Allen Davis was signed by the Phillies after last season and at 29 years of age, probably isn’t on the Phillies prospect radar, but he has certainly made the case for himself. He spent last season in an independent league and admittedly just wanted to survive the rigors of Double-A this year.
“My goal this season was just to survive. I haven’t pitched well all year, but I got better as the year went on. In independent ball, the 4 or 5 hitters can hurt you but then it’s [with no disrespect to independent players intended] a lot of guys who probably shouldn’t be playing. At this level, there really aren’t any breaks for pitchers. Everybody in the lineup can beat you,” said Davis.
Davis’ expectations of the jump to Double-A sound like those of a pitcher who is making the jump to Double-A for the first time. Davis though has been here before as a member of the Harrisburg Senators in 2001 and 2002. His trepidation probably wasn’t based on fear though, rather a doubting of his stuff. He did compile a 7.14 ERA during his last stint at this level in 2002.
That did not carry over to this trip in the Eastern League as he has compiled a 10-6 record and a 3.58 ERA. His impressive performances earned him a call-up to Scranton/WilkesBarre where he was equally impressive in his three outings. He compiled a 1-1 record with a 2.03 ERA in three outings with the Red Barons, in addition to his impressive Double-A resume. A resume that includes 138 and one third innings pitched to put him third in the Eastern League with five starts left.
Davis’ problem is similar to that of all minor leaguers in that he needed to improve his mechanics and become comfortable with a delivery that could be mass produced over and over throughout the course of a game. Davis feels he has improved and sees this as one of the factors contributing to his success this year.
“My biggest thing is trying to duplicate my mechanics and be consistent doing it. I also need to get ahead with my pitches because when I’m ahead it’s to the pitcher’s advantage,” said the left-hander.
Davis also says that he knows he needed to develop a breaking ball to be effective at the upper minor leagues and hopefully make it to the Majors. He has really tried to focus on this aspect of his game and has developed a slider that he uses as an intermediate pitch between his fastball and his change-up. The 29-year old pitcher says his confidence in the new pitch has grown as the year has gone along but that his change-up is still his out pitch.
“I knew I needed a breaking ball so I developed a slider. My change is still the pitch I go to, but the slider helps to help keep the hitter a little off-stride when it comes to my fastball.” said Davis.
Despite his minimal ERA at Triple-A and his effectiveness with the R-Phils, Davis is cautious when it comes to whether or not he deserves a promotion. The effective starter’s prospects got a little bit brighter earlier this week when it was announced that Cole Hamels will be shut down for the final month of the minor league season. Before Hamels’ injury was disclosed, Davis thought he had at least put himself in the Phillies minds as a pitching option.
“Deserve is a hard word to say because a lot of guys on this team deserve a promotion. I think I’ve put myself in a good situation for the Phils to do something if they want, but I have no control over if I get moved or not and I just have to go out and pitch.” said Davis.
Davis has certainly proven that he is worthy of at least an extended look at Triple-A as this season winds down and at the start of next season. If he can maintain his work ethic and approach as well as his results, he could prove to be the next in a long list of pitchers who have tried to keep the Phillies always fragile rotation in tune as injuries and adversity bear down. Davis is a player worth keeping an eye on if you’re a Phillies fan, but don’t expect him to be an All-Star in Philadelphia anytime soon. He could however, be a cog that helps the Phillies machine stay respectable in 2006.