickly Davis can move up to AAA or to the Reds. His large stature and pitch portfolio have indicated to some that he best fits a bullpen role. Others have said he could be a strong candidate for the middle-to-back of a major league rotation. The Reds are fortunate to have a dugout full of players who fit that description.

On the basis of an outstanding 2015, you can add Rookie Davis to that list.

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Related Posts

60 Responses

  1. jessecuster44

    Wow – this guy looks to have some upside! Encouraging.

    Of course, he’s a pitcher. Hope the Reds can pick up some offensive prospects with the same upside, instead of league average hopefuls like Jagielo.

    • gaffer

      Clearly we need some offense, but the Royals and Mets made the WS based nearly entirely off their pitching. They had lots of solid hitters but sure did not have any “power hitters’. Offense is down all over baseball so the same .275/.330/.410 hitter that used to be an average player is now a solid starter. E. Suarez for example could easily have numbers like that.

      I think where the reds could help themselves is draft hitters (as they are now scarcer) and trade for pitchers (as they are more available). As example, the Reds really wanted Bradley Zimmer from Cleveland for Frasier but was refused. BUT a year ago they could have chosen him in the draft instead of Nick Howard (probably a bust but also a superfluous talent in our system – right handed reliever converting to starter). If they drafted Zimmer, they could have easily gotten two or three of Cleveland’s young pitchers. Heck, LA might have traded Peraza for one of them! Its just about maximizing value instead of saying “oh today we need X for this player.”

      • sultanofswaff

        Fair point. That said, I’m with the front office in the sense that I too believe pitching is the key to playoffs, both getting in and getting through. More to the point, run prevention needs to be weighted more heavily because of the ballpark we play in.

      • jessecuster44

        Is it too much to ask to trade for one excellent offensive prospect instead of four prospects that might stick? Trading Chappy and Frazier for organizational depth? I dislike. You could trade Bruce for some depth. Trade your big pieces for some difference makers, not some maybes.

      • Playtowin

        The Reds were not offered inexpensive difference makers for Frazier or Chapman. If they were they would have taken them. Teams like to keep inexpensive difference makers.

      • jessecuster44

        I’m sure.

        But I’m also sure that The Reds could have gotten a better deal on both players if they had been smarter. The end result is simply unacceptable.

      • Michael E

        Jesse, you assume none of them will become good MLB starters. We don’t know that. They ALL have talent, its just that some rank lower on lists. WE all know how accurate these lists are, right? Not very…

      • jessecuster44

        Yeah, but when the majority of experts universally pan both trades, but Walt and Co. are high on Peraza – who has been sent on by two organizations?

        This is all they could get for Frazier and Chappy? Something stinks. I hope you’re right and I am wrong.

  2. sultanofswaff

    I dunno, this all reads like the profile of a #5 starter or swingman. The Reds seemingly have a half dozen of those guys ahead of him, so it’s gonna be tough to get an opportunity. His flyball tendancies won’t help matters. Garrett has a much higher ceiling IMO—that of a mid rotation starter or lockdown reliever.

    I’ll call this trade a win if we get 6 cost controlled years of Davis as a swingman and Jagielo as a utility guy for LF/3B/1B, because it will preclude the front office from ever signing a Marquis/Schumaker/Cairo ever again.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I think with Garrett, we have to consider that even though he’s a year older, he had a few years that he didn’t play full season or get a Spring Training due to playing college basketball. That certainly put his development back. The jumps he’s made since focusing on baseball have been encouraging, and I agree he has a higher ceiling.

    • Michael E

      Funny thing Sultan, that same scouting report 20 years ago looks like an ace to me. Just because mid 90s is now a yawn, doesn’t make this a #5, end-of-rotation type. He is a big power pitcher with control, good ground ball rate and good K rate. How on earth is that “reads like the profile of a #5 starter”?

      I would guess Glavine and Maddux, with their low 90s fastballs read like mop-up relievers?

  3. RedsFaninPitt

    In spite of others claiming Jagielo or Jagielo and Davis being the main pieces in this trade, I think it was Davis who is head and shoulders above the rest. Jagielo was a distant 2nd – more than a throw-in, but a flawed prospect who still has a lot to prove.

