Going into spring training, the Giants had a glut of outfielders looking for at-bats this season.
Mike Yastrzemski established himself as an everyday outfielder last year. Alex Dickerson crushed right-handed pitching when healthy, and the Giants brought back Hunter Pence to hit against lefties. Austin Slater is hoping for more of an opportunity, San Francisco signed speedster Billy Hamilton and Mauricio Dubon was getting time in center field as well.
Gabe Kapler wants to make sure you don't forget about one player, though. The Giants manager is a big believer in Jaylin Davis.
"I think we're all excited about the engine that Jaylin Davis owns," Kapler said Tuesday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show. "He's got tremendous bat speed, he's got the ability to get the ball in the air. If he can make enough contact, he's gonna knock the ball out of the ballpark to all parts of the field. At times in camp, he did that both in live batting practice sessions and in games."
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But that's the problem with Davis. He struck out 11 times in 17 games after making his MLB debut with the Giants last season. And then, he had another 15 strikeouts in only 11 games this spring.
There's no doubt Davis, 25, has immense potential. Kapler knows his slugger's faults but believes in the talent more than anything.
"There was some swing-and-miss in his game," Kapler said. "I think if he was sitting next to me right now, I'd say 'One of the things you need to improve on Jaylin is putting the ball in play more frequently and not swinging and missing as much at fastballs in the zone.'
"If he's able to make that adjustment, and I believe he has that capability, he has a chance to have a really nice career in a San Francisco Giants uniform."
The Giants acquired Davis on July 31 last season in a trade that sent reliever Sam Dyson to the Minnesota Twins. At the time, Davis was hitting .298 with 25 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. Giants fans became incredibly intrigued with Davis and his power, and he only added to that when he joined the Sacramento River Cats.
Davis hit .333 with 10 more homers and a 1.105 OPS in 27 games with the River Cats.
The powerful outfielder didn't hit his first big league homer until his 13th game with the Giants. However, it was worth the wait. Davis' first blast in the bigs was a walk-off to beat the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park.
Jaylin Davis called game: pic.twitter.com/IZ2I98RwbZ— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 26, 2019
That's what makes Kapler and the rest of the coaching staff so excited about Davis. If he cuts down on his strikeouts, he can be a game-changer. Davis has power at the plate, speed on the bases and a rocket arm in the outfield.
As fans continue to wait and see if there will be a baseball season this year, the Giants can't wait to see Davis unleash his potential in San Francisco.