Editor's Note: Ike Davis and Dennis Raben were both taken as Top 100 overall picks of the 2008 Draft. Both were parts of NCAA teams that played difficult 2008 schedules. It's easy to say Davis was drafted earlier than Raben (18th overall vs. 66th) so he must be the better prospect, but as Mike Rogers -- one of our resident college experts -- explains in his breakdown of the two, there's more to it than that...
Contact and Plate Discipline
Raben had a 21.8% strikeout rate and 12.3% walk rate in 2007. He improved upon those rates during his 2008 college season (17.7% K, 15.6% BB).
Davis had a 14.0% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate in 2007. He improved upon those rates moderately during his 2008 college season (13.6% K, 12.4% BB).
So Raben strikes out a lot more than Davis, which is a concern as far as his transition to the professional game. Raben has an advantage over Davis in walks. Next.
Raben: 2007=.241 Adjusted IsoP; 2008=.246
Davis: 2007=.191 Adjusted IsoP; 2008=.352
Davis really broke out as a junior in the power department, while Raben made minimal strides. If you consider Raben to be a .250 IsoP hitter in college, that puts him in between my "good" tier (.222) and my "great" tier (.299). Davis' 2007 vs. 2008 splits are so substantial that it's hard to gauge his true power potential. This report from PG Crosschecker says that Davis had a wrist problem in 2007 that hindered his power during that collegiate season. It came back again during his time that summer in the Cape Cod League, which eventually forced him to shut it down for surgery to remove bone chips. That same report give some conflicting viewpoints on Davis' swing that we'll get into later.
Raben: 2007=-0.2, 2008=3.17
Davis: 2007=2.2, 2008=4.5
My speed score is callibrates as follows: -5 is terrible, 0 is bad, 5 is average, 10 is good, 15 is great. So, both guys are below-average or average in my speed score. Davis has the advantage in my score, which aligns with scouting reports that I've read on the two.
Raben played at Miami (FL) and Davis at Airzona State. To neutralize the 2007 numbers in my system, I used four year park factors for each team (2005-2007). I used 2006-2008 for '08.
Miami: 106 park factor in 07; 111 in 2008.
ASU: 107 in 2007; 112 in 2008.
I also adjust for the competition faced. A higher number means better competition. Miami's '07 and '08 competition factors were 113.1 and 123.7 and ASU's were 119.5 and 122.7. So, both guys played in almost as similar environments and competition as one could hope for over the last few years, especially considering they were at schools on opposite sides of the country.
Raben's lauded for his raw power. He might have had the most power in the 2008 draft class. But it comes with a price. As his strikeout rate bears out, he's going to have problems making contact. I view Raben in a Three True Outcomes role (lots of HR's, K's, and BB's). One report I read said potential 40 HR, light-tower power. He's currently an outfielder, but his arm is reportedly mediocre which means that, along with his thick frame, likely relegates him to 1st base in the future.
Ike Davis had (at the time of the draft) room to grow. Conversely from Raben, Davis' swing does lend itself to high contact, but not a ton of power, according to Alex Eisenberg of The Hardball Times. He feels that Davis' hands get too far out in front which fails to let the ball travel into his happy zone -- for the lack of a better term. However, the PG Crosschecker scouting report from earlier notes a very balanced, upper-cut swing which shows great power potential. Unfortunately he struggled in the Alaskan Summer League in 2006 and lost valuable time to prove what he could do with wood bats in the Cape Cod league due to his wrist surgery. However, he was sitting in the lower-90's when he took the mound for the Sun Devils as a left-handed closer, which means he does profile as a potential right fielder with his athletic frame and above-average to potentially 'plus' arm strength.
Basically, Raben's got the massive advantage over Davis in power. Davis wins in contact. I'd call them close to even in plate discipline. Davis is the better base runner of the two -- more athletic -- and, in my opinion, more likely to be a professional outfielder, where Raben's probably better suited for first base.
I'd take Raben's skill set overall, as he's a potential average defender at first base, though he'll get the shot in the outfield. It also doesn't hurt that he destroyed in short-season ball last year (.404 wOBA, 112 PA) compared to Davis' short-season struggles (.293 wOBA, 235 PA).