It seems that Mets GM Sandy Alderson isn’t quite finished in his search for relievers this year. What’s more surprising is that the search has turned internal. Per PR guru Jay Horwitz:
Must see TV.Thurs. at 7 PM.Ike Davis on SNY’s Hotstove. Ike will detail his plans to double as a left handed relief specialist in 2013.
— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) February 5, 2013
Is he serious? Well, I’m supposing not since (as of writing) this tweet has garnered almost zero attention. In the spirit of imagination, let’s take a look at it. Is Ike Davis qualified?
Davis certainly has the pedigree, as his father Ron Davis pitched 11 major league seasons with the Twins, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants. Ike, in fact, was a highly touted pitching prospect in high school, as per this Baseball America snippet (obtained via MetsToday):
Davis had realistic expectations of going in the first round, both as a pitcher and hitter coming into the year, but he had a disappointing spring, in both roles, as Chaparral won a third straight state title. While he has excellent bat speed and continued to hit for average (.447), he drove balls only in spurts, which magnified his lack of speed and athletic ability. His velocity also slipped. It settled into the high 80s this spring after being 87-91 and touching 92 in the past. But he still gets exceptional movement from a three-quarters angle. Scouts are split on where to play Davis, but most see greater upside on the mound. His father, on the other hand, wants him to be an everyday player. The debate could benefit Arizona State, which recruited him to play both ways and has penciled him in as its starting first baseman for 2006.
Certainly the talent was there, as Davis was signed by Arizona State University as both a pitcher and first baseman (The link is redundant, but includes a picture of a high-school-aged Davis, who looks roughly exactly the same as he does today). He struggled as a starter his freshman year, posting a 7.42 ERA in 47.1 innings. he did much better as a reliever in 2007, allowing only a single run in 6.2 innings of relief (working primarily as a reliever). As a junior in 2008, he struck out 20 in 24 innings against 4 walks and a 2.25 ERA, touching 94 mph on the radar gun.
He hasn’t pitched since.
Ike’s repertoire reportedly included a slider and changeup to go with his fastball. 6 years later, it’s safe to say he’d be relying only on the heater. Is that a problem though? Per his scouting report, Davis throws from a deceptive three-quarter angle, which would allow for enough movement to deceive left-handed hitters and encourage light contact, especially if he can maintain anything better than a half-assed off-speed pitch. With higher exposure, Davis would likely be victimized by his complete lack of experience as a professional pitcher. That said, it’s at least somewhat worthwhile as a spring training experiment, in my opinion. Horwitz said Ike would be limited to one batter per game, and would probably be limited to only one or two games per week. Having the versatility of a second left-handed reliever would help expand the pen and allow Terry Collins to save his primary lefty (presumably Josh Edgin) for later, high-leverage situations.
Is this actually going to happen? Probably not. That said, the Mets have made worse personnel decisions, and I don’t think there’s a lot of risk to give it a shot in Spring Training.