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    HomeSportChase Davis drafted No. 21 by Cardinals in 2023 MLB Draft

    Chase Davis drafted No. 21 by Cardinals in 2023 MLB Draft

    ST. LOUIS — Having mined three of the best players out of the high school class of 2020 in big league slugger Jordan Walker and elite prospects Masyn Winn and Tink Hence, the Cardinals went back to that well again three years later for their first-round pick of Sunday’s MLB Draft.

    Chase Davis, one of the nation’s top high school players in 2020 who wasn’t selected when the pandemic-affected draft was shortened to five rounds, became the No. 21 selection of the first round by the Cardinals on Sunday night. Davis, 21 years old and 5 1/2 months older than Walker, turned himself into one of baseball’s top prospects with a junior season at the University of Arizona during which he hit .362 with 21 home runs and 74 RBIs.

    Most importantly to the Cardinals, Davis slashed his strikeout rate from 22.8 percent as a sophomore to 14.4 percent this past season as a junior. The Cardinals followed Davis closely from his high school days to Arizona, where he blossomed into a star slugger.

    “With his arc, Chase is someone we’ve been following since high school,” Cardinals assistant GM/director of scouting Randy Flores said. “The summer before [the 2020 high school season], he had a tremendous showcase circuit and was someone we liked.

    “I do remember [in 2020] that as a strategy we wanted to be ready if the industry kind of shied away from the high school base, and [Davis] was one of those players we tagged,” Flores added. “That being said, you can’t draft all of them and we were excited to see his progression at the [University of Arizona].”

    As part of the MLB Develops Breakthrough Series that features top high school players, Davis developed friendships with Walker and Winn, who went on to become first- and sound-round picks by the Cardinals in 2020. Now, the three of them will unite with the Cardinals. Walker was MLB Pipeline’s top prospect heading into this season before graduating, while Winn is ranked as the Cardinals’ top prospect now.

    “Jordan and I played in the Breakthrough Series with [former White Sox manager] Jerry Manuel and those guys for three years, so I’m super excited to see Jordan again,” Davis said. “It’s super exciting and a blessing heading to the Cardinals. [Teaming with Walker] was a long time ago, 2020, and it’s been a [wild] ride.”

    For years, the Cardinals have had to mine under-the-radar talents because they haven’t picked in the top 10 since 1998 and haven’t fallen into the top 15 since 2008. They feel they got a steal in Davis, a lefty with a stellar throwing arm who can play any of the three outfield slots.

    “When you try to get to know someone without being in the dugout with them, people almost unanimously rave about Chase Davis as a person,” Flores said. “They remark on his growth, maturity, love of the game and his tremendous work ethic. I’m so confident he’ll do everything in his power to be the best player possible. After speaking to him and hearing him say, ‘Man, I can’t wait to get to work,’ that was something that I was beyond pleased to hear.”

    The Cardinals had just one first-day pick after forfeiting their second-round pick when they signed free-agent catcher Willson Contreras away from the Cubs last December. As compensation after offering Contreras a qualifying offer, the Cubs were awarded the No. 68 pick that originally belonged to the Cardinals.   

    The 20-round MLB Draft continues Monday and Tuesday. Rounds 3-10 will be held on Monday, beginning at 1 p.m. CT. On Tuesday, Rounds 11-20 will be conducted, also starting at 1 p.m. CT. The Cardinals’ first pick on Monday will be the 90th overall selection.

    The 21st pick carries a slot value of $3.6 million — a bump over the $3.1 million the Cards’ No. 22 overall pick [Cooper Hjerpe] carried in 2022. The Cardinals have a bonus pool of $6,375,100 for this year’s draft. Teams can exceed that bonus pool — as the Cardinals have historically done — but they face a financial penalty for exceeding their bonus pool.

    Flores, who feels Davis compares favorably to former Rockies All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, said another thing that drew the Cardinals to Davis was the outfielder’s high baseball IQ and how he made changes to improve his swing.

    “As I got older and more mature, I got more disciplined in the zone,” said Davis, who cut his strikeouts from 66 to 40 in his final college season. “Freshman and sophomore years were learning curves. I knew my sophomore stats weren’t going to play at the next level with swing and miss. I asked myself, ‘What am I going to do to lessen it?’ I did some work in the offseason and took it out there this spring.”

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