MLB Prospect Review: Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago White Sox

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox acquired Matt Davidson this offseason, and it was assumed that he would take over as the everyday third baseman. That hasn't come to pass yet though, so when could we see him on the South Side, and what could his performance look like for fantasy owners?

Throughout the minor league season, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will look at a number of prospects for your fantasy and dynasty teams. Some will be prospects that you'll see this year in the majors, while others are interesting targets in longer term formats. Up today is the recently-acquired Matt Davidson, third base prospect for the Chicago White Sox.

The Basics

Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 225 lbs.
On 40-Man Roster: Yes 
Options Remaining: 2 (2014 option used)
DOB: 3/26/1991 (Age 23 Season)

His History

A four-year varsity player at Yucaipa High School in California, Davidson was a year ahead of Mariners' pitching prospect Taijuan Walker. He finished up his prep career with a .408/.541/.828 slash line and 32 home runs in 118 games, and was drafted by the Diamondbacks with the #35 overall pick in 2009. After signing with the team for a bonus of nearly $1 million, Davidson was sent to the Diamondbacks' short-season affiliate in Yakima, Washington, an advanced assignment for a high school draftee. The numbers looked rough (.241/.312/.319) across 72 games, but not a surprise given the assignment.

For his first full professional season, Davidson went to the Midwest League, hitting .289/.371/.504 with 16 home runs across 116 games. That performance earned him a late-season promotion to High-A Visalia, where he added two more home runs but hit just .169 overall across the last 21 games. He returned to Visalia for the 2011 season, hitting .277/.348/.465 with 20 home runs and 106 RBI.

The 2012 season brought Davidson to AA Mobile as a 21 year old, and posted a solid batting average and excellent home run production (.261/.367/.469, 23 HR), and earned berths on the mid and post-season all-star teams for the Southern League. He spent most of 2013 with AAA Reno, hitting .280/.350/.481 with 17 home runs, including a Futures Game MVP award. Called up by the Diamondbacks for the last two months of the year, He finished up with a .237 batting average and three home runs across his 31 game stint.

This past offseason, Davidson was sent to the White Sox in a trade for all-star closer Addison Reed, and was expected to be the starting third baseman for the White Sox. He hit well this spring, and while the team was happy with his performance, they sent him to AAA Charlotte to ensure he played on a regular basis he was under team control for an additional year. So far in Charlotte, Davidson is hitting .183 with two home runs in 22 games so far.

The Scouting Report

Hit (AVG): Davidson isn't going to be a key provider of batting average, but has shown the ability to be at least average in the category. There are questions about his swing specifically, and whether he can make enough contact to let his power play. That said, he has shown a good approach throughout the minors, consistently posting walk rates of 8% or higher.

Power (HR, RBI): Davidson's calling card is his power, with the potential to provide 20+ home runs a season on a regular basis. While it is possible that his hit tool can limit his production in the majors, it is not expected to be to the point where he cannot play on an everyday basis.

Speed (R, SB): Davidson has four stolen bases in nearly five seasons, and is not expected to provide any value in that category on a regular basis. He should provide solid run totals if he hits enough to stay in the lineup, which is expected.

Defense: There were concerns about his ability to stay at third base as he went through the minors, but has shown improvement at each level and is now considered at least an average defender at third base. His value drops off a cliff if he has to move, as there is simply nowhere for him to play with the White Sox for the foreseeable future.

When Could He Arrive?

As Jim Margalus alluded to, I think he gets the call as soon as he is out of range of both the full year of service and even the super-two status. I've written about Davidson recently as a part of the Buy-and-Hold, and noted that the light-hitting Conor Gillaspie was originally the primary blockage to his playing time. However of late, the team has also been playing Marcus Semien at the hot corner when Gordon Beckham returned. I would estimate that he gets a call up sometime around late June/early July.

What Can He Do When He Gets There?

I can see him providing a full-season line of 20 home runs, a .260 batting average, 75 RBI and 70 runs scored. Based on his call-up timeline I alluded to above, I would project the counting stats to 11-12 home runs, 45 RBI and 40 runs scored.

Conclusions

Davidson is an interesting name for both dynasty and redraft leagues, as he can provide solid production this year when he gets the call up, and also can be a long-term answer for fantasy owners, capable of providing 20+ home runs with a decent batting average as either a 3B or a corner infielder in deeper leagues.

Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Reference
Baseball Prospectus
The Baseball Cube
Fangraphs
MLB Farm
South Side Sox
Max Preps

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