Alberto Gonzalez, defensive whiz middle infield sub, was not going to make the squad out of Spring Training. Gonzalez was out of options, so despite a strong spring, there was enough evidence to know how much offense he can really bring, and they wisely made a swap. In exchange, they got a 24 year old pitcher from the Padres named Erik Davis.
Davis was drafted in 2008 out of Stanford, and has only pitched 2 full seasons in pro ball. Last year he spent the majority of his time in high-A, where amassed a 3.82 ERA with 34 BB and 91 K in 99 IP in the hitter-friendly California league. He then pitched 39 1/3 innings in AA, with similar peripherals of 12 BB and 35 K and a better looking 2.75 ERA. His final start in AA was a no hitter after 7 innings, he finally gave up a hit in the 8th. To finish the season, he made a single start in AAA where he threw 5 innings, struck out 7 and walked 2, allowing 2 ER. It was a good season, and indicates that he is at least something of a prospect, and will probably start the season in AAA with the Nats. But what do the scouts say about him?
There is almost no mention of him in Baseball Prospectus’ archives, other than the fact that Bryce Harper hit his first professional home run off of him in the AFL. In that piece, Kevin Goldstein referred to Davis as a “(sort of) prospect”. He didn’t make the Goldstein’s top 20 prospect list for the Padres, either.
Outside of BP, it is noted that he is the type of college pitcher that you might expect to succeed at the lower levels of the minor leagues. While his fastball isn’t dominant, it does sit around 90 (I’ve seen it described both as high-80s and low-90s). He isn’t known for any particular plus pitches, but he has good command. In order to succeed, he’s got to keep that control up, and while he may be a fringey prospect, his stuff isn’t so underwhelming that you couldn’t forecast him as a future middle of the rotation innings eater in a perfect world.