Braves in the 2014 MLB Draft
With the 32nd overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft, the Atlanta Braves selected a left-handed outfielder out of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, North Carolina. His name: Braxton Davidson.
Braves Prospect Spotlight: Braxton Davidson
Braxton Davidson was born on June 18, 1996 in Asheville, North Carolina. Davidson graduated from T.C. Roberson High School and was committed to play baseball at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During his senior season at T.C. Roberson, Davidson compiled a .449 batting average with twenty-one RBI, four home runs, and a .587 OBP, according to MaxPreps.
Throughout his high school career, Davidson mainly played first base and outfield, as well as pitching a bit. Davidson was the Gatorade Player of the Year for all North Carolina classifications in the spring of 2014. He was also the Mountain Athletic Conference’s Co-Player of the Year. Coming out of high school, Davidson was ranked as the #1 overall player in the state of North Carolina, and 19th in the country, by Perfect Game. Prior to being drafted, he was ranked as the No. 36 overall prospect entering the 2014 draft.
Braxton Becomes a Brave
Following the 2014 Draft, Davidson decided to forego his commitment to the University of the North Carolina and join the Braves farm system. He signed for the slotted $1,705,400 figure on June 16, 2014, just two days before his 18th birthday. Davidson began his professional career with the rookie affiliate, Gulf Coast League Braves.
With the GCL Braves, he hit .243 with eight RBI and a .400 OBP in thirty-seven games. To conclude the 2014 season, he was promoted to the rookie affiliate Danville Braves. In Danville, he finished with a .167 average to go with three RBI and a .348 OBP in thirteen games. Combined, he ended with a .224 average, eleven RBI, and a .387 OBP.
To begin the 2015 campaign, Davidson was assigned to the Class-A Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League. While in Rome, Davidson played in 124 games. Playing in his first full professional season, Davidson’s production improved as expected. He completed the season with a .242 average, ten home runs, and forty-five RBI. With a runner at second base, Davidson excelled profoundly in 2015. In this situation, Davidson had thirty-six at-bats and hit .417 with two home runs, while driving in fourteen runners. In addition, he led the organization in walks in 2015 with eighty-four.
Davidson Invited to Spring Training
At the beginning of the 2016 season, Davidson was given an invitation to Spring Training. The organization had no intention of keeping him on the 25- or 40-man roster, but merely did it to give him experience against Major League pitching. Davidson appeared in one game, and went 0-3 at the plate. He began the 2016 regular season with the Class-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats of the Carolina League. He is currently hitting .226 through eighty-three games, with eight homers and forty-one RBI. He’s also posted an impressive .340 OBP with forty-four walks.
As opposed to hitting well with a runner on second like in 2015, Davidson has shined in the 2016 season with a runner on first. In thirty-six at-bats with a Mudcat on first, he is hitting a magnificent .417 with four home runs and eight RBI. Historically, Davidson has hit better at home, with a combined .247 average (101-409) in 2+ seasons, versus a .220 average (91-413) on the road.
Braves Future with Davidson
Overall, Braxton Davidson has the potential to be a raw power hitter in the Major Leagues with the ability to play both right field and left field. He is listed as the Braves #13 overall prospect by MLB.com, just ahead of fellow outfield prospects Dustin Peterson (#19) and Ronald Acuna (#22). Having seen Davidson in high school before he was drafted, I got an unbiased view of his skill level. He was hands-down the best player on the field, and if he plays to his full potential, the Braves will have a star in their clubhouse.
Though Davidson is very patient at the plate, he also has had a high percentage of strikeouts that many scouts think he needs to improve on. Through the 2016 season, Davidson has 108 strikeouts compared to just forty-four walks. With Davidson being more aggressive and taking advantage of hitter’s counts, his extra base hits and home run totals would proliferate along with his average. If Davidson’s approach at the plate is revamped, expect to see him rise through the ranks in the Braves farm system and catch some eyes along the way. In the upcoming years, the Braves could have an extremely young and exciting outfield core.
Atlanta’s Young Talent
With rookie outfielder Mallex Smith and 25-year old Ender Inciarte already in The Show, Braxton Davidson and Dustin Peterson may have the opportunity to make the Braves outfield even younger and give the organization a glimpse of their future in the impending seasons. As the Atlanta Braves bear the worst record in the majors and go through a rebuilding process, expect the young talent in their farm system to make their debuts as early as Opening Day next season.
With one of, if not the, best farm systems in all of baseball, the Braves have a plethora of blossoming talent that will showcase their abilities in Atlanta. As for Braxton Davidson, the 20-year-old has the ability to add a bright future at SunTrust Park for the Braves organization.