With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's White Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: Who might surprise?CHICAGO -- Matt Davidson was acquired prior to the 2014 season and, at the time, he was seen as the White Sox
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's White Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: Who might surprise?
CHICAGO -- Matt Davidson was acquired prior to the 2014 season and, at the time, he was seen as the White Sox third baseman of the future. But he struggled in his first season in the organization, batting .199 at Triple-A Charlotte in '14 and .203 in '15.
After rebuilding his swing prior to the 2016 season, Davidson quietly rebounded with a solid .268/.349/.444 slash line with 10 homers in 75 games at Charlotte. He was called up at the end of June and promptly broke his foot rounding first base on an RBI single, ending his season.
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And, just like that, Davidson was forgotten again. Now, though, he's relaxed and ready to surprise.
"We've always had, since I've been here, you have this pressure to win. But it's kind of not here anymore. And it's kind of a good feeling," Davidson said. "It just lets us -- we are going to play with [White Sox manager] Rick [Renteria], just his energy, just get out and play and have fun. I think we are going to have some good results.
Who might surprise for each club in 2017?
"Granted, we lost some guys, and there are some great teams in the American League Central. But I think everybody is really excited just with young guys going out and playing. We have a great future."
General manager Rick Hahn has undertaken a full rebuild for the South Siders this offseason. Davidson started his full rebuild a little earlier by taking apart his swing following the 2015 campaign.
That new approach helped Davidson's rebirth this past season. Additional tweaks were made to his swing during rehab after the fracture in his foot was surgically repaired, with Davidson trying to maximize the whole plate and get the barrel out in front of his body earlier on inner-half pitches to maximize his power. The results were on display during the organization's hitters mini-camp in January -- Davidson crushed the ball.
"He looks like he's maturing and growing into that person that everybody kind of saw a few years back in terms of anticipating what he might become," said Renteria, who knows Davidson from his 31 games with Arizona in 2013. "Obviously, the game is still going to tell us where he is or isn't. From our actions right now, he looks really, really good."
There's a chance Davidson doesn't break camp with the White Sox, but the 25-year-old can play at third base, first base and designated hitter. If incumbent third baseman Todd Frazier is dealt away, or if Davidson gets plate appearances at DH, he could become a 20-homer-type contributor.
Absent from Davidson's profile are the high-end projections attached to top prospects such as Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito. But Davidson has no problem with his talent flying under the radar going into camp.
Spring Training begins on Feb. 14, with pitchers' and catchers' workouts at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. Full-squad drills get underway on Feb. 18.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.