19. Noah Davis (194 points, 17 ballots)
Noah Davis, along with Case Williams, was acquired near the 2021 trade deadline from the Reds in exchange for reliever Mychal Givens. The 6’2” right-hander was drafted in the 11th round in 2018 despite having had Tommy John surgery during an abbreviated junior season at UC Santa Barbara. After some action in rookie ball in 2019 on his way back to recovery, Davis had only instructs work in 2020 amid the pandemic shutdown.
In 2021, the Reds promoted Davis directly to High-A Dayton to begin the season. In 13 starts with Dayton, he threw 65 innings of 3.60 ERA (5.01 xFIP) ball with a 1.21 WHIP, 10.7 K/9 rate, and 4.8 BB/9 rate against hitters who were on average about 0.7 years younger. After the July trade to Colorado, Davis got very similar outcomes but used a different process to get there. Namely, he posted the same 3.60 ERA (4.79 xFIP) with Spokane in 35 innings across six starts, but his K/9 dropped to 7.5, the BB/9 lowered to 2.1 and the WHIP to 1.14.
In all, Davis threw 100 innings at the High-A level with the aforementioned 3.60 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate as a player a little old for the level. The Rockies liked what they saw from the 24-year-old (he’ll turn 25 next month) enough to add him to the 40-man roster back in November ahead of several other PuRPs, adding credence to his prospect status.
The most recent video I could find on Davis is from way back in 2016 while he was in college (via the Prospect Pipeline), so take this with a grain of salt:
Fangraphs ranked Davis 21st in their January system ranking with a 40 FV tag, highlighted by 50 grades on the slider and curve:
Davis was sitting 91-94 mph in his first few appearances [after returning from TJ surgery] before touching some 95s later in the summer. More importantly, he returned with two quality breaking balls (he was a slider/changeup guy as an amateur) that have fairly significant projection since one of them is new, and Davis missed a huge chunk of time rehabbing from the TJ. He held that velo into 2020 instructs but had to be shut down early due to an upper back issue. Healthy to begin 2021, Davis missed bats at a career-high rate across 13 starts at High-A Dayton, then was part of a deadline deal for Mychal Givens. He threw more strikes but missed fewer bats after the trade, which could be due more to philosophical differences between Cincinnati (at the time) and Colorado than anything to do with Davis’ stuff. He sits about 93, mixes in two distinct breaking balls (the slider averages about 93, the curveball about 77, and both are deployed about 25% of the time) and an occasional changeup. He has a short-armed, low-slot delivery similar to Edwin Uceta of the Diamondbacks, and the way his delivery’s pace changes halfway through seems to make hitters uncomfortable. He’s tracking like a fifth starter and is now on Colorado’s 40-man.
Davis slots in at 18 in MLB.com’s mid-season 2021 system rankings:
Davis has the chance to have a usable four-pitch mix. His fastball typically sits around 92-93 mph with decent sink and tail to it, and he can reach back for 94-95 mph on occasion. He throws both a slider, 83-85 mph, and a curve, 73-77 mph, with the former a touch ahead of the latter. He has feel for a changeup with fade and deception, giving him a fourth potentially average offering.
In the past Davis has been around the plate, both before and after the surgery, though his walk rate spiked in 2021. It’s been more control over command, something that will have to be refined for him to reach his ceiling as a back-end starter.
Beyond those scouting reports, it appears Davis is self-scouting. In this story by Rox Pile, the righty elaborates on how he looked at his pitch data during the lockout and is making changes. We’ll see if those tweaks make their way into his arsenal in 2022. With his new 40-man roster status, Davis will likely begin the season in Double-A with an outside chance of getting the call should an emergency spot start be required, though he’s probably four or five guys into that emergency list.
Davis profiles as more of a pitchability righty than a true impact starter, but he certainly has utility as starter depth with multiple strong secondary offerings. The overall profile he presents led me to rank Davis 24th on my list with a 40 FV grade.