Cardinals draft University of Arizona outfielder Chase Davis with No. 21 pick

Arizona outfielder Chase Davis (5) during an NCAA baseball game against Grand Canyon on...
Arizona outfielder Chase Davis (5) during an NCAA baseball game against Grand Canyon on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)(Rick Scuteri | AP)
Published: Jul. 9, 2023 at 8:14 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Heading into Sunday night’s MLB Draft in Seattle, there was a collegiate outfielder projected to go in the mid-to-late stages of the first round that seemed like an ideal fit for the St. Louis Cardinals.

As the opening round unfolded, Chase Davis remained on the board—until the Cardinals got on the clock. With its target in sight, St. Louis landed the left-handed hitting outfielder from the University of Arizona, drafting Davis with the No. 21 overall pick.

After a respectable 2022 campaign in which Davis slugged 18 home runs and posted a robust .997 OPS in 290 plate appearances for the Wildcats, the Sacramento native took a leap forward in his third collegiate season this spring. Davis compiled a .362/.489/.742 batting line (1.231 OPS) with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs in 278 plate appearances to earn second-team All-American honors as voted on by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Davis is a product of MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) youth outreach program, which he credited during an MLB Network interview Sunday night as an important part of developing his game to the place that it is today.

The 21-year-old outfielder is listed at six-foot, one-inch, and 216 pounds. Davis’ lefty swing has been compared to that of longtime MLB outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. On the MLB Network live coverage of the draft, Harold Reynolds shared his belief that Davis is the best pure hitter in the 2023 draft class.

That sentiment is not universally held⁠—Davis’ scouting grades per MLB Pipeline marked him with 45-grade hitting and 55-grade power on the 80-point scale. Those grades suggest that Davis may not be a player who ultimately hits for a high batting average in the pros, which invites some degree of risk in the selection. But it seemed that Davis recognized the need for improvement in his contact tool over the past year, raising his batting average from .289 to .362 while substantially reducing his strikeout rate this past season at Arizona.

Like with Jordan Walker during the 2020 draft, the general consensus seems to be that the Cardinals benefitted from a talented player with upside inexplicably falling into the latter portion of the round, as Director of Scouting Randy Flores jumped at the chance to add Davis to the organization.