Davis looks to take his defence to the next level

Former first-round pick D.J. Davis is aiming to reach the double-A level this season. Photo: Keegan Matheson

Former first-round pick D.J. Davis is aiming to reach the double-A level this season. Photo: Keegan Matheson

By: Keegan Matheson

Toronto Observer

DUNEDIN, Fla. - D.J. Davis wants to talk about his defence for a change.

The Toronto Blue Jays outfielder and 2012 first-round pick is one of the fastest players in the minors, but after repeating a level with the single-A Lansing Lugnuts in 2015, Davis is ready to showcase the other aspects of his game.

Such as his ability to catch the ball.

“Yes. Yes, I think they overlook the glove,” Davis said. “I love defence.”

After committing 18 errors in 2014 playing almost exclusively in centre field, Davis cut that number to 11 in 2015 while seeing time at all three outfield positions. It’s a trend he hopes to continue after working on his fielding angles and throwing arm over the offseason.

Now entering his fifth year of professional ball after being drafted at the young age of 17, Davis will also be drawing on lessons learned from an improved approach last season.

“When they first sent me back, going back to Lansing, obviously you’ve got to do something right,” Davis said. “So I just took that year just to learn the game more. Instead of going there and just playing ball, I was learning and using the other guys that were with me.”

After spending much of the winter in Georgia and at home in Mississippi, Davis ramped up his defensive training towards the end of the offseason.

“I work on it and just get polished up a bit. So when I get here, it’s already full stride.”

Davis, who batted .282 with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases last season, is determined to open the 2016 season with single-A Dunedin and says he’s aiming to reach the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats by the All-Star break.

If all goes as planned, the 21-year-old could soon be drawing on some family history.

Wayne Davis, D.J.’s father, played for Dunedin as part of the Blue Jays organization in 1988 as a 22-year old outfielder, his final year in professional baseball. The elder Davis had some speed of his own, and still holds the family’s stolen base record with 46 as a member of the Myrtle Beach Blue Jays in 1987.