When you hear about a third base prospect that has power, the first question that usually comes up is...
"Yeah, but can he stick at third?"
In todays game, third baseman that are good on both sides of the ball are a rarity and a luxury most teams can't afford. I mean, in 2012 Chris Johnson was the 17th ranked third baseman in WAR and we all remember how bad the Astros needed an upgrade there. In 2013 Matt Dominguez was 16th in WAR among third baseman.
Good third baseman are hard to find.
J.D. Davis is no different. Power is above average. Hit has a chance to be average. Arm is plus. But can he field?
That's the big question. It's part of the reason he was still available in the third round of the 2014 draft. A lot of scouts question if he's a third baseman. It's not the arm strength. It's his first step and range.
When I was I took a trip down to ST this year, I made an effort to watch J.D. Davis field a third base. The downside is that going early on in ST means no games, just drills.
The following is a video I was able to get while I was there. The first half is just J.D. Davis but the second half is him and Tyler White alternating fielding balls using just the glove.
You won't get much from this on range because he wasn't being challenged range wise. You won't get much on the first step because he's not working on the first step. These drills are mostly about footwork and glove work.
However, you can tell how a player moves.
I want you to focus on his hips. Watch how he maintains a good posture in his spine as he gets low. He does't have to flex his spine like Tyler White does to get low balls.
There are two very important reasons why his hips are important.
1. You keep your center of mass within your base of support for one. That allows for optimal balance when having to react to changes in direction based on how the ball reacts to the ground. Arching the back puts more weight through the quads and lumbar spine which take longer to adjust to changes of direction because your weight has to reposition over the base of support then react using the less explosive quads.
2. The hips are the primary source of explosive movements. The hips are the most explosive and strongest joint. The glutes are the focus here in terms of strength and explosiveness. By being in a position where the glutes can explode into movement, an athlete can get on his toes and moving more quickly than someone who has to straighten up the spine and then bend at the hips to get moving quickly.
I am by no means saying that he is extremely explosive. I am saying that he is biomechanically more efficient that some of his peers (Tyler White in this particular video). Having good hip mobility is essential with fielding because of balance and body reactions. I say body reactions for the sole point of getting the body moving where you want it, not reactions in how quickly he reads and reacts to a batted ball.
To me, he doesn't move like a first baseman. He has the movements of someone who can stick because of efficient hip mobility that makes him move better than he appears.