CarGo clone? Draft prospect shows sweet swing in Desert Invitational

February 20th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The 2023 MLB Desert Invitational has afforded numerous unique opportunities to its participants, including the ability to take hacks at big league Spring Training parks. For the University of Arizona’s Chase Davis, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick became his own personal launching pad Sunday night.

Davis, MLB Pipeline’s No. 51 Draft prospect in the 2023 class, kick-started the Wildcats’ offense with an opposite-field two-run shot in the third. He followed up his success by swatting another homer – this of the solo variety – to nearly the same spot in the fifth.

If that home run swing looked familiar – particularly at the spring home of the Rockies – that’s because former Colorado slugger Carlos González wields considerable influence over Davis.

“I’ve been swinging like this since I was 13 years old,” Davis said. “People started making the comps when I was like 16, I looked the guy up and actually, we’re pretty close now. We talk very often on Instagram.”

By the time he was done, Davis finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored to lead Arizona to a 7-1 victory over Michigan State. After a 1-for-7 start to the year at the plate, the 21-year-old righted the ship by staying to the left.

“Just opening up and allowing my hands to work I think is the easiest thing for me to create a habit of, it allows me to get to outside pitches well,” Davis said of his approach. “[Michigan State starter Noah Matheny] challenged me with fastballs in both at-bats … and I got the bat to it and put some damage on it.”

Davis was a heralded recruit coming out of Franklin High School in Elk Grove, Calif., but a shortened 2020 Draft led to him heading to Tucson, where he blossomed as a sophomore, landing him on the 2023 Preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List.

After playing sparingly as a freshman in 2021, Davis erupted offensively upon receiving consistent at-bats as a sophomore and posted a .997 OPS, while notching 32 extra-base hits in 63 games last year.

“When he is right, he’s a very, very dangerous hitter,” Arizona manager and former big league skipper Chip Hale said. “He can change the scoreboard.”

Evaluators see Davis as a physical specimen whose defensive prowess could match up with that of his considerable pop at the dish. Having spent most of his time with Arizona in left field – where he hauled in the 27th out of Sunday’s win while on the run – scouts believe his speed portends to an ability to play in center once he joins the pro ranks.

Last season, the A’s selected Arizona catcher Daniel Susac with the 19th overall pick. The Wildcats have produced eight first-round Draft picks since 2000; should Davis carry over his Desert Invitational slugging ways to Pac-12 Conference play and beyond, he’s on track to become the latest member of that class this July.