If you want to know about his rise from collegiate bench warmer to seventh-round Draft pick to presumptive starting left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, Khris Davis has a suggestion. "Call Rick Vanderhook," Davis suggests. "He's seen me at my lowest." His "lowest" was in 2007, when Davis was a highly-touted freshman at Cal State Fullerton and Vanderhook, who is now the Titans' head coach, was an assistant in charge of hitting and outfield play. Davis arrived with a reputation for power but hit zero home runs and slugged just .288 in 125 at-bats that season, and watched his playing time diminish. Flash forward to 2013 and Davis was slugging .596 in the Major Leagues, trailing only Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis (no relation) among big leaguers who logged at least 20 plate appearances. Khris Davis was so good as a fill-in for the suspended Ryan Braun that the Brewers are moving Braun to right field and giving Davis a chance to win everyday duties in left. "Khris had never failed before he got to college. Never," Vanderhook said. "It's hard. When you get to that next level, sometimes it's a completely different world." Vanderhook has a long history with the Davis family, playing against Khris' dad, Rodney, from the time they were 12 years old. Rodney Davis went on to play in the Minor Leagues for the Dodgers. Vanderhook played at Fullerton and then went straight into coaching, helping develop at least 17 hitters who went to the Major Leagues. He knew Davis could be special because of his "stupid" power, especially to the opposite field. Khris hit a lot of home runs in high school, and as you see with a lot of guys in professional baseball, it normally takes time to develop power [at more advanced levels]," Vanderhook said. "He had it, but I don't think he knew how to use it." Davis had no trouble winning power-on-power matchups against hard-throwing pitchers in high school, but had to learn to hit pitchers who could pitch in college.
Davis eyeing Brewers' left-field job
MLB.com | Feb 26