With the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 MLB Rule IV Draft, the Atlanta Braves took Braxton Davidson, an OF/1B from TC Roberson High School in North Carolina. Davidson is just the type of bat that many Braves fans have been clamoring for. Several sources labeled him as having the best in-game power in the 2014 draft. (As opposed to raw power, in-game power is how well the player turns his strength into extra-base hits.) He also has very sound, quiet mechanics for a power guy, which could eventually lead to him having a better hit tool than most power prospects. The knock on him is his defense. Atlanta will try playing him in left field or right field, but he may be doomed to be a first baseman at the highest level. (That's not damning in and of itself, it just puts more pressure on his bat to reach its ceiling.)
MLB.com had this to say about Davidson:
Davidson put on a power show at the Tournament of Stars in June, tying one record with two homers in a game (including one estimated at more than 500 feet) and setting another with three total at the event. He's built for power with a big, strong frame and plenty of bat speed. His reputation preceded him at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in October, where few pitchers dared to challenge him. Davidson has a mature approach at the plate and is willing to take walks when he doesn't get strikes. His arm, which has been clocked in the low 90s both on the mound and from the outfield, gives him a third solid-or-better tool. He's a below-average runner but moves well enough to have a chance to play an outfield corner. A product of the Roberson High program that has produced big leaguers Darren Holmes, Cameron Maybin and Chris Narveson, Davidson has committed to North Carolina.
Check out his smooth, short swing here:
Talking Chop's own prospect guru Ethan Purser offered his two cents:
[Davidson] is a big boy with big power. Not a super long swing like one would expect from a raw power guy. Hips/lower half work very well. Good hands.
SB Nation scout Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball had this to say about Davidson:
At the plate is where Davidson shines. His raw power is not the best in this draft class but his usable power is. Of all the players in this class that can put a charge into the ball, Davidson does it the most consistently and with the most ease. That's saying something. There are probably 10 guys with plus power projection or better in this draft. His hit tool allows for this. It could easily be plus and we are talking about a guy I wouldn't be scared to say will hit .300 in the majors.
He has great feel for the strike zone and a professional approach to hitting. He goes the other way with ease and turns on pitches and launches them adeptly. He is a safe prep bat, as rare as that is. He is a smart player, knows the game and has all the skills to be an impact bat. His speed and defense will never be large assets but will never be hindrances either.
The potential to find a middle of the order impact bat is rare. Davidson fits that mold and should likely be a top half of the first round pick.
We'll have more analysis and scouting of the pick later, but for now, uh, get excited. I love this pick, and think Davidson becomes Atlanta's best hitting prospect immediately.
UPDATE (10:37 p.m.) There are no signability concerns with the pick, as Jim Bowden reports
Braxton Davidson just told us that he is going to sign with the Braves despite commitment to University of North Carolina
Braxton Davidson just told us that he is going to sign with the Braves despite commitment to University of North Carolina— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) June 6, 2014