Baltimore Orioles number-four prospect Zach Davies got the call yesterday for his first Grapefruit League start with the big club. Davies took the hill against the Tampa Bay Rays, and lasted 3.1 innings before being relieved in the bottom of the fourth with two runners on base. Davies struck out four and walked two while allowing five hits. His most glaring mistake was allowing a solo home run to Evan Longoria to open the fourth.
This was Davies’ second appearance with the Orioles this spring, but the nerves were present nonetheless. “I enjoyed it,” Davies said. “There was a little bit of nerves at first, kind of what to expect, but made sure that I didn’t get too nervous out there and made sure it didn’t affect me while I was on the mound.”
The Orioles are closing out Spring Training by taking an extra look at some of their top minor league arms. Tyler Wilson is another name to watch that was given a chance to start last Saturday against the Yankees. Davies does not cut an imposing figure on the mound. He is listed as a generous 6’0″ and 150 pounds, but in his first three professional seasons, the former 26th-round pick has found a way to get results.
Davies spent the entire 2014 season with the Double-A Bowie Bay Sox and went 10-7 with a 3.35 ERA. He struck out 109 batters in 110.0 innings and walked only 32. Davies is a finesse pitcher who must move his fastball around the strike zone. He also shows an ability to sink the ball. He has good command of his curveball and changeup, and his changeup is one of the best in the minor leagues. Davies march to the big leagues should take the next logical step this year, with a full season at Triple-A Norfolk.
Davies has the potential to contribute to the Orioles rotation as a back-end starter should the Orioles fail to resign Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen this offseason. Davies may also be the first arm called upon should the Orioles need a spot starter or injury replacement. However, with the likes of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Hunter Harvey ahead of him in the pecking order, the Orioles may be able to generate more value out of Davies as a trading chip. Regardless, Davies acquitted himself well in his start yesterday, and the Orioles should pat themselves on the back for unearthing this potential diamond in the rough in the 26th round of the 2011 Draft.