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MailTribune.com
  • WCL BASEBALL

    Already a hit in Medford

    In short order, Davidson has become a prime offensive threat for WCL's Rogues
  • It didn't take long for Kevin Davidson to have an impact on the summer slate for the Medford Rogues.
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    • KEVIN DAVIDSON
      WHO: A 6-foot-4, 215-pound designated hitter for the Medford Rogues.
      • WHAT: The Yucaipa, Calif., native entered Wednesday's game leading the Rogues with a .333 batting average and stands ...
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      KEVIN DAVIDSON
      WHO: A 6-foot-4, 215-pound designated hitter for the Medford Rogues.

      • WHAT: The Yucaipa, Calif., native entered Wednesday's game leading the Rogues with a .333 batting average and stands second in RBIs (nine) in only nine games played. Davidson has played the last two collegiate seasons at UC Riverside.
      • up next: Sunday, 5:05 p.m., Medford at Klamath Falls.
  • It didn't take long for Kevin Davidson to have an impact on the summer slate for the Medford Rogues.
    Since joining the West Coast League collegiate wood-bat baseball team midway through the first month of play, Davidson has been on a tear to quickly develop into one of the team's top offensive threats.
    Entering Wednesday's game against Wenatchee, Davidson was hitting a team-best .333 and was second only to Caleb Palensky in RBIs with nine despite playing in seven fewer games than his teammate.
    "I'm just having fun," the Yucaipa, Calif., native said of his fast start in Medford. "It's a great environment for me, a great team with great coaches and just a great place to play baseball."
    The 6-foot-4, 215-pound designated hitter has shown a penchant for clutch hits and steady power, boasting a .533 slugging percentage as he also sits tied for the team lead in home runs at two with Palensky and Ryan Teel.
    None of Davidson's numbers nine games into his run with the Rogues have come as a surprise to Medford manager Josh Hogan, who didn't hesitate to put him in the lineup once he arrived from his sophomore campaign at UC Riverside.
    "It's the KD that I know and I recruited so I expected all that stuff out of him," said Hogan. "Last year I got the opportunity to coach him over at Klamath Falls and I saw a lot of good positive things out of his bat, plus he's just a real good guy."
    "We've been struggling with runners in scoring position," added the manager, "so it's nice to have a bat like him in the lineup."
    As a member of the Gems last summer, Davidson hit .267 with three homers, nine doubles and 21 RBIs in 37 games. Both player and coach think that experience has him poised for even better things this summer, albeit in a less power-friendly ballpark.
    "Since it's my second season (in the WCL)," said Davidson, "it's definitely a lot better and I'm used to everything. I'm more used to the pitchers and I can just go out there and have fun."
    One aspect Hogan has already noticed above last season is the poise in which Davidson is carrying himself with in and out of the batter's box.
    "For him it was mostly a mentality thing that held him back last year," said Hogan. "His swing was there but he'd just carry negative at-bats to the next one. Now, it looks like he's learned to be more mentally tough and get to the next pitch, and his success has just really shown from it. There's a lot more confidence in him this time."
    Davidson agreed with that assessment as he talked about his approach at the plate these days.
    "I just try and go up there and take my same swing every time, no matter what, and don't let the pitcher change what I do best," he said. "I just try to go out there every night and treat it like it's a brand new night with the plate clean."
    As much as anything, though, Davidson is one of a number of Rogues players happy to be getting the playing opportunities provided by the summer season. He got 53 at-bats as a freshman at UC Riverside and only added 50 to that this past season at UC Riverside. That lack of playing time is a key reason why Davidson said he'll be transferring to play next season at NCAA Division II Cal State Monterey Bay.
    "I'm just trying to get a lot of at-bats this summer and just keep getting better," said Davidson. "The more experienced you are and the more pitches you've seen, the better player you're going to be."
    Lofty aspirations are nothing new in the Davidson family, where older brother Matt was a first round selection (35th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009. Matt Davidson currently plays for the Triple-A Reno Aces and is hitting .301 with 10 homers, 21 doubles and 46 RBIs through 74 games. The power-hitting third baseman is ranked third on the 2013 list of the Diamondbacks' top prospects.
    "He's my idol," said the younger Davidson. "I try and follow everything he does. He's a perfect example for me."
    "I'd say we're pretty similar," he added of the comparison. "We both have big powerful swings and can drive the ball out of here but we still put the bat on the ball well, too."
    Having someone so close to him that he can talk baseball with and swap training tips with has been instrumental, according to Kevin Davidson.
    "We always talk about our approaches and our swings and he just helps me out nonstop," Davidson said of his older brother. "I can't say enough about him."
    The same goes for the current situation Davidson finds himself in at the newly renovated Harry & David Field in Medford's first season with a WCL team.
    "I like everything (General Manager Chuck Heeman) did with the ballpark here and getting a lot of fans out here makes it really fun," he said. "And with great teammates and coaches, that just gives us the best environment to play baseball in and get better every day. We've got all the parts here, we just need to get them all working. A lot of new guys have been coming in but I think our team's here and set now so watch out, the Rogues are gonna roll."
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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