PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — J.D. Davis has the pedigree (former third-round draft pick, strong minor-league track record) and profile (crushes lefthanded pitching, can play several positions) of a valuable piece on a winning team. He just hasn’t become one yet.
With Davis freed from the crowded Astros depth chart via a trade with the Mets, player and team are hoping this is the fresh start he needs to emerge as a legitimate major-leaguer.
“New organization, new faces, new opportunity over here,” said Davis, 25. “Hopefully get way more at-bats and more opportunities over here and not only get my feet wet but really jump in and show everybody what I could do.”
The Mets are high on Davis, too, or they would not have sent three prospects to Houston. He has minor-league options remaining, so he doesn’t need to be on the Opening Day roster, but he is a strong candidate for a bench spot or even the first-base job.
A third baseman by trade, he has dabbled at first and in the outfield. His efforts there will be focused in rightfield, as the Mets think his strong throwing arm is more valuable there than it would be in left.
The 6-3, 225-pound Davis hit .342 with a .406 on-base percentage and .583 slugging percentage in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last season. Against lefties, his numbers were .408/.483/.737.
In the majors, however, he had a .194/.260/.321 slash line in 66 games in 2017-18. He was blocked by All-Star Alex Bregman at third and his chances were limited. “It was hard to get in that lineup,” Davis said.
Although Davis was a closer at Cal State Fullerton and made a couple of emergency relief appearances for the Astros in recent years — his fastball sat in the low 90s — the Mets aren’t seriously pursuing that as an option. But you never know.
“That’s a good rumor,” Davis said with a smile. “I don’t know, two, five, 10 innings on the year? I have no idea. I’m not going to be itching to get on the mound or show anybody what I can do, but if they need me to throw a bullpen or throw on flat ground, sure, I’m not against it. Just one more little tool around my belt.”