Johnny Davis (davisjo06)

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Johnathan Lewis Davis

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Johnny Davis was playing in the Mexican League, with the Guerreros de Oaxaca, when his contract was purchased by the Tampa Bay Rays on August 29, 2019. The Rays were looking for a player that they could use as a pinch-runner during the pennant race, and the minor league veteran, who had 54 stolen bases in 106 games for Oaxaca and the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, fit the bill perfectly, and would also be eligible to be eventually added to the postseason roster as well. He was not a run-only Herb Washington type however, as he had also hit .300 in La Liga that year. Davis played 5 games for the Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League and stole 3 bases and scored a run while getting just 2 plate appearances, then was called up to Tampa where he made his debut on September 11th against the Texas Rangers. He was used as a pinch-runner for third baseman Matt Duffy in the 7th inning, but was left stranded on base and then gave way to Daniel Robertson on defence. Overall, he went 1 for 4 with 5 runs scored in 8 games, with his only major league hit a triple. He appeared in three games as an outfielder. He did not play in the postseason.

Davis was originally a 22nd round draft pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2013 amateur draft. He played in their system until 2018, when he played 9 games for the AAA Colorado Springs SkySox, his first experience at that level. Hitting .118, he was released at the end of April and a few weeks later hitched on with Dos Laredos, where he hit .312 in 55 games the rest of the way. He suffered a major career setback when he tore his ACL in 2015, but he bounced back to be a Florida State League mid-season All-Star in 2016, after hitting .295 in 58 games for the Brevard County Manatees. That earned him a promotion to the AA Biloxi Shuckers to finish the year. With Biloxi in 2017, he was a Southern League All-Star when he hit .263 in 133 games with 63 runs and 52 stolen bases. In 2018, he had asked for his release from Milwaukee after a m,onth and was briefly with the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association before heading to Mexico.

He grew up in Compton, CA, one of the most impoverished towns in the U.S. His father was a no-gooder, always in and out of jail, and his mother, his two brothers and him often lived in homeless shelters. "Growing up in Compton, a lot of people don’t have money. When you're a kid in Compton, you know you don't have money, but you don't really feel the effects of being poor. The difference in my situation was I knew how bad it was. I knew how poor we were. When you’re living out of shelters, you know that's not normal. There were times when we just didn't have any food." Baseball became his salvation. He was taken under his wing by George Pickens, an associate of former major leaguer John Young who did enormous work to develop amateur baseball in the tough neighborhood. He was on his way to becoming another casualty of life on the streets when Pickens convinced him to give baseball a serious try, as he was already blessed with tremendous speed. He had already failed out of two high schools, but managed to be admitted to Leuzinger High School thanks to his athletic ability, while Givens was teaching him the game. He did not start playing it in an organized manner until junior college. His strong performance there got him drafted.

Following his brief major league stint, he was forced to sit out the 2020 season by the COVID-19 pandemic, then returned to the Mexican League in 2021, hitting .306 in 13 games split between two teams. In 2022, he hit .307 in 21 games for the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the [independent leagues|independent]] Atlantic League before returning to La Liga for one final go, 17 games for the Leones de Yucatan for whom he hit .200. He retired after that season, having played some 677 professional games.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Bob Nightengale: "Playing in Mexico just weeks ago, 29-year-old Rays rookie Johnny Davis endures rags-to-riches path to MLB", USA Today, September 18, 2019. [1]

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