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2012 Draft Preview -- D.J. Davis

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Continuing with our preview of some players that the Texas Rangers could be looking at with their picks at #29, #39, and #52...

As I said last year when doing this drill, this would be a lot easier if the Rangers were picking higher, and neither of the Rangers' first couple picks were guys we'd ever talked about before the draft. Still, we'll take a look at a few of the intriguing names that could be in the mix for the Rangers, and see who might be out there...

This morning we take a look at the player Keith Law has the Rangers taking at #29 in his latest mock draft, Mississippi high school outfielder D.J. Davis.

D.J. Davis scouting report -- D.J. Davis is a 6'0", 170 lb. lefthanded hitting outfielder from Stone County High School in Mississippi. Davis was ranked #66 on Law's early May top 100 player rankings, but #20 in Baseball America's top 500 ranking, and #30 in Kevin Goldstein's top 30 ranking. While Law has Davis going to Texas in his most recent mock draft, Jim Callis's most recent mock draft has Davis going to the Toronto Blue Jays at #17, Jonathan Mayo's has him going at #26, and Frankie Piliere has Davis going to Toronto, but at #22.

Davis is described as being one of two players in the draft with legitimate 80 grade speed, with the other being Georgia prepster Byron Buxton, who is expected to go in the top three overall. His speed makes him a potential centerfielder, although his arm is considered below-average, with opinions differing as to whether it will play in center or if he'll have to go to left field. Multiple reports I've looked at compared Davis to Billy Hamilton, the Cincinnati Reds' 2009 2nd rounder who was also from a Mississippi high school, has 80 grade speed, and has stolen 57 bases in 50 games this season after stealing 103 bases in low-A ball last year.

The questions about Davis involve his bat, which is still very raw. Mississippi isn't known for its high level of play in baseball, and while the reports suggestion Davis's tools are good enough for him to develop as a hitter, it remains to be seen how he'll adjust to more advanced pitchers. Davis is committed to a community college in Mississippi, which suggests that signability shouldn't be an issue.

Why might Davis be a fit here? Texas likes toolsy, high-risk, high-reward players, and picking Davis would continue the Rangers' trend of prioritizing athletic up-the-middle players. The lazy comp here, in terms of tools, would be to suggest Davis is like a faster (and younger) version of Julio Borbon, who the Rangers took in the supplemental first round out of the University of Tennessee in 2007. Like Borbon, Davis is speedy, seen as having some contact ability and some gap power, but has a weak throwing arm that could limit him defensively. Davis is also much more raw than Borbon was coming out of college.

Here's some video of Davis:

D.J. Davis, of, Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss. (via BaseballAmericaVideo)