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Davies' repertoire works best as starter

Right-hander is tough to rattle, can pitch his way out of jams
MLB.com @BerniePleskoff

Orioles right-hander Zach Davies went to high school in Gilbert, Ariz., which is a freeway ride away from where his Arizona Fall League Glendale Desert Dogs club plays their home games. In seven starts, he was 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA over a team-high 25 2/3 innings.

Selected out of Mesquite High School in Texas by the O's in the 26th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Davies does not have the type of large frame we are more accustomed to seeing in today's pitchers. Rather, he takes his 6-foot, 150-pound frame to the mound and competes with a quick, strong arm and very good pitching mechanics. Davies doesn't overpower hitters. Rather, the Orioles' No. 8-ranked prospect uses a fine, full repertoire of pitches that include a fastball, changeup, slider and cutter to alter the balance of hitters and change their eye levels. His good command and control compensate for a lack of velocity.

Orioles right-hander Zach Davies went to high school in Gilbert, Ariz., which is a freeway ride away from where his Arizona Fall League Glendale Desert Dogs club plays their home games. In seven starts, he was 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA over a team-high 25 2/3 innings.

Selected out of Mesquite High School in Texas by the O's in the 26th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Davies does not have the type of large frame we are more accustomed to seeing in today's pitchers. Rather, he takes his 6-foot, 150-pound frame to the mound and competes with a quick, strong arm and very good pitching mechanics. Davies doesn't overpower hitters. Rather, the Orioles' No. 8-ranked prospect uses a fine, full repertoire of pitches that include a fastball, changeup, slider and cutter to alter the balance of hitters and change their eye levels. His good command and control compensate for a lack of velocity.

Throwing his fastball consistently between 88-90 mph, Davies sets up his 77-79 mph changeup as his best secondary pitch. He also throws a cutter and a slider in the mid-80s range. Pounding the ball low in the strike zone and throwing strikes has helped Davies register a number of groundouts in the games I have watched. He isn't fancy or flashy. Davies is just a solid pitcher with a good idea of what he wants to accomplish against each hitter.

Repeating his mechanically flawless delivery and not trying to do too much or gain more velocity than his capabilities allow, Davies is content to nibble around the edges of the strike zone and get hitters to be looking for both the inside and outside pitch. He does not change his arm speed or release point when throwing his secondary pitches. As a result, Davies is deceptive and not predictable.

Davies should continue to get more and more opportunity to show that he belongs pitching against quality hitters.

This past April, Davies took a line drive off his arm that cost him some time on the mound. In May, he suffered some shoulder tendinitis that resulted in him losing development time as well. As a result, Davies made up some of those innings in Arizona. From what I saw, he has shown no signs of wear and tear. Davies looks very healthy and is throwing nice and easy.

Video: Top Prospects: Zach Davies, RHP, Orioles

Davies is a polished pitcher and has advanced quickly in the O's organization. He began 2012 at Class A Delmarva, starting 17 of the 25 games in which he pitched. Davies threw 114 1/3 innings in his rookie season. He finished with a 3.86 ERA, yielding 49 earned runs. Davies struck out 91 and walked 46, compiling a WHIP of 1.36.

Davies' ERA has improved in each of his three Minor League seasons. In 2013, after a promotion to Class A Advanced Frederick, his ERA dropped to 3.69 and his WHIP went down to 1.23. This past season, Davies was promoted once again. At the age of 21, he was assigned to Double-A Bowie, where his ERA dropped to 3.35 while he started 20 of 21 games and lowered his ERA.

Of course, Davies' average physique causes concern about wear and tear. He still has a chance to add some strength to his frame so he can better withstand high heat and humidity in the summer months. However, from what I have seen of Davies' mechanics and the fact he repeats his release point so easily and with such little effort, I don't think his size will ever be an issue. As a rhythm pitcher, when he sets a comfortable tempo and pace, he is tough to rattle. If Davies gets in trouble on the mound, he can pitch his way back to the dugout without major damage.

I view Davies as a starting pitcher. I feel his repertoire works best in that role as opposed to coming out of the bullpen. Where Davies fits in the rotation depends upon the other four pitchers. I do, however, feel he would slot nicely following after a higher velocity, more fastball dependent pitcher.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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