Yankees News: Rookie Davis shines in Tampa Yankees debut; Bailey unimpressive


New York Yankees prospect Rookie Davis is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, who spent 2014 with the Class-A Charleston RiverDogs.  Entering 2015 with the High-A Tampa Yankees, Davis, the Yankees 14th-round pick in 2011, was supposed to start the opening game Thursday night, but nonetheless was thrilled for his opportunity:

"I’m really excited about it.  I was actually scheduled to go Opening Day this year, but we wanted the starters to get an extra day’s rest.  I’m not complaining about that, but I’m excited."

Davis had a sub-par year in 2014, finishing 7-8 with a 4.93 ERA.  He did strike out 7.6 batters over nine innings pitched, but also walked three, and allowed 9.6 hits over the same nine innings.

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Davis wasn’t sure where he’d end up entering Spring Training, but now his goal is to prove he belongs:

"To me, it’s another stepping stone.  Obviously, I don’t want to end my career in High-A.  I don’t want to end my career in AA or AAA.  Honestly, last year I had really, really high expectations, and I still do."

Davis spent the off-season slimming his weight and body fat.  He is attempting to improve both on the field, and in the clubhouse:

"I’m an aggressive player almost to a fault at points, but that’s something I’ve worked hard on all off-season and continue to work on with our mental conditioning guy down here.  I’m trying to be a teammate that everyone will respect and a guy around the clubhouse that’s a leader.  That’s something I’ve been really trying to work hard on in Spring Training, trying to show guys that I’ve changed- and prove it to myself.  It comes down to trying to be the same guy everyday, whether you go nine no-hit innings or you can’t get out of the first."

Davis’ fastball sits in the high-90’s, and he feels he has improved it:

"I’m able to pitch off that, with two strikes trying to bury guys.  That was something I wasn’t able to do last year, to get swings and misses when I needed them.  We put a lot of work into that (and into) pitch sequencing, how to set guys up, how to pitch to three, four, and five hitters vs. seven, eight, nine guys.  You want the same intensity, but you’ve got to pitch them a little bit different.  The front office really kind of wanted me to get that power pitcher’s mentality back, so I’ve adopted it."

While Davis’ confidence and work ethic are both strong, how did he perform in his season debut?  He went six strong innings, allowing only one run, on three hits.  Davis walked none, and struck out five.  His stellar pitching performance led to a no decision as the bullpen could not hold the lead.

All three hits against Davis came in the first four batters of the game, and he quickly settled down, retiring the last 17 batters he faced, including striking out the side in the fourth.

Andrew Bailey was called on to replace Davis in the seventh, and after a strong inning which saw him allow no hits with a walk and a strikeout, he could not record an out in the eighth.  Bailey allowed the first two batters he faced to single, and both runs later scored, ballooning his ERA to 18.00.

Bailey figures to make it back to MLB at some point, so this is a matter of getting healthy and strong once again, not an audition.  Still, the outing was not very encouraging.

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