Usually, it is not a wise financial move for college juniors with an eye on the major league baseball draft to return to school for their senior seasons. They lose just about any leverage they have in negotiations with the team that drafts them. Juniors can always use the threat of returning to their college program to get a little extra dough. Seniors, however, have nowhere else to go and the scouts certainly know it.
Returning to school worked out OK for former Evans High School slugger Todd Greene. The 1989 GHSA State Player of the Year, Greene was selected by the Atlanta Braves out of high school but chose to go to Georgia Southern. In Statesboro, he blossomed into one of the best power hitters in NCAA history.
Going into his senior season for the Eagles, Greene had an outside chance to break the all-time college home run mark. Despite being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th round following his junior year, he elected to return to Statesboro for one final season. He had a terrific final year at GSU and was taken in the 13th round by the California Angels.
Now, another Columbia County product might be following in Greene’s footsteps: Greenbrier graduate T.D. Davis. Where he follows Greene is in his decision to return to Statesboro to play as a senior at Georgia Southern. It is obvious the 6-4, 235-pound outfielder has made the right decision.
Davis is putting together a year that has made big league clubs take notice. Through the Eagles’ first 40 games, Davis has emerged as the team’s undoubted leader. He has started all 40 contests and leads, or is second on the team, in all nine major offensive categories. His home run total of nine has him sixth in the Southern Conference and tied for 20th in the entire country. As a matter of fact, the rest of the team has combined to hit only 15 home runs all season.
Davis is not just hitting for power. He is second on the team with a .314 batting average and has also drawn 18 walks, which is also No. 2 for the Eagles. Not bad for a young man who hit just .204 as a sophomore at Georgia Perimeter Junior College in 2011. Back in 2010 he burst on the scene at Georgia Perimeter by hitting .350 with nine homers and 43 RBI, but he spent his second season mired in a slump.
He signed with GSU for his junior year and got back to the old T.D. Davis. He hit .308 as a junior in 2012 with five homers and six doubles and was one of the leaders for the Eagles’ offense.
Wanting to improve his power numbers and increase his draft possibilities, Davis turned to a man who had walked in his shoes: Todd Greene. He had made contact with his fellow Columbia County native when he was in Atlanta at Georgia Perimeter, so who better to call to get tips on hitting than a man who seemingly was born to hit a baseball?
The move has certainly paid off. Despite the fact that Georgia Southern has dropped eight games in a row to fall to 21-19 on the season, Davis’ improvement has been substantial.
As mentioned previously, he is at the top of almost every statistical category for the Eagles. He leads the team in home runs with nine, runs scored (34), hits (49), doubles (11), total bases (87), and slugging percentage (.558). He is second on the team in batting average (.314), RBI (35) and walks (18).
The walks are a key. His more-disciplined approach is one of the reasons Davis has been able to post better numbers. He is simply getting better pitches to hit because he is being more selective.
People are taking notice. Minor League Rundown (www.minorleaguerundown.com) recently featured Davis as one of the Top 60 hitters in college baseball. The Web site compiles the list each year in preparation for the June amateur draft. I am not sure when Davis will be drafted, but prior to this year the question was would he be drafted. That debate seems to be over, thanks to his solid senior campaign in Statesboro.
Davis’s former Greenbrier teammate Ben Morgan has also started all 40 games for Georgia Southern. The 5-11, 175 pound junior is hitting .269 with four homers and 24 RBI. He is tied with Davis for the team lead with 34 runs scored, and paces the squad in stolen bases with 18. He also has nine doubles and two triples.