Jaylin Davis was one of the more exciting SF Giants prospects in the upper minor leagues in 2019, but never received an extended opportunity this season. Could he be an x-factor next year?
The SF Giants were hoping that Jaylin Davis could emerge as an everyday presence in the shortened 2020 season. After a short stint in the majors at the beginning of the season, he seemed to disappear for the rest of the season. Davis ended up spending the remainder of the season in Sacramento at the alternate site. Now the question is can he contribute to the team in the majors in 2021?
With the outfield picture fairly up in the air going into this season, many believed that Davis was prepared to claim a starting spot with his strong defense and powerful bat. While he did have one impressive opposite-field home run against the Dodgers, he struggled otherwise with only 2 hits in 12 at-bats before he was demoted. Of course, it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from such a small sample.
Despite the number of injuries that the Giants had in the outfield, they continually passed over Davis in favor of players like Steven Duggar and Luis Alexander Basabe. It is not altogether clear why the Giants only gave Davis a chance in four games last year. One would have thought that with his power and athletic ability he would have factored more into the team’s plans.
The Giants explained Davis being in Sacramento for most of 2020 by saying that he needed to improve on making contact, a fair point considering that Davis struck out in six of his twelve at-bats last season. Still, Duggar struck out in 11 of his 36 plate appearances without any of the power that Davis has shown.
However, at this point, Alex Dickerson, Mauricio Dubón, Austin Slater, and Mike Yastrzemski all seem likely to dominate the outfield action next season. Of course, Slater and Dickerson have had a number of injuries over their careers.
The question still remains as to how much Davis can contribute to the team in 2021. All it would take is one hot Spring Training for Davis to make the big league roster, and if one of the team’s starting outfielders went down to injury Davis would definitely be an option to fill their place. A very good defensive outfielder, Davis has played elite defense in right field but has said he is most comfortable in center. That versatility could be a key part of him finding a fit on the roster.
While he may have fallen off many fans’ radar, Davis is just a season removed from hitting 35 home runs and posting a .306/.397/.590 triple-slash primarily at Triple-A. He has struggled with strikeouts at times and could benefit from more consistently elevating the ball, but he still has the potential to be better than any of the team’s current outfielders, including Yastrzemski.
Ultimately, Jaylin Davis will face some stiff competition to make a roster that already has solid options for the outfield. However, at age 26, the SF Giants are unlikely to give up on Davis just yet. If he starts making more contact with the ball and proves he can provide pop to the lineup then Davis could still be a big contributor in 2021.