  4. WVRedlegs

    Very encouraging. Differing viewpoints, but all come to say good things about Davis and his repertoire. That bodes very well for the Reds in this trade. They are amassing big arms and “big dudes”. And almost all between 22-24 years old.
    Davis 6’5″/245 (22), Garrett 6’5″/215 (23), Sal Romano 6’5″/260 (22), Cody Reed 6’5″/225 (22), Nick Travieso 6’2″/225 (22), Rob Stephenson 6’2″/195 (22), John Lamb 6’3″/195 (25), Lorenzen 6’3″/190, Keury Mella 6’2″/200, and the runt of the litter Brandon Finnegan 5’11″/185 (22). And lest we forget what the Reds reaped from the Marlon Byrd trade, Stephen Johnson 6’4″/215 (24), who had a very good AFL.
    Big dudes, big logjam. That is a tsunami of talent coming in the pitching ranks.

    • WVRedlegs

      Left off Lorenzen’s age (24) and Mella (22). I knew I was going to leave somebody out. Jon Moscot 6’4″/210 (24).

    • doofus

      Exceptional results first, then a proclamation that there is a tsunami of pitching talent coming.

  5. Jonathan Linn

    I wonder if people would have been happy if the Reds traded Chapman straight up for Aaron Judge? Because that seems to be what hitting is going for. I wonder if Chapman would have been enough…

    • CP

      Yes, people would have been thrilled.

      No, the Yankees wouldn’t have done it for Chapman alone.

    • doofus

      Happy, happy if Jorge Mateo was a Red; the four for Chapman are a dread.

  6. Hotto4Votto

    I do think Davis is the best piece coming back in this deal. And in general I like him overall. At the same time, he has a lot of guys ahead of him in the Reds system (either in rankings or in level) to jump over to even get a shot at starting in the Majors.

    With that said, the FSL is a notoriously pitching friendly league. So I am always a little wary when pitchers “break out” in a league that plays to their strengths/position. It would be similar getting excited about Kyle Waldrop or Seth Mejias-Brean when they “broke out” in the Cal-league (a notoriously hitter friendly league). Because when they went to a more neutral league in AA they both saw regression.

    Similarly, Davis saw a regression in K/9 dropping from 9.71 to 6.48. He also saw a slight rise in BB/9. (Small sample size of 33 innings) Of course the jump to AA is said to be the biggest in the minors, so that also likely played a factor. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a full year at that level. It will also be interesting to see if all those guys at AA will push each other in friendly competition.

    Being a fly ball pitcher also doesn’t figure to play well in GABP. There’s a long list of pitchers who have struggled with the Reds and then went on to find success later, such as Harang, Volquez, and Lohse.

    • CP

      Yep, not saying we shouldn’t be optimistic about Davis, but one of the lines in every article about Jesse Winker is how the FSL suppresses hitters. The AA numbers are too small to worry about, but his numbers in High A after to be viewed with some skepticism.

      • Steve Mancuso

        That’s a good point about the league. On the other hand, Davis still had the best numbers in that league. So while one shouldn’t take his FIP as something that will translate to the major leagues, obviously, he still stands out as one of the best – if not the best – pitcher in the FSL.

      • Steve Mancuso

        And the league issues concern shapes of the ballparks. Don’t think that affects his K% or BB% or improvement in GB%.

      • CP

        No doubt, and the FSL also benefitted both Garrett and Travieso, players Davis outperformed (although many prospect lists will likely rank both ahead of him).

      • Michael E

        Also, heavy, humid air in the FSL, that affects power. We know western high-desert locations make hitting much easier and breaking balls much less effective, and that is why the PCL and California league is such hitter leagues.

        The eastern leagues almost all are pitching friendly based more on climate and elevation, than stadium sizes (though that plays a role location to location).

        It’s why Dodgers prospects hitting 30 HRs aren’t really 30 HR hitters and Reds prospects hitting 15 HRs are likely projecting a bit better later. One thing I know, unless its New Orleans players (pitchers haven), is that PCL hitters are overrated by stats and a stud PCL pitcher is to die for…the reverse in the eastern half of the U.S.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Like I said, the point was that Davis was the best pitcher in that league. He had a better season than Amir Garrett. You can take that for what it’s worth.

      • Michael E

        Excellent point. To be the best or even one of the top 10 in a league is impressive and full of hope. I am liking Davis alot. I just hope the 3B isn’t like many of the recent past Reds, good at HRs but lacking in hitting fundamentals. At least he has potential still. Maybe we’ll finally stumble upon a very good hitting coach or instructor that really holds players accountable for improving and more importantly, adapting (fixing what’s broke, taking what they give you, etc).

    • Steve Mancuso

      The factors that cause a league to be pitcher friendly don’t affect K% or BB%.

