Image credit: Logan Davidson (Photo by Tom Priddy)
Logan Davidson learned from past Clemson stars, including his big league father, how to handle draft-year expectations.
When Logan Davidson runs on to the field at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, he knows eyes are watching him; they’ve been watching him since he prepped at Providence High in Charlotte, and they will continue to come to watch and evaluate. Not only because of the Clemson junior’s athletic 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame, but because he is one of the top shortstop prospects in this year’s draft.
With former All-American teammate Seth Beer moving on this year to pro ball, Davidson now faces the burden of being more in the forefront for the Tigers.
Pressure—that’s what comes with being in the spotlight. And, add to the fact that he is following in the footsteps of his father Mark, a six-year big leaguer who was drafted out of Clemson in 1982. His father’s accolades are all ones that Logan would like to check off as well. But pressure, or high expectations, may have caused a little slower start than Davidson expected. Or scouts wanted to see.
“I know I can trust my teammates to get it done even if my bat’s not hot,” Davidson said. “There are many ways I can impact the game and I can still help our team, defensively, stolen bags and being a good leader for our team.”
Davidson has been through this before, so he knows how to handle situations like he is in now. As a high school senior he was touted and ranked No. 131 on the BA 500. He had a strong commitment to Clemson, however, and he didn’t sign after being drafted in the 30th round by the Phillies.
Now a junior, Davidson is going through the draft process again this spring. He said he has leaned on his father for advice.
“He has helped me a ton,” Davidson said. “The biggest aspect he has helped with me is the day-to-day working on my swing when we get our one-on-one time.”
As a former coach of first-round picks such as Todd Helton, Christian Colon, Gary Brown and Nick Senzel, I’ve seen how each player handles his draft year differently. Some can tune it out and some can make an 0-for-4 day worse than it really is.
When I asked Davidson what he learned from seeing Beer go through the same situation last year when he got off to a slow start, he said, “I definitely would say I learned how he handled it all and how much of a hard worker he was. I also saw how he made changes throughout the year when teams pitched him differently.
“I saw how Seth blocked out all the outside chatter and kept the focus on the team.”
When I watched Davidson in the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry series, I was impressed by his many skills. He has great size and athleticism with good range side to side, above-average arm strength, above-average speed, with what looked to be good instincts on the bases and some power from both sides of the plate. Those are all tools that scouts are looking for. Add to the fact that his makeup and character seems to be excellent. As the case with most players who want to reach the top, they never stop working on their craft.
“I continue to work on my footwork on the infield since I’m a little taller than most shortstops,” he said. He added that he also continues to work on his approach offensively and make changes where needed.
Yet, after watching Davidson’s performance, I got the sense there was still some questions about him from others. Last summer in the Cape Cod League, Davidson hit .196/.292/.266 with three home runs in 42 games, and those were numbers that many weren’t accustomed to seeing from the talented shortstop. Offensive numbers that could raise the question of how well his bat will translate to the next level.
When asked about his Cape performance, Davidson said, “I attribute it to the adjustment and change of the routine and maybe the lack of resources that you get used to when you play at a place like Clemson. You don’t always have the accessibility to cages to get your work in.”
Beyond that, Davidson was also keeping up a course load each summer, completing nine credit hours each of the last two summers to allow him to graduate in May, a year early.
In the first 12 games of this season, Davidson hit .250/.407/.625 with four home runs and seven stolen bases as Clemson headed into Atlantic Coast Conference play. He then settled down, and raised his slash line to .343/.465/.701 with five multi-hit games in a week and a half stretch.
“One hundred percent I feel like I’m being pitched to differently,” Davidson said. “I can definitely see that teams are pitching me differently and I continue to work on my approach to adjust to seeing more offspeed pitches and not missing the fastball when I get them.”
With my many years of experience as a coach, I was impressed by the talented shortstop. I was even more impressed after speaking with him and how his focus was on his team, his work ethic and a noticeable commitment to his family. Davidson realizes what his leadership and success can mean to his team. He also is mature enough and selfless enough to know that there are many other ways his skills can help his team be successful.
As Davidson finds his groove, Clemson is only going to get better.