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Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive
Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
Righthander Kyle Davies rocketed through the Braves system in 2004, dominating at high Class A Myrtle Beach and moving to Triple-A Richmond for the International League playoff push.
Davies is the top pitching prospect in the traditionally pitching-rich organization, and is the player most ready to contribute in the big leagues after the Braves traded away Jose Capellan and Dan Meyer in the offseason. The 21-year-old has exceptional command of an 88-93 mph fastball, the best changeup in the system and a biting curveball. His first two starts were mediocre, but he has hit a groove and is now 2-0, 2.70 with 23 strikeouts in 30 innings.
We caught up with Davies to talk about getting recognized in our Baseball For The Ages feature during his younger days, his competitive nature and his little brother Jake.
On being named the top 14- and 15-year-old in the country by Baseball America when he was in high school in Stockbridge, Ga.: It was pretty cool. I mean it's always great, especially at that age, to see your name in a national publication like Baseball America. But to tell you the truth, I just wanted to get out there and play more. I wasn't the one who walked around bragging that I was the number one 14-year-old player. But I always wanted to beat you . . . I was never too worried about it, but it was always neat to see your name in the paper.
On his dramatic rise last season: Especially the first month at Myrtle Beach, I struggled. We had five guys on that staff and then there was a piggybacker. And those were guys like me, Anthony Lerew, Jose Capellan, Matt Merricks, Blaine Boyer, Matt Wright--all those are great names and all of them were guys in the rotation there. So a healthy dose of 'Hey, look at all these guys--you better do something before you get lost in the shuffle here,' was something that pushed all of us, I think. The healthy competition was something that helped me focus, and all of us wanted to match the last outing or better it each time out. You don't ever want anybody to do bad, but you want to do just as good if not better than everyone else. I always want to win. I don't care if I do bad and the team wins or whatever. I just want to win.
On the toughest hitter he's faced: Jim Thome in spring training. He got me twice. I had two strikes on him both times and everybody was telling me he can hit the fastball down. And of course, where do I throw it? Down and in. Number one, he looked like he was about seven feet tall in the box. And he probably wasn't standing on top of the plate, but it sure looked like he was. Man, that's one thing you have to overcome is just being able to pitch to those guys. I was excited and happy and I know the next time I go up, it won't be like that. I won't be dumbstruck like I was this spring.
On brother Jake, who was one of BA's top 14-year-old players last year and is a hulking, 6-foot-2, 235-pound first baseman at 15: I'm jealous of him. I mean, he's a lot bigger, he can hit for more power, he throws harder than I do and he's lefthanded, so I'm really jealous of the guy. He's got the best attitude you can have. He's into baseball, but he also loves football and basketball. He's just out there having a good time and beating people. I try and learn as much as I can from him. He's got four home runs in high school already. I didn't hit any. I just try not to pitch to him, unless we're playing Wiffle ball in the backyard or something.
• Brad Eldred is officially ridiculous, and now he's taking his show to the International League. The 6-foot-5, 275-pound first baseman hit two more home runs last night for Double-A Altoona in a 4-3 win against Reading and was called up to Indianapolis after the game. After being called up from high Class A Lynchburg at the end of last season, Eldred hit 30 homers in 60 Double-A games, including one in each of his last six games with the Curve. But it wasn't all good news for Pirates fans: Lefthander Paul Maholm left the game after the first inning with a strained left groin muscle and is listed as day-to-day.
• Reds outfielder Chris Denorfia has been on fire over his last eight games at Double-A Chattanooga. Denorfia, a 19th-round pick in 2002, has 13 hits in his last 38 at-bats and is batting .314/.368/.552 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 105 at-bats overall.
