It’s widely assumed that the annual success of the New York Yankees is due to the vast sums of money they spend acquiring players. They certainly aren’t strangers to opening up their wallet, but they are just as effective in drafting and developing their own talent. Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera are just a few homegrown players on this year’s roster. Hoping to one day join this parade of talent is pitcher Rookie Davis, one of the newer prospects to the Yankees’ system.
Davis, whose real first name is William, is a big right-handed pitcher, who was taken by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Dixon High School in Holly Ridge, North Carolina. He was nearly unhittable as an amateur, going 25-4 with a 1.67 ERA, and 422 strikeouts in 209.1 innings. His school has already retired his jersey number (24), which is something most 19 year old athletes can’t claim.
The Yankees have limited Davis’ innings early in his career. He made his debut in 2012, appearing in 7 games in the GCL, spanning just 17 innings. He pitched well in that small sample size, posting a 2.65 ERA and 17 strikeouts. More information on his statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=davis-024wil. Injuries sidelined him for much of the season, but he is poised to break out in 2013.
Last off-season I had an opportunity to ask Davis some questions about his experiences in baseball and what he was looking forward to as he began his career. He is a prospect worth paying attention to, as he seeks to develop as a player and one day pitch in Yankee Stadium.
Rookie Davis Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?: I never had a favorite team growing up, but my favorite players were Cal Ripken Jr. and Roger Clemens.
Can you run through what your draft experience was like?: It was a great experience. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and just to be able to land with a franchise like the New York Yankees made the experience more memorable.
Your first name is William; how did you get the nickname of Rookie?: I have had that name since I was born. It’s always stuck with me and that’s the only thing that I will answer to. My dad told everyone that my name is Rookie and that is just what I have been called ever since. Not a bad baseball name to have.
What have you done with the Yankees organization since signing this past summer?: Just tried to get a solid routine. Worked hard and kept grinding everyday on whatever it was that needed the most work at the time. Always putting in the extra time in the weight room and doing that thing that will push you the extra mile is something that I learned early on. You have to be self-motivated in this business and I have learned that since day one. Just trying to get stronger and better every day is the goal for now.
What pitches do you throw, and which one is your strongest and which one needs the most work?: I throw a four-seam and two-seam fastball. Right now I am only focusing on the four-seam, that way I can command that pitch before I try to start throwing the two-seam as well. I feel that my four-seam fastball and my circle changeup are my best pitches at the moment. My curveball needs to be a little tighter and maybe increase some speed with it as well. But we will develop all four pitches and go from there.
After you signed, what is something you did or bought for yourself or your family/friends to celebrate?: We had a signing party and there were a lot of people from my hometown there, and all of my family. The high school that I went to held the event and there were 600-700 people there for the event. It was a way of having the community there for my special day and also a going away party before I had to leave to report to Tampa after signing.
What are you looking forward to the most in your first professional season?: Just competing every start and going out there and trying to win every game. I am a competitive person and as a pitcher I go right at hitters. So I am looking forward to just getting out on the field and doing what I can to give my team the best chance to win that day. Also, just learning more and more every day and continue the progress from last fall.
Have you had any interactions with any Yankee players yet, past or present?: There have been some guys down here working out that are on the 40-man roster and I will pick their brains sometimes about how the minor league life is. But I haven't really had the opportunity to sit and talk with any of the big league guys. Right now I am just soaking everything up and looking forward to getting after it in the 2012 season.
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