**Mets prospect Ike Davis was a first round pick out of Arizona State last year, and was one of my favorite hitters in the draft. He was very disappointing in the New York-Penn League, hitting just .256/.326/.326 last summer, without hitting a home run. In my book this year, I projected/predicted that Davis would begin 2009 in the Sally League and hit .312/.417/.528 through June. He would then get promoted to the Florida State League in the second half, but would lose the power stroke again and hit .261/.321/.378, leaving everyone to wonder about his bat again.
Well the Mets skipped the Sally League part and sent him directly to St. Lucie this spring, where he is hitting .271/.328/.390 through 15 games, without a home run, which is very similar to what I thought he'd do at this level.
It is too early to conclude that Davis is a busted pick, but he now has 73 games of pro experience without hitting a home run. The knock on him as a college sophomore was lack of power, but he supposedly answered these questions by hitting 16 homers in his draft year. Was that just an illusion due to the metal bat? Perhaps. There are reports that Davis puts a lot of pressure on himself and plays "too tight," which is part of the reason why I thought they would start him in the Sally League, to help boost his confidence. I don't know what's going to happen here any more than anyone else does, but Davis does have a good arm and would be a prospect as a pitcher too, if the power doesn't come around.
**Zack Greinke. . .what can you say? I've been watching him pitch since he was in A-ball, and this year he has put everything together. He's got the mid-90s heater working. He's mixing in his slider very well. He's using his improved changeup. He's even using the 65 MPH curveball again, a pitch he had largely abandoned last year. His command is outstanding, and he appears fully confident in himself. He'll have a bad start eventually but right now he is a pure joy to watch. If the Royals give him enough run support (always an open question), he has to be the early favorite for Cy Young. Credit where credit is do: to Greinke himself for overcoming his social anxiety problems, and to the front office and management of the Royals system, both the current regime and the past one, who took an enlightened approach and gave him the support he needed back in 2006.
**One prospect I follow closely is Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson, since he went to my high school (Hoover) in Des Moines. He's off to a fast start for Double-A Montgomery, with a 1.64 ERA and a 24/7 K/BB in 22 innings, with just 13 hits allowed. About the only flaw in the numbers is a 0.46 GO/AO mark. He's allowed just one homer, but a fly ball rate that high does make me worried about his gopher ball potential at higher levels. Nevertheless, he now has 17 starts of Double-A under his belt combined with last year, with a 103/22 K/BB in 97 innings and 97 hits allowed, with a 3.43 ERA. It would be logical for Hellickson to move up to Triple-A once David Price gets promoted to the majors. This would position the right-hander for a September trial, but he's a better candidate for '10.
**Jason Castro, Houston Catcher of the Future, is off to a .273/.310/.424 start in 18 games for Class A Lancaster. That's not great for the context, and I don't like the 4/14 BB/K ratio in 66 at-bats, but it is still too early to draw any broad conclusions. I do note he's hitting .342/.366/.474 at home, but just .179/.233/.357 on the road. Again. . .too early to know if it matters, but this split is definitely worth keeping an eye on given the questions that already exist about his bat.
**Can Phillies outfield prospect Michael Taylor confirm and solidify his 2008 breakout season? He's hitting .286/.345/.469 in 14 games thus far for Double-A Reading, with two homers, five walks, eight strikeouts, and four steals in four attempts (49 at-bats). Small sample, etc., but this is good to see, especially the BB/K ratio which is improved over last year's 19/46 BB/K in the Florida State League. He's always had excellent tools, but needs to prove his progress against advanced competition this year. So far, so good.
**Off-Topic. Lotsa buzz going around about the new Trek movie, which is getting excellent reviews. Chris Pine (the new Kirk) has big shoes to fill. Here's some classic Shat.
I'm also interested to see what Bruce Greenwood does with the character of Captain Christopher Pike, if he can build on what Jeffrey Hunter did in the first pilot.