2023 1st-rounder Davis signs with Cards, takes BP in St. Louis

Cardinals impressed with adjustments slugger made in college

July 16th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- His only previous experience at Busch Stadium coming during his many hours of playing “MLB The Show” video game, lefty slugger Chase Davis got a taste of the real thing on Saturday and loved every second of it.

Davis, the No. 21 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, signed with the Cardinals on Saturday and put on a show in batting practice between games of the split doubleheader between the Cards and Nationals.

“It’s way more real and way more fun, let me tell you that much,” Davis said after a batting practice session in which he hit a half-dozen home runs into the empty seats at Busch Stadium. “It’s awesome to actually be here and experience everything like this.”

Having followed the 21-year-old Davis since 2020 when they considered drafting him out of high school, the Cardinals feel like they got a steal by nabbing the versatile outfielder with the 21st overall pick. This past season at the University of Arizona, Davis hit .362 with 21 home runs, 17 doubles and two triples to go with 74 RBIs in 57 games. He also made the necessary adjustments between his sophomore and junior seasons in college with his hitting stance and swing plane to dramatically reduce his strikeout rate -- other factors that impressed the Cardinals.

“I think the maturity is there, and the physicality is there now,” said the 6-foot-1, 216-pound Davis, who modeled his powerful lefty swing after Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and former Rockies All-Star Carlos González. “I took the time over those three years at the university to develop that. That was the intention, and that’s what I achieved.”

Davis will report to the Cardinals' complex in Jupiter, Fla., on Sunday, where he will be tested to gauge his readiness for professional baseball. Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque will have a large say in what level Davis begins his career. Many of the players already signed by St. Louis are either on the way to or already in Florida, Cards assistant GM/director of scouting Randy Flores said.

Davis joins a Cardinals organization where he is already quite familiar with prized rookie Jordan Walker and top prospect Masyn Winn. In 2019, the three of them played in the MLB Develops camp together at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and have maintained a friendship through the years. One of the first people to text congratulations to Davis after he was drafted was the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Walker.

“We went to IMG Academy for three weeks, and he was a part of my friend group,” Walker said of Davis. “I’m so glad that he’s with us now, and I texted him right after he got drafted. He’s super stoked to be here.

“Watching his BP is something special, for sure. Back in high school at that showcase, [Davis would] be pimping home runs and make it fun for everybody. I’m really excited to see him when he gets here and starts with this organization. He could hit them farther than me.”

Davis’ growth over the past three seasons while playing at Arizona convinced Flores that the outfielder could someday become an impact player at the MLB level.

“[Davis’ power] was known about him in high school, but what really resonated with our group was that he improved,” said Flores, who is hopeful that the Cardinals will be able to sign 18 of their 19 Draft picks -- with prep star, LSU commit and 20th-round pick Cameron Johnson being unlikely to ink a deal.

“He didn’t have a senior year of high school, and you’re missing at-bats there,” Flores continued. “Then, you go into your freshman year and you’re playing on a College World Series-contending team, and you don’t crack the starting lineup and you could argue that there’s two lost years there. His first year of playing regularly, he knew he had to make adjustments. The first chance he had with those adjustments, it led to his banner year. The speed with which he adapted was very attractive to us.”