The Milwaukee Brewers may have traded away Mike Fiers, but they may have already replaced him, as well. After Doug Melvin sent Carlos Gomez and Fiers to the Houston Astros, he shipped Gerardo Parra off to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for right-handed pitcher Zach Davies.
Davies wasted no time in making a great impression with his new club, as he struck out seven batters in six innings while allowing just one run in his first start with the Brewers Triple-A affiliate.
But who exactly is the Brewers getting in Davies?
Here’s what Baseball Prospectus writer Jeff Long had to say about him:
@JSchu23 4/5 guy. Average stuff except plus(ish) CH. Knows how to pitch, but limited ceiling. Nearly MLB ready though.
— Jeff Long (@BSLJeffLong) July 31, 2015
Davies isn’t built like a pitcher. At 6’0″ 150 lbs, he looks more like a shortstop than a guy who throws darts on the mound. A lot of the speculation that surrounds Davies is because of his small build. People who know the game well question if he can last a full 32-start season, thinking his body will eventually break down. But pitchers like Tim Lincecum (5’11”, 170 lbs) and Travis Wood (5’11”, 175 lbs) have overcome their short and skinny stature to become successful major league pitchers. There’s no reason Davies can’t add his name to that list.
Davies’ fastball won’t overpower hitters, but he does a good job of hiding the ball up until he releases it, making the pitch seem much faster than it is. His strikeout rate of 21.1% is very good for a pitcher without blow-it-by-you stuff, although the strikeouts will probably drop a bit when he faces major league hitters. His changeup is his best pitch, but he’ll need to expand his arsenal or strengthen it in order to be an effective starter.
Along with his decent strikeout percentage, Davies does an excellent job of pounding the strike zone and forcing ground balls. He’s walked under three hitters per nine innings in each of his last three minor league seasons, and has had a groundball rate north of 46% in every season of his career.
Giving up Gerardo Parra, a free-agent-to-be who is in the midst of a career year, for a pitcher like Davies is a win for the Brewers, in my opinion. Parra is due for some serious regression in 2016, so to get a young arm who has the potential to be a solid back-of-the-rotation guy in return for him should be looked at as a victory.
At 22 years old and almost a full season of Triple-A under his belt, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Davies break into the rotation in 2016. He could easily transition to the No. 4 or No. 5 spot in Milwaukee’s rotation, which is in need of some quality arms.