If he wasn’t in uniform, there’s a pretty good chance you could mistake Zach Davies for the batboy – that’s what happens when a slender, baby-faced 19-year-old plays professional baseball. But since he made his professional debut with the Shorebirds in April, last year’s 26th round Oriole pick – who was all ready to go to Arizona State before signing at the last minute last summer – has made South Atlantic League batters aware that he’s all grown up, with a change-up to match.
The versatile Davies began the season in the bullpen, but the promotion of another Shorebird hurler placed Zach into the starting rotation, where he’s thrived. Nowhere was that more apparent than in his last appearance Tuesday evening, where he threw a career-high seven innings in shutting out the Savannah Sand Gnats. Unfortunately, he got no decision in a duel which was lost by the Shorebirds’ bullpen 2-0.
But while Davies has only started nine of his 17 appearances, he finds himself leading the team in innings pitched with 75 1/3, to go with a 3-2 record and 3.70 ERA. Zach has struck out 56 and walked 29, which gives him a WHIP of 1.34. That’s quite respectable and better than the league average; bear in mind much of his peer group is pitching with 2 to 4 seasons of college experience. He may have been a low draft pick because of perceived signability issues in that he was committed to Arizona State, but the Sun Devils’ loss seems to be Delmarva’s gain and as Zach fills out a little bit he could add a few ticks to a mid-to high-80’s fastball.
As is the case with many high school pitchers, it will be interesting to see what the plans are for Zach during the remaining seven weeks of the season. Many high school pitchers run against an innings limit of around 100 innings in their first season, which means Zach may only have 4 to 5 starts left. So if you want to watch SAL batters try to match wits with the master of changing speeds, you may want to hurry.