SF Giants top prospects: No. 23 — OF Jaylin Davis
Highest Level: MLB (SF)
Acquired: Trade (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 40+
When the Giants traded Sam Dyson to the Minnesota Twins in a flurry of 2019 MLB trade deadline action, some were underwhelmed by the return. The Twins sent back three pieces with decent prospect pedigree, but none that stood out. Part of the return was outfielder Jaylin Davis.
Davis has always been a good athlete with potential plus power, but questions about his hit tool kept him off the top prospect radar. In 2019, a swing-chance sparked a strong start at Double-A that took off once he was promoted to Triple-A and got to hit the then juiced MLB ball.
Over 126 games in the minors in 2019, Davis slugged 36 home runs and posted a .306/.397/.590 line. He hammered 10 home runs in 27 games following the trade to the Giants before he was finally promoted to the big-league roster. While his season was cut short after getting hit on the hand, Davis recorded a sprint speed in the 97th percentile of all players, according to Baseball Savant.
Davis is an above-average defender at all three outfield spots with plus range and an average arm. He has called centerfield his best defensive position, but the Giants have deployed him primarily in right. Still, I believe he’s well acclimated to center.
At the plate, Davis consistently hits the ball hard, has a pretty solid approach, and has controlled his strikeouts in recent years. His problem is where the ball goes when he makes contact. Historically, that’s been on the ground. There’s nothing wrong with a hard-hit ground ball, but when you have 60-grade power like Davis, how consistently he lifts the ball will ultimately determine where he ends up.
Davis still has tremendous upside for a 26-year old who’s yet to really show much against MLB pitching. His speed and defensive ability give him a pretty good floor as a 4th or 5th outfielder. He’s shown decent reverse splits, which actually should benefit him if he can’t play every day (since there are more right-handed pitchers than lefties around the league).
The Giants had Davis with the team early last season but then quickly optioned him and went to lower potential options like Steven Duggar and Luis Alexander Basabe. Davis has struggled to put the ball in play against MLB pitching but also hit the ball hard (Davis has a career 90.2 mph average exit-velocity). It remains to be seen whether Davis will ever put it all together or if he’ll be the next in a long line of recent AAAA Giants outfielders. Given his defensive versatility, though, I’d bet on him having an extended big-league career.