Simply mention the name Jonathan Davis to John Schneider and the Blue Jays coach’s face lights up.
“My favorite,” he said. “He’s awesome.”
Schneider has managed the 26-year-old outfielder at two levels of the minor leagues, including at Double-A New Hampshire last year, and both reconnected with the Blue Jays last September when Davis broke through in his sixth year of pro ball.
The callup was well-earned by a player who has made fans of his teammates and player development staff at each step up the ladder.
“He’s an awesome teammate, he’s a likable guy, and that really translates over to him on the field,” Schneider said. “He’s selfless, he competes—he’s just the same guy every day no matter what. Everyone gravitates to him just because of the way he goes about his business every day.”
That’s among the reasons Davis, a 15th-round pick in 2013 out of Central Arkansas, survived the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster crunch this past offseason. Though lacking prospect buzz, he could find himself playing a role for the Blue Jays in 2019.
Some things would certainly need to break his way for him to move up the depth chart, but after batting .289/.359/.422 with 26 stolen bases in 30 tries over 124 games with New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo with plus defense, he’s got tools that should play in the majors.
“Coming up through the minor leagues, I kind of learned that I’m a guy that needs to get on base, and I’m learning that more and more as I play,” Davis said in scouting himself. “I have gap-to-gap power, but I don’t need to force it. That’s just a byproduct of who I am as a player. So, have good at-bats, compete, play great defense and do what I can to help the team win, man.”
Davis is likely to start the season back at Buffalo, where he’ll reap the benefits of his 20-game stint in the big leagues.
“Getting that experience allows me to come into this year and be confident about myself and, in a sense, want to contribute to the big league team, change the culture and win, ultimately,” Davis said. “I’m excited.”
— New manager Charlie Montoyo made playing time for out-of-options outfielder Dalton Pompey a priority early in camp. “He’s got all those tools and I’m pulling for the kid,” he said.
— T.J. Zeuch, the righthander picked 21st overall in 2016, suffered a lat strain just as camp started and will miss the entire spring recovering.