Davis Takes the Stage In Brooklyn - Part I

Davis has high expectations for himself

Ike Davis, the Mets' top overall pick in the 2008 draft, is ready to take his game to the next level despite being squarely under the spotlight of his draft status. Though his early numbers may not meet his own expectations, Davis has a strong history of success in college and it is that base that many hope will propel him while in Brooklyn.

Losing the 15-game hit streak that he had started on his first day as a pro didn't bother Ike Davis.

In his three years at Arizona State University, Davis, the Brooklyn Cyclones' 21-year-old first baseman and the Mets' top pick in this year's draft at No. 18 overall, had put together hit streaks into the twenties, so it wasn't anything new.

"It wasn't a big deal," he says. "It was neat to start my pro career with a little hit streak like that, but everything comes to an end. I'm sure I'll have another streak pretty close to it."

Entering Tuesday's off-day, the left-handed Davis had 21 hits in 18 games, including hits in all but one game he's played. He's already pieced together back-to-back 1-for-4 performances to start a new streak. But it's exactly those performances that are providing the frustration.

"I should be raking, I should be killing these pitches," he says. "Got an off-day, I won't think about it."

Davis has just three multi-hit games this season, and he thinks that number should be a lot higher. Taking up a perfectionist attitude can lead to success, but it's also something that Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo feels can be unhealthy.

"I don't know what he's talking about," Alfonzo says. "He's thinking too much ... he just needs to relax. He's been playing well, he's been hitting the ball everyday. I hope he relaxes a little more and continues to do what he's been doing because it's fine."

Davis, who's in total batting .263 with 12 doubles and nine RBI, will likely finish his debut season with Brooklyn. It's hard to blame him for wanting to do so well—all his life, he's been around only the highest level of baseball. His father, Ron, was an 11-year Major League pitcher, and served as a closer for the Twins in the mid-1980's. At a young age, Davis put together that his father was someone special when the two would attend Old Timers' Days at Yankee Stadium.

"[My father] would play and I'd get to see all the old timers, and they knew him and they were talking," Davis says. "I was like, 'Oh, that's pretty cool.'"

Growing up in Scottsdale, Ariz., an area that's ripe for baseball, Davis wasn't pushed into the game by his father or any other factor. He played all sports growing up, but at 6-foot-4, felt he wasn't tall enough for basketball, and at 205 pounds, not thick enough for football, so baseball became the sport he felt he could enjoy the most success in.

"I wasn't going to be a quarterback because I was getting my butt crushed by 300-pound guys," he jokes. "I just started [playing baseball] when I was young and I just loved the game ... You can play year round [in Arizona], even though in the summer they shouldn't play cause it's 130 [degrees] and it kills you. It's good weather, good baseball. There's lots of professional players that reside in Arizona and there's great knowledge of the game there."

Davis says his father, as could be expected, has been an invaluable resource all his life. He thinks people tend to forget, however, that having a Major League dad doesn't make any guarantees for his own career.

"I think people expect you to be better if you have a dad that played in the big leagues," Davis says. "They expect you to do really good just because your dad was a player, and that's not always the case. It's just good ‘cause he's been through a lot, he knows a lot about the game. I got a lot of knowledge earlier than most kids would have."

In Davis' time at Chaparral High, a powerhouse school, he won three straight Arizona 4A state titles and was named the MVP of both the 2004 AFLAC All-American Game and the 2005 High School All-American Game. His 48 career doubles set a school record, and he wasn't bad on the mound either, going 23-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 57 appearances. He was drafted in the 19th round by the Devil Rays in 2005, his senior year.

Davis' prowess at both the plate and on the mound led ASU to recruit him as a two-way player. As a freshman, right out of the gate, Davis started and impressed. He batted .329 and hit nine home runs (tying him for the team lead) in 58 games his first year. He was also the Sun Devils' Friday night starter, though he struggled on the mound to an ERA over seven.

Davis continued to hit as a sophomore, playing more outfield than first base and earning a second consecutive First Team All-Pac-10 honor with a .349 average and eight homers in 62 games. He was converted to a reliever and went 1-1 in seven appearances with a 1.35 ERA.

In Davis' final season at ASU, his average jumped to .385 and his home run total to 16, both good for third best on the team, in 51 games. As a team, the Sun Devils' fell short of a second straight College World Series appearance when they ran into eventual champion Fresno State in the Super Regionals.

"You can always look back and say we could've done this, we could've done that," Davis says. "They were hot and we didn't play that well and they capitalized on it. They were just hot at the right time."

Davis actually held opponents to the lowest batting average of all ASU pitchers as a junior and tied for a team high with four saves, but his style of pitching led most teams to consider him as a hitter on draft day.

"I just threw fastballs," he says. "Not every pitcher's just going to throw fastballs. I was kind of different, I liked to challenge hitters and some pitchers don't."

Still, if the Cyclones play a marathon game, Davis wouldn't mind taking the mound:" I told Fonzie if you ever need me, go ahead. He started laughing."

On draft day, which fell in between the Regionals and Super Regionals, Davis watched the telecast with his teammates. He knew the Mets had interest in him, but he didn't feel any relief until the Mets finally called his name.

"It was a great feeling to finally know that I can stop thinking about the draft," he recalls. "I knew what team I was going to and I just had my future."

Part II follows tomorrow

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