I like Ike.
Those three words are bound to be heard echoing around the confines of Citi Field in the months ahead, and if things go as New York Mets brass and fans hope, they could very well be heard coming out of the mouths of fortunate fantasy owners as well.
A 20-inning marathon win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night put into motion a series of events that resulted in the promotion of highly touted first-base prospect Ike Davis, a Mets first-round draft pick in 2008. The 23-year-old made an immediate impact in his Major League debut on Monday night, going 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 6-1 win over the Cubs.
Long-term, Davis projects as a middle-of-the-order power bat, a player who could hit .290-.300 with 25-30 home runs and 90-100 RBI on a yearly basis. He’s drawn comparisons to John Olerud as a hitter and defender, but with greater power potential. Obviously, it would be asking a lot to expect that type of production out of him in his rookie season, but fantasy owners are not out of line to wonder if Davis can help them this year.
For one, at least in the immediate future, he’ll have the opportunity to play every day. Mets general manager Omar Minaya made it clear on Monday that Davis will not be part of a lefty-righty first-base platoon as Mike Jacobs, the man he’s replacing, was. With Daniel Murphy still not close to returning from a sprained ligament in his right knee, Davis can, at a minimum, be banked on for four at-bats every night.
Can he be productive with those four nightly at-bats? Everything he’s done over the past year indicates that he certainly can.
After struggling in short-season Single-A ball in Brooklyn during the summer of 2008, Davis rocketed up prospect lists in 2009 after hitting a combined .298 with 20 homers and 71 RBIs in 114 games between high-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in 2009. That production carried over to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .341 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 21 games.
Davis’ phenomenal 2009 earned him an invite to big-league camp in Spring Training, where a .480-3-10 line in 12 games made him a familiar name for casual Mets fans and created a movement for him to begin the season in New York, one that gained steam following Murphy’s injury late in camp. Nonetheless, he began the season at Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .364 with two homers and three doubles in 33 at-bats while Mets first basemen hit a combined .188 with one homer and five RBIs in the team’s first 12 games.
Thus, when Jacobs was designated for assignment to make room for an extra bullpen arm following Saturday’s extra-inning victory, it made all too much sense to give a chance to a young man who’s done nothing but hit everywhere he’s been for the past year.
The elephant in the room here is, of course, Murphy, the Mets’ incumbent at first base and a player the team has been high on for several years. He may still be as much as a month away from returning, but his presence undeniably makes Davis a bit of a risk for fantasy owners. It’s tough to imagine the Mets sending Murphy back to the Minors, but also tough to imagine them taking the first-base job away from Davis should he perform well in Murphy’s absence.
For the time being, Davis is more than worth a roll of the dice. Who knows, you too may just like Ike.