      • Hotto4Votto

        No, but K’s went down and BB’s went up when he moved leagues. The small sample size and jump in level certainly had something to do with that. But I’ve seen enough prospects break out in leagues that play to their position or strength enough, just to see them struggle moving forward, that I’m not ready to list him among the top pitching prospects in our system after one good season in a pitching friendly league. Travieso and Garrett both had strong seasons in Dayton prior to posting strong seasons in Daytona.

    • Jack

      One guy said he was a flyball picture and then another guy said he induced more groundballs. The first guy who said he was a flyball picture admitted he only saw him pitch once. Most of these guys know little.

      • Hotto4Votto

        That’s true. I also saw where one guy said Davis’ fast ball was straight (like Hoover’s) and in this write up above it says he gets good movement.

      • WVRedlegs

        Early on his 4-seam fastball didn’t move much. He now also throws a 2-seam fastball of late, that is beginning to generate sinking action leading to an increased amount of ground balls. Key words are “of late” and “beginning to generate”. Part of the developmental process. I’d say more towards the beginning of the year he was more fly ball oriented, but as the season progressed and his 2 seamer progressed, he got more ground balls.
        That type of progress is a good thing, especially at 22 years old.

  7. Kevin Michell

    The logjam and his profile have me thinking that he, Mella, and perhaps Finnegan all slide into the bullpen. Those 2 or 3 plus Hoover and Jumbo could give the Reds their own version of Holland/Davis/Herrera.

    • Hotto4Votto

      You can probably add Lorenzen to that list as well. Zach Weiss and Stephen Johnson also profile as solid relief options, if not necessarily back end options. With all the pitching we have stockpiled, we should be able to produce a cheap and effective bullpen in the near future.

      • Joe McManus

        This is one of my favorite things about all these young arms that we’re stockpiling. We should be able to easily produce a cheap, effective bullpen and an inexpensive rotation as well. Theoretically, that leaves us money to spend on some bats in the future.

      • Kevin Michell

        True. That’s a lot of pretty good options to fill a pitching staff over the next few years.

      • George Mirones

        Or package for THE trade for a ML outfielder some time in June or July.

  8. Nick Carrington

    Davis is another good pitching prospect. Good to have him in the organization. Still, we traded Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman and received zero elite prospects in return. A few good ones but no elite ones. Six months ago, I would have never dreamed that was possible.

    • greenmtred

      Few of us dreamed it was possible, but we should have reviewed our own comments about Frazier and Chapman. Frazier streaky and strikeout prone, Chapman having little value as a closer. We understandably tend to overvalue our own players, particularly when they’re traded.

    • Michael E

      I too was somewhat disappointed that we couldn’t get a top 2 or 3 player from the other teams organization chart. I don’t think Frazier or Chapman elite, so I wasn’t completely shocked. Chapman could have been a elite trade chip, but between his rare usage as closer (the hibernation post for pitchers) and his off-the-field non-sense, I was not shocked the value dropped.

      Still, overall, I don’t find the trades disappointing on the whole. We did get a couple of talented players in each deal. The disappointment is more about what OTHER teams seem to get for similar players, but it isn’t apples to apples given money, service time, contracts, etc.

  9. Jack

    This guy has no upside. Just ask the people who commented on here after the trade. People need to go do what they are paid to do and let the Reds make the trades. Arm chair GMS think they know everything.

    • RedAlert

      Tell you what , there are a lot of folks on here that can do just as well or better than what clueless Jocketty has done – arm chair GMs or not

      • RedAlert

        Maybe he needs to refer to this blog more often for ideas, since he is still operating in the ice age

      • greenmtred

        On this blog we have the luxury of judging without having to actually negotiate the terrific deals we would make if only our lights weren’t hidden under a bushel basket.

      • Chuck Schick

        Walt Jocketty has been a GM for 21 seasons. His teams have won 52% of their games, been to the playoffs 10 times and the World Series twice…winning once. His teams have made the post season 48% of the time.

        Billy Beane has been a GM for 18 seasons. His teams have won 53% of their games, been to the playoffs 8 times and have won 1 playoff series. His teams have made the post season 44% of the time.

        Brian Sabean has won 53% of his games over 19 seasons. He’s been to the playoffs 7 times and the World Series 4 times, winning 3. His teams have made the playoffs 37% of the time.

      • RedAlert

        That’s fine and true – but he currently sucks ( sorry, not intended to knock you Chuck). Most importantly , he is STILL a part of the Reds organization and has his say in current transactions. Bigger problem is Castellini for bringing him back. Sooner his hand is out of the cookie jar the better.

      • Chuck Schick

        Did Jeff Luhnow ” suck” when the Astros lost 107,111 and 92 games in his first 3 years?

