Cards' No. 21 pick Davis inspires comparisons to CarGo

July 10th, 2023

This story was originally published on June 20. We have updated it to reflect Chase Davis being drafted No. 21 overall by the Cardinals.

PHOENIX -- A major inflection point in Chase Davis’ baseball journey began with arriving in Tucson to start his collegiate career at the University of Arizona. Just over three years later and 130 miles north at Chase Field, MLB’s No. 39 Draft prospect met with front office brass of multiple big league clubs in June to help determine where his pro career will begin.

From the disappointment as an 18-year-old of not hearing his name called in the pandemic-shortened 2020 Draft emerged one central question:

“How is my career going to shape out in baseball?”

As it turned out, Davis was selected by the Cardinals with the 21st overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft.

Davis, a longtime participant in MLB’s Breakthrough Series program, which focuses on the on- and off-field development of youth, was taking a leap of faith when he left Elk Grove, Calif., for college. Davis was taking on a new environment while trying to perpetuate the burgeoning legacy of big league players from his city.

“I honestly really do [want to be a flag bearer for Elk Grove],” Davis said. “And you know what? I can attest to that because there are so many stars so far already in the league that have come out of the city of Elk Grove. So it's cool to understand that Northern California has a lot of talent, as well, and a lot of great guys and great people.”

In the past 12 seasons alone, Elk Grove has produced a handful of big leaguers: Dylan Carlson, J.D. Davis, Nick Madrigal and Rowdy Tellez, among them.

Despite all that local talent, the player to whom Davis -- who boasts a buggy whip swing from the left-handed side -- is most often compared is three-time All-Star Carlos González.

“I’ve been swinging like this since I was 13 years old, and people started making the comps when I was like 16 and I looked the guy up,” Davis said of González. “We’re pretty close now, we talk very often on Instagram. I didn’t emulate my swing after him at all, I just looked at the two [side by side] and was like ‘Oh, similar swings!’”

That power-packed left-handed stroke delivered 21 homers and 74 RBIs in just 57 games during his junior season with the Wildcats, producing a gaudy .362/.489/.742 slash line that included more walks (43) than strikeouts (40) and landed him as a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist.

That production is Davis’ latest statement on controlling his baseball journey. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 83 prospect prior to the 2020 Draft, the 6-foot-1 outfielder has climbed the rankings even further in the 2023 class. In addition to the hometown influences and tips garnered from González, Davis has had another former big league voice in his corner.

“Chip Hale, I would say … was the number one guy that's really been able to be there for me,” Davis said of his coach at Arizona. “He's a leader, man. He loves to lead, loves to win and he knows what he's doing. So I tip my cap to him. But nonetheless, hell of a guy and someone I could always lean on.”

Hale, who accumulated a seven-year big league career and served as D-backs skipper during the 2015 and ‘16 seasons, has spent a career evaluating talent.

“When he is right, he’s a very, very dangerous hitter,” Hale said of Davis earlier this season. “He can change the scoreboard.”

Davis’ history of having supporters with an impressive track record dates back to his days in the MLB Develops program, which he participated in throughout high school.

“Not only do they give you advice for baseball, those mentors, those coaches that were at Develops, they were always in my ear about things whether I wanted it at the time or not,” Davis said. “But now I'm so, so grateful, and I've had these phone calls with them and I've told them how grateful I am for them to be able to give me their two cents.”

Professing a desire to impact those beyond the field, Davis’ enthusiasm for what the game represents to a community and fanbase is evident.

“I feel like the state, the school and a lot of people there have shaped me,” Davis said.

“I want teams to know that not only are they getting a great baseball player, but even better of a person. Someone that wants to win, somebody that really cares, somebody that's true to themselves and ready to win and be a part of something special.”