DUNEDIN, FL– DJ Davis has always gone one speed – fast.
However, to get to where he wants to be, he’s focusing on slowing down.
Dylan Jaleel Davis is currently the Toronto Blue Jays fourth-ranked prospect, and the highest non-pitching prospect. He was the team’s first pick (17th overall) in the 2012 amateur draft, mainly for his fielding, speed and base running. But it’s his approach at the plate where he’ll have to learn patience.
“This year I’m just working on sitting back and working on the ball.” Davis said with a shy smile outside the Bobby Mattick Training Center on the first day of team workouts. “My game plan at the plate is just be patient, and everywhere else be over aggressive”
He was drafted out of Stone County High School in Wiggins, Miss., as a left fielder. Standing at 6’1’, 180 pounds, Davis is compared to Cleveland Indians speedy outfielder Michael Bourn, according to MLB.com. He has also been touted as the fastest player in the Blue Jays organization.
“Obviously DJ has well above average speed, I mean, game-changing speed and that’s something we want to focus on,” said Charlie Wilson, Director of Blue Jays Minor League Operations.
“When this guy’s on base, he has to be a base stealer, and we have to focus on him having success on the base paths.”
Davis admittedly has high aspirations. He expects to be playing for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season, and is gunning for the major leagues in a year from now.
The latter goal is lofty, but Wilson appreciates Davis’ expectations.
“I think it’s great anytime you draft a player and you bring him into the organization you’re looking for somebody that’s got aspirations and desire to play in the major leagues, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Wilson. “We want guys that want to be in the big leagues and ASAP.”
Davis’s father, Wayne, is a former minor leaguer for the Jays, but luckily for the younger Davis, there are no debates over who the better player is.
“He says that I’m better than him, but I’ve never seen him play” DJ Davis jokes.
But Wilson doesn’t need to rely on the family tree to understand the strengths of the younger Davis.
“We drafted DJ on his ability and our projection of him for the future. I think it’s always good when you got the bloodlines, and you got fathers and mothers who were athletic, that can only help. But we draft a player based on his ability and future potential.” he said.
Davis shrugs at the idea pressure that goes with being a high draft pick, a sentiment shared by Wilson.
“We project him to be a major-league hitter [and] an above average hitter. He does have power. I think he has a chance to have an average major-league arm and his fielding is right there as well,” he said.
“From our standpoint there’s no pressure at all, we want to make sure he learns it the Blue Jay way, and I think his ability and his work ethic will take care of the rest.”