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Remembering Butch Davis

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In the sprit of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, an old school failed prospect.

Butch Davis
Butch Davis
1985 Topps

The 2013 season has been marked by the continued failure of once heralded top prospects Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. While it has been painful to watch, they're not the first Royals prospects who failed. Nor will they be the last.

As a sponsored post by Topps, I was asked to write about a baseball card from the 1980s. I did a quick Google search and stumbled upon the card you see above. Butch Davis. One of the first failed prospects of my baseball consciousness.

How fitting.

Davis was a 12th round selection of the Royals in the 1980 draft out of East Carolina University. He began in pro career in the rookie Gulf Coast League and hit immediately. He made his way up the organizational ladder and never stopped hitting.

1980 22 Royals Blue GULF Rk KCR 61 270 235 46 74 17 4 2 35 31 4 29 36 .315 .385 .447 .832 105
1981 23 Fort Myers FLOR A KCR 126 527 464 89 139 17 10 13 70 44 3 54 99 .300 .373 .463 .836 215
1982 24 Jacksonville SOUL AA KCR 122 505 450 64 115 18 4 10 57 17 9 46 101 .256 .327 .380 .707 171
1983 25 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-AAA KCR 136 566 502 78 159 25 10 19 84 42 12 54 114 .317 .380 .520 .900 261
1983 25 Jacksonville SOUL AA KCR 90 375 331 51 105 15 7 14 63 29 7 36 78 .317 .378 .532 .910 176
1983 25 Omaha AA AAA KCR 46 191 171 27 54 10 3 5 21 13 5 18 36 .316 .384 .497 .881 85
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/6/2013.

For whatever reason, the Royals had Davis open the 1983 season in Double-A, repeating a level. However, he quickly mastered Double-A and was moved to Omaha. Davis arrived in Kansas City in August of 1983. Willie Wilson landed on the DL with a broken knuckle and the Royals recalled their young outfielder as a replacement. He picked up a ground rule double in his debut and proceeded to hit .344/.359/.508 with two doubles, two home runs and six triples in 130 plate appearances.

Davis' rise through the minors and his performance in the majors at the end of 1983 gave many Royals fans excitement for what was to come. Surely, he would be part of the next great wave of talent, taking residence in left field with Willie Wilson in center with fellow prospect John Morris in right for years and years.

With Amos Otis leaving the team as a free agent and with Willie Wilson suspended at the start of the 1984 season, the Royals penciled Davis in as their starting left fielder. He got off to a terrible start, hitting just .154/.228/.192 in his first 15 games. He lost his job to Jorge Orta and was sent to Omaha in early May. He hit well enough in Omaha to get a return invitation, but struggled once again. By the next season, the Royals had soured on their once top prospect.

Davis was optioned to Omaha at the end of spring training in 1985 and never appeared in the majors wearing a Royals uniform. He kicked around baseball until the mid 1990s when he had a couple cups of coffee with the Rangers. In addition to those two teams at the bookends of his career, he also played for the Pirates, Orioles and Dodgers. Morris (who was supposed to be part of that killer outfield) was dealt to St. Louis for Lonnie Smith. Morris never amounted to much of a major leaguer, either.

Funny how that happens.

THIS IS THE POST SCRIPT ADD TO THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST Topps Archives Baseball is a celebration of the 70s, 80s and 90s, what many consider to be the glory years of card collecting. If you collected Topps Baseball Cards during these years then you will love Topps Archives Baseball. Look for autographs and memorabilia cards from today’s stars and your favorite retired players on classic Topps card designs.