Over the years, many prodigious power bats have played at the Tournament of Stars, including Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo. None of those big names ever hit two home runs in a game, however.
North Carolina high school product Braxton Davidson, playing for Dixie, did just that on Thursday, becoming just the second player to accomplish the feat in the Tournament of Stars (since 2007 at least, when such records were first kept). Athletics farmhand Chad Lewis was the first in 2009. But in so doing, Davidson put himself alone in TOS folklore.
In the fourth inning of a game against the RBI team, the lefthanded-hitting Davidson stayed back on a changeup and pulled it over the right-field fence. But in the seventh inning, he hit a home run that scouts were still talking about a day later, a mammoth shot into the trees well beyond right field.
“I have been to a lot of TOS over the years, and that is the farthest hit ball I have seen hit here,” one crosschecker said.
Some onlookers even speculated that the ball bounced onto the N.C. 540 freeway beyond right field, which is about 550 feet away.
“I looked at the batters before me, and the pitcher started them off with fastballs and curveballs,” Davidson said. “I was looking for a fastball on the first pitch and I got my pitch. It is a great feeling. I am happy to get out of a slump.”
The slump Davidson referred to was his 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance the day before, when Dixie lost 4-0 to Babe Ruth. Dixie beat RBI 12-0 as Braxton went 3-for-5.
“One of my flaws is that I swing and miss a whole lot,” Davidson said. “But I am working to be a more consistent hitter.”
When Davidson does connect, the ball makes a different sound than that of other players as it explodes off his bat. During batting practice at the Perfect Game National Showcase last week, for example, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Davidson sent two balls into the upper deck of the Metrodome. Davidson said he learned his swing from his father Cecil, who made it to Double-A with the Royals and Brewers and was in attendance at TOS to see his son’s towering shots.
“He has taught me everything I know about the game,” Davidson said. “We spend a lot of time taking batting practice.”
Davidson’s family made the four-hour trip to see him from Asheville, N.C., where Braxton attends nearby Roberson High, the school that produced Cameron Maybin. Davidson is committed to North Carolina.
Although power is Davidson’s carrying tool, he is more athletic than the typical power-first player. At PG National, Davidson threw 92 mph from the outfield and had the best infield velocity of all the first baseman. He has also shown ability as a pitcher, with low-90s velocity off the mound.
Although Davidson has spent the lion’s share of his time at first base, his athleticism could allow him to play an outfield corner. He has quick feet that serve him well around the first base bag and could help him in the outfield. His speed has also improved over the last few seasons and he ran a 7.14-second 60-yard-dash on Friday, which is just slightly below-average.