LOS ANGELES—With the draft looming, I’m on the road this week to observe several high-round candidates. My first stop on Tuesday, April 21, I checked in on Matt Davidson, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound third baseman from Yucaipa (Calif.) High.
Davidson has the kind of blond haired, matinee idol good looks that would fit perfectly in a 1950s Hollywood western. A Southern California signee, Davidson has long been on scouts’ follow lists, primarily for his ability to drive a baseball terrific distances.
Yucaipa traveled to nearby Rialto to take on a hopelessly-overmatched squad from Eisenhower High. Sweltering, 101-degree heat greeted me on my arrival, and I quickly searched for shelter.
Finding shade by the first base dugout I had a perfect view of Davidson from his open side. The rest of the game was unwatchable, and I left in the 4th inning when the carnage had reached 22-1 in favor of Yucaipa.
Feasting on pitching that was only a slight grade above underhand slow pitch, Davidson blasted two long home runs over the center-field fence.
A lot of scout conversation on Davidson centers on what defensive position he will play. He has a strong arm but is not particularly nimble, and his hands and range could stand improvement. Davidson struggled on several plays that required him to charge slowly hit choppers and get off quick throws. It would not be a surprise to see Davidson moved to first base in the future.
To me the argument over Davidson’s defensive home is almost irrelevant; his power bat will always be his primary attraction. My guess is that in most scout’s notebooks, Davidson receives high marks for raw power; his grades on power frequency may not be as lofty.
Davidson has always run hot and cold. In several showcase and scout ball events, he has struggled against quality pitching. However, in the Aflac game he sharply pulled a 93 mph fastball for a double. Earlier, he won the wood bat home run contest with several monsters that clattered around the left field bleachers at Dodger Stadium.
Scuttlebutt has Davidson, if signable, landing somewhere in the supplemental first round through the second or possibly into the early third. The club that chooses him will be convinced that Davidson possesses the ability to consistently hit quality pitching and not just feast on mistakes or substandard hurlers.
As I left the scene of the wreckage Tuesday, I found Davidson lying on his stomach in the dugout, splayed out like a surfer paddling out to meet a wave. An ice bag was placed on the spot on his lower back where Davidson had been plunked in the first inning by an errant pitch.
He gave me a friendly wave and I asked, “You OK?”
“I’m fine!” Davidson responded with a smile.
With his type of raw power, Davidson has a lot to smile about.