by editor Rick Cabral

Davis Surprised by Astros Selection in 3rd Round 2014 Draft
Fullerton State Experience "Paid Off"


J.D. Davis
Courtesy Fullerton State Baseball.

J.D. Davis had been waiting for this moment all of his athletic life. The Cal State Fullerton slugger admits he “lost a little sleep last night,” but awoke to a wonderful surprise this morning: he was the first player selected on Day Two of the MLB First-Year Player Draft when Houston took him with the 75th overall pick.

The Davis family “looked at the screen, saw a picture of me and I went ‘Oh, geez. Wow!’ It was a good moment.”  

Surprisingly, the Astros were not among the teams corresponding with Davis’ advisor Matt Hannaford (like the Cubs, White Sox and Orioles). “They took us off guard when they announced my name, because we weren’t expecting Houston at all.” 

The Astros selected Davis as a third baseman. Although he mostly played right field (and was the team’s closer), he has played the hot corner in the Cape Code League, the Northwoods League and at Elk Grove High. Plus, he worked out there during practice alongside his Titans teammate, the Athletics No.1 pick Matt Chapman. “They liked what they saw and said I was a third baseman.” 

Davis is excited about joining the Astros talented young farm system which includes a number of players from northern California like Jake Rodriguez (Elk Grove 2010/Oregon State) and Max Stassi (Yuba City High 2009). “It’s kind of a NorCal All-Star reunion, a little bit.” Between the three they own the Sacramento Bee’s High School Player of the Year trophies from 2008-2011. 

The assigned bonus slot for the 75th pick in the draft this year is nearly $750,000.

As the high school POY in 2011, Davis was drafted in the fifth round by Tampa Bay. After lengthy negotiations with the Rays, Davis decided to forego a professional career to play for his dream school Cal State Fullerton. 

Each summer, Davis excelled in the collegiate wood bat circuit, first in the Northwoods League in 2012 and last year at the Cape League, where he was named the 2013 Cape League All-Star Game Most Valuable Player for the Eastern Division after going 2-for-2 with a three-run homer to lead his squad to a 9-3 victory over the West. 

“I knew the hard work and going to (Fullerton State) would pay off for me. It would help me in the long run. I made the right decision.” 

Davis credits the college experience with helping him to mature. “Although I had (guidance) from my coaches and parents, I still had to be more mature, pay my bills and balance playing at an elite level while working on my degree.” 

J.D. Davis celebrates his grand slam that helped the Titans beat Nebraska 5-1 in the
2014 Stillwater Regionals. Courtesy of Fullerton State Baseball.

For the Titans this season
Davis hit a team-leading .338 average and .523 slugging percentage with 16 doubles, five triples, six home runs and 43 RBI. He finished on a tear with a 16-game hitting streak. His sixth homer was a grand slam that propelled the Titans to a regional playoff win over Nebraska last week.

His only regret was not playing in the College World Series. The 2013 Titans team seemed destined to go to the CWS, hosting UCLA in the Super Regionals. But the Bruins played their brand of small ball and punched their ticket to Omaha at the expense of the Titans. “Last year’s team was a pretty special group of guys. That’s as close to a family that I’ve ever played with,” Davis says in retrospect. “The talent on that team was probably the best team I ever played with. It was heartbreaking to be so close and lose in the Super Regionals. No matter how hard it is to swallow, we can say we lost to the National Champions.” 

In his three seasons at Cal State Fullerton, Davis played in 159 games, batted .308 with 175 hits. He scored 87 runs and collected 33 doubles, six triples and 14 home runs to go along with 113 RBI.

On the hill, Davis went 5-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 35 appearances, making eight starts. He had 11 career saves and struck out 48 batters in 66 and 1/3 innings pitched while issuing just 14 walks.

Elk Grove HIgh coach Jeff Carlson was pleased to have two of his boys drafted in the third and first rounds (Derek Hill).

Surprinsingly, because Derek transferred to Elk Grove as a sophomore, he and Davis have never met. “I'm real happy to see the Elk Grove name get another guy (high in the draft). I'm very excited for him and I know he will do great things.”

Carlson notes the personal makeup in both athletes sets them apart. .“On and off the field says it the most. Their makeup is off the charts. Two great kids. Very special. We’ve had a lot of great ones over the years, and they’re right up there with the best. They’re both phenomenal kids off the field.”

Uploaded 6/6/14
Updated 6/7/14
All contents © Rick Cabral 2014
(Except where others hold the copyright)