The first base position stands to be a hot topic this winter with regard to the New York Mets. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda haven’t proved they can be in a big league lineup on a daily basis. Josh Satin emerged as a potential platoon solution with the hot streak he enjoyed upon his promotion. Coming up through the minor league system, Davis was viewed as possibly being the future at the position in Flushing. After two up-and-down years, that’s up for debate. In today’s prospect time machine, we’ll take a look at Ike’s journey through the minors, all the way to Citi Field.
Ike’s father, Ron Davis, played major league baseball for 11 years as a relief pitcher, earning an All-Star selection in 1981. So, he had some good bloodlines to draw from as he grew up in Arizona. As a high school ballplayer, Davis was dominant — he hit .447 and went 23-0 with a 1.85 ERA and 14 saves during his career at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. This just so happened to be the same high school Paul Konerko attended, and Davis broke a few of his records while helping his team win three straight state titles. Davis owns the single-season school record for batting average (.559) and doubles (23), breaking both of Konerko’s records (.558 and 18, respectively).
Davis was selected in the 19th round of the 2005 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but decided to attend Arizona State University, mixing time on the mound and at the plate, excelling at both. He eventually became the closer for ASU, while also finding himself in the top-ten in school history for multiple offensive categories. His line included a .353 batting average, .605 slugging percentage, and 33 home runs. He was named to the ASU All-Decade team, and enjoyed two Pac-10 Championships as a member of the squad.
His stellar college career found him getting selected with the 18th overall pick of the 2008 MLB draft by the New York Mets. This selection was a compensation pick New York received for losing Tom Glavine to the Atlanta Braves via free agency. Baseball America considered him the third best college bat in the draft, and the left-handed hitter reported to the Brooklyn Cyclones in the NYPL after signing for $1.575 million.
In 58 games played and 239 plate appearances for the ‘Clones, Davis hit .256/.326/.326 with no home runs, 17 RBIs, and 15 doubles. While playing at MCU Park isn’t the best environment for hitters, it was a little surprising to see that Ike didn’t connect for one homer during his time there. He did say it was the first time he ever hit with a wooden bat full-time, and there was an adjustment period.
He split the 2009 season between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, finding his power stroke to put him on the fast track to the majors. He hit a combined .298/.381/.524 with 20 home runs, 71 RBIs, and 31 doubles in 488 plate appearances.
That performance put him in the top-100 for Baseball America, naming him the 62nd-best prospect in the game prior to the start of 2010. He hit .364/.500/.636 in 10 games with Triple-A Buffalo before the Mets decided to call him up to make his big league debut on April 19th, 2010. He would play 147 games in the big leagues, coming in seventh in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs in 601 plate appearances.
Davis was primed to make an impact with New York in 2011, and hit the ground running by driving in a run in nine of his first 10 games — a Mets record. He was hitting .302/.383/.543 before he rolled his ankle colliding with David Wright on a pop up on May 10th. It didn’t seem serious at the time, but it cost Ike the rest of his season.
From there, you know the rest of the story. Inconsistency, injuries, valley fever, way too many strikeouts — it’s been a tough couple years for Ike since he went down with that ankle injury. Who knows if that still has a profound effect on his psyche, but it was the first domino to fall in a series of frustrating times for him. It’s culminated with a .205/.326/.334 line this past season, including nine home runs, 33 RBIs, and a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas in the process.
After making a shade over $3 million in 2013 in his first arbitration-eligible season, the Mets will have an interesting decision to make this winter. Reports say they’ll likely tender him a contract, but it remains to be seen what the terms will end up being, and if the two sides will be able to agree on an amount without heading to arbitration.