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Brewers’ Khris Davis Looks To Prove His Power Is Real

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MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 18: Khris Davis #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park on August 18, 2013 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Khris Davis (Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

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By Rich Arleo

CBS Local Sports, in our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature, profiles one young player from each Major League Baseball team leading up to opening day.

Khris Davis, Outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers

2013 season (minors): 69 G, 243 AB, .255 BA, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, .822 OPS

2013 season (majors): 56 G, 136 AB, .279 BA, 11 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB, .949 OPS

The Brewers’ farm system often gets criticized, and 26-year-old outfielder Khris Davis is generally overlooked as a legitimate prospect. But when you examine Davis’ career numbers in the minor leagues and what he did in his short stint in the majors last year, the slights seem undeserved.

Simply put, Davis has power. The left fielder and former seventh-round pick of the Brewers made his Rookie league debut in 2009 but played in just 11 games. It was at Single-A Wisconsin in the Midwest League where Davis first made his presence felt. There he hit 22 home runs and stole 17 bases while hitting .280 with a .897 OPS.

He didn’t slow down much the following season, even with two promotions, as he posted an identical .280 average with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 125 games between High-A and Double-A. In 2012, Davis split his season between Double-A and Triple-A Nashville and had arguably his best season. Between the leagues — including a short stint in Rookie ball — Davis knocked 15 home runs in just 82 games with a career-high .350 average and 1.055 OPS.

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Heading into last season, Davis was an afterthought; that is until Ryan Braun’s PED suspension. Suddenly, the Brewers needed a left fielder. That’s when they turned to Davis, who was still doing well in Triple-A, and he answered the call. Davis brought his power to the Major Leagues, hitting 11 home runs in only 136 at-bats. An impressive 21 of his 38 hits went for extra bases, helping him finish with a .949 OPS.

Many scouts scoffed at the display of power, noting that Davis had previously hit 13 home runs in 281 at-bats in Triple-A. And while continuing to hit home runs at the rate Davis did in the Majors last year would be tough, the fact of the matter is Davis’ power is real. He may not have 35-40 home run potential, but he could easily top 20 home runs in a full season — something not many big leaguers can do.

The Brewers showed they believe in Davis by trading Norichika Aoki in the offseason. With Ryan Braun moving to right field upon his return, left field is wide open. Look for Davis to thrive in 2014 with a full season as a starter.

Next up: Junior Lake, Chicago Cubs

Check out our Fantasy Baseball Preview, breaking down the top players at each position.

Rich Arleo is a Marist College alum who has been a professional writer and editor since graduating in 2010. Find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more of his sports musings.

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