29. Noah Davis (75 points, 14 ballots)
Davis, unlike many higher-ranked pitchers in the system, was healthy in 2022. The 25-year-old right-hander just didn’t really distinguish himself in Double-A in the season’s first half, which led him to drop out of the mid-season PuRPs list altogether. A stronger stretch run and a big league cameo were enough to bring Davis back onto the PuRPs list this time around.
Davis, along with fellow PuRP 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 by Cincinnati 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. He spent 2021 in High-A split between Dayton (Reds) and Spokane (Rockies), and his 100 inning, 3.60 ERA performance was enough to get added to Colorado’s 40-man after the season.
The Rockies moved Davis up to Double-A Hartford in 2022, where he was about 0.5 years older than league average. The jump for High-A to Double-A is thought of as the toughest step to take between minor leagues, and it certainly was for Davis. He began with a 9.18 ERA across four April starts and didn’t post an ERA below 5 in any month from April to July. In his first 19 starts and 92 2⁄3 innings, Davis had a 6.51 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, leaving a poor impression for PuRPs polling season.
Fortunately for Davis, the season didn’t end in July. He fired off back-to-back quality starts in August, part of a seven-start stretch where he lowered his season ERA down to 5.54 after his final Double-A start on September 9th. In all, Davis threw 133 1⁄3 frames in 26 starts for Hartford with a 5.54 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 10.3 K/9 rate, and 4.1 BB/9 rate. The Rockies called him up in mid-September, but sent him back to Triple-A Albuquerque without seeing any big-league game action. Davis got one start with the Isotopes (4 2⁄3 IP, one run on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts), then went back to the Rockies. In Game 162, Davis officially made his MLB debut with an inning in relief, where he allowed two runs on three hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
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 ranks Davis 19th in the system with a 40 FV tag, highlighted by 50 grades on the slider and curve:
[Davis] 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 slotted 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.
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 led me to rank Davis 27th on my list with a 40 FV grade. He will probably start 2023 in the Triple-A starting rotation as an option already on the 40-man roster for the Rockies to call up in case of a need in either the rotation or the pen. Davis is no doubt hoping that by mid-season, he’ll have enough MLB time to no longer be eligible for this list.