• Double-A West Tenn center fielder Felix Pie and first baseman Brandon Sing both went deep in a 4-3 win over Birmingham Monday. Sing lifted the Diamond Jaxx to the victory with a three-run blast in the seventh inning off Barons lefthander Nik Lubisich. Both Pie and Sing have been impressive over their first month in Double-A. Pie is hitting .349/.404/.651 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 86 at-bats, while Sing is hitting .353/.443/.691 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 68 at-bats. But something stands out about Pie to West Tenn manager Bobby Dickerson. "He looks like he's on vacation out there," Dickerson told the Jackson Sun. "Since I've become a manager, he's the first guy I've come across who looks like a big leaguer in Double-A. He's not in awe of anything. He has great skills and no tension at all."
• Class A Frederick center fielder Jeff Fiorentino hit for the cycle, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs, and lefthander Richard Stahl took another step back to his old form as the Keys defeated Winston-Salem 7-2 Monday. Fiorentino, a third-round pick out of Florida International last year, is hitting .350/.395/.600 with three homers and eight RBIs in 80 at-bats. Stahl, whose career has been stalled by groin, back and shoulder problems, finally appears to be back on track. The Orioles' first-rounder in 1999 out of Newton High in Covington, Ga., is now 4-1, 2.37 with 29 strikeouts in 30 innings.
• Padres lefthander Sean Thompson improved to 4-0, 1.32 with seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out eight in high Class A Lake Elsinore's 5-0 win over High Desert. In 27 innings, the 2002 fifth-round pick has recorded 36 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .192 average.
• Twins 2002 first-round pick Denard Span, who was off to an impressive .383-0-4 start for high Class A Fort Myers, landed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
• Dodgers shortstop Chin-Lung Hu went 5-for-6 in high Class A Vero Beach's 11-6 win over Jupiter, raising his season totals to .313-2-9 in 24 games. In his last eight contests, Hu is 17-for-33 (.515).
• Rangers 2003 first-round pick John Danks improved to 2-1, 2.03 with six strong innings in high Class A Bakersfield's 6-2 win over Rancho Cucamonga, and the only players who could touch him were the Angels' red-hot middle-infield combination of second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Brandon Wood. The pair combined to go 4-for-6, each with a homer, while the remainder of the Quakes lineup managed just one hit against the lefty as Bakersfield snapped a six-game losing streak.
• A prospect spending his third year in the Midwest League is usually no more than an organization player. Angels righthander Rafael Rodriguez could be the exception. Just 20, Rodriguez pitched five shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 1.32, in low Class A Cedar Rapids' 4-2 loss to Beloit. Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $780,000 at the age of 16, Rodriguez' fastball has touched 97 mph, but he entered the year with a career record of 14-18, 4.74, mostly attributed to inconsistency with his secondary offerings.
• Going into Saturday's game, Athletics' first baseman Dan Johnson was in a 2-for-25 slump and hitting .210 for Triple-A Sacramento. The 2004 PCL MVP has come out of it with seven hits in his last 13 at-bats and is now hitting .255/.355/.468.
• The hottest player in the PCL might be Josh Willingham. The Albuquerque catcher went 2-for-3 last night with a home run and has now homered in three of his last four games. Willingham tried catcher in instructional league in 2002 due to the presence of Miguel Cabrera and Jason Stokes at the infield corners, and while some scouts doubt his ability to stay behind the plate long-term, his bat is certainly impressive. He is hitting .286/.431/.607 overall.
• Last year's top prospect in the New York-Penn League started off slowly in the Sally League, but Ambiorix Concepcion is showing signs of life. The Mets outfielder went 2-for-4 on Sunday and followed that up with another 2-for-4 night that included his third home run of the season. He also stole his eighth base. He is hitting .195/.245/.333 at low Class A Hagerstown.
• Blake Johnson ranked among the best prep pitchers in the nation entering his senior year of high school in Louisiana, but a triceps injury hurt his velocity. The Dodgers still took him in the second round last year and he posted a 6.47 ERA in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He opened this season at low Class A Columbus and he struggled again to begin the year, but last night he was dominant. The 6-foot-5 righthander tossed seven scoreless innings while fanning five and allowing two hits and a walk. Johnson earned the win over Augusta, moving his record to 1-1, 5.32 with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks in 24 innings.