        Did Theo Epstein ” suck” when the Cubs lost 101,96 and 89 games?

        Or perhaps, they’re very able and competent people who were re-building.

      • RedAlert

        He sucks NOW Chuck – don’t care how you slice it or spin it. Throw all the stats out there that you want to. He’s no longer effective. He seems to have more trouble consummating deals with other teams than almost any other GM out there at this point in time . He can go rebuild somewhere else, cause he had set this franchise back years .

      • doofus

        Jocketty did nothing at the trade deadline to help the club in ’12 and ’13 when they were in the playoff hunt.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Agree about 2013, but in 2012 he acquired Broxton who was a big contributor the rest of the season.

      • Chuck Schick

        In 2013, he would have needed to make moves worthy of a 8 game swing in order to avoid the 1 game playoff where his best pitcher was shelled. Perhaps Mike Trout could’ve been obtained for the rights to use Rafeal Landestoy’s image for marketing purposes.

      • Chuck Schick

        Red Alert,

        Has a rebuilding franchise ever not been set back? Isn’t that the actual process of rebuilding….take some steps back so you can eventually move forward?

        What exactly do you want the Reds to do? I’m not asking about outcomes( I want the Reds to win) but inputs ( actions taken to produce an outcome). Given the financial realities, what would you specifically do differently?

      • RedAlert

        Jocketty started setting this franchise back way before this rebuilding started. Some of the previous contracts given were outlandish from the start and some attached with absolutely ridiculous buyout options. That’s part of how you start setting a franchise (already limited in expenditures) behind the 8 ball. Fully knowing that they would trade key players to firmly entrench themselves in rebuild mode , proceeded to overvalue players to the extent where he couldn’t make trades with other GMs. I’m not blaming him for what happened with Chapmans’s situation. However , could have traded him at the deadline for better return . I understand what rebuild means Chuck. Quite frankly, I hope the Reds are sold to another owner – can start with a rebuild there as well.

      • Michael E

        Chuck, I agree. I think a few are just angry the Reds won’t be very successful in the near future. I think they’ll be very good sooner than others seem to think.

        I’ve asked that too, what would you do different (other than rebuild with young players and cutting payroll for future FA signings), and I hear/see crickets. It’s just frustration. Is suspect those not happy with rebuilding actually understand it and are fine with it, but wish they were the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox or Cubs and able to spend their way into contention.

        I wish we could find the magic that St. Louis, San Fran and others have found to get and remain contenders annually, but lets not forget, some of those teams have stunk quite a bit over the past 30 years too (St. Louis has been consistently decent 9 of 10 seasons as an outlier and Jocketty was part of that).

  10. ArtWayne

    Nick, I feel the same way about our “modified” prospects for Frazier and Chappy. Both trades make the White Sox and Yankees serious contenders while the Reds only increase the chances we will have five regulars(Mesaroco, Phillips & Votto are elite) and a pitching staff that will compete in 2018 for the play-offs once again. We can only guess what the 16 & 17 attendance will be without Cueto, Leake, Chappy and Frazier plus the trades didn’t give us the # 1 pitcher or starting LF as promised by mg’t.

    • Chuck Schick

      Art….could you please provide one piece of evidence that shows mgmt. promising a starting pitcher and left fielder? I will gleefully concede being in error if you are able to cite anything that confirms said promise.

  11. mikemartz

    Not to Hi-jack the thread or anything but how will the re-tooling of the roster effect the new tv contract when it comes time to renew? Or has a new deal been signed already?

  12. ArtWayne

    Chuck, you are right. This was probably a writer from the Enquirer who noted the deficiencies on the starting 13. Sorry to pull a Brian Williams.

  13. Playtowin

    The Reds trades for Frazier and Chapman were the best offer they received for either player. The Reds did not want a high priced player near free agency. They need inexpensive players they can control for 5-6 years. Teams don’t trade their own inexpensive future stars. They keep them.

  14. RedFuture

    I just wonder if there is a little bit of selling Peraza short here. He would definitely play 2nd base if BP were traded. Since that won’t happen, the next option is to pit him in competition with BH in CF where he has played before. Peraza, while not as fast as Billy, is more than fast enough and he can hit and stay within himself. At the very least this CF competition may drive BH to apply himself to bunting and ground-ball hitting. At the very best we could wind up with a new CF who can hit and I’m all for that. Billy would be perfect as a late-inning sub on the base paths (a place he cannot hit himself into with enough regularity) for any of 3 or 4 Reds and then slide the defense around to make room for BH to finish the game in CF.