On the final day of July 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers sent outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Baltimore Orioles for a skinny right-handed pitcher that had showed some promise during four minor league seasons. The Brewers were giving up a current player that could help the Orioles today, while the O’s were giving up a hurler that was a prospect. We all know how that works, or doesn’t work in the case of the failed prospect.
In this case, it looks like the Brewers ‘done good.’
That prospect, Zach Davies, showed enough in a half-dozen games with Milwaukee that he is almost a lock for a spot in the 2016 rotation with the big-league club.
Davies was selected in the 26th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Orioles. Often, soft-tossing late-round draftees have little chance of making the bigs.
Unless, of course, said hurler is already a ‘pitcher.’
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Davies, 22, breezed through three levels in three seasons and started the 2015 season at AAA Norfolk, making 19 appearances (18 starts) before being sent to the Milwaukee organization just before the trade deadline.
He was sent to the pitcher’s purgatory known as Colorado Springs and suffered while waiting for his call-up, getting beat-up in five outings–1.852 WHIP while allowing almost 13 hits per nine innings.
Then came the bump to the bigs.
When the major league rosters expanded to 40 on September 1, Davies was part of the Milwaukee Brewers expansion. He made his big-league debut the following day in Milwaukee, and although his numbers against the Pittsburgh Pirates were somewhat pedestrian, the Brewers knew they had a keeper.
In four of his final five starts, Davies accomplished the archaic ‘quality start,’ allowing three or less earnies in six or more innings pitched. In those four games, the lanky (6-0, 160#) Puyallup, Washington product threw 26 innings, allowing 16 hits, four earned runs, while walking seven and whiffing 18.
Davies is a groundball pitcher, depending on a sinking fastball that hits the high-80s. He is also very successful with a change-up, while working on a curveball and cutter.
Davies should make the starting rotation next spring, filling the spot anywhere from 2-4, based on his performance in Arizona.
The Brewers might have given up a successful outfielder, but received in return a pitcher who could be worth far more for the Brewers.