State College Spikes

From temporary contract in Cape Cod to pro deal, Spikes infielder enjoying productive summer

Cumberland Valley graduate Matt Davis joined the Spikes on July 14 after an impressive run in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Davis was leading the league in home runs for the Brewster Whitecaps before signing a professional contract.
Cumberland Valley graduate Matt Davis joined the Spikes on July 14 after an impressive run in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Davis was leading the league in home runs for the Brewster Whitecaps before signing a professional contract. nthomas@centredaily.com

Matt Davis started this summer playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League on a temporary contract with the Brewster Whitecaps.

He didn’t know how long his stay would last. Brewster manager Jamie Shevchik said temporary-contract players often take the place of players on full-time contracts until they arrive from the College World Series. Other spots may open when a player decides to sign with a major league team after being drafted or when a player can’t make it due to injury.

Once a full-time player arrives, a temporary-contract player is sent home. Davis emerged as one of the league’s top hitters and turned his temporary opportunity into a full-time contract after a handful of players couldn’t join Brewster due to injury.

His standout performance ensured his stay would be temporary anyway.

“The next thing you know it, I signed a contract to play professional baseball,” Davis said. “Everything happened pretty quick.”

It all happened in about one month.

The Cape Cod League season started June 10. Shevchik said Davis earned full-time status in early July.

By July 14, Davis was the latest addition to the State College Spikes roster after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cumberland Valley graduate hit .143 with two RBIs in his first five games for the Spikes.

“Little by little, he’s going to contribute even more,” Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “He’s just getting his feet wet. Of course, his adrenaline’s still working, he’s still nervous.”

Rodriguez sees a player who can swing the bat.

Davis was productive in three years at Virginia Commonwealth. The 5-foot-10 infielder hit .300 for his career and led the Rams with a .321 batting average last season.

Shevchik, who recruits his own team for Brewster, knew about Davis. He’s the head coach at Keystone College in La Plume, Pa., about two to three hours away from Davis’ hometown of Mechanicsburg. Shevchik talked to the VCU coaching staff and offered a temporary contract to the draft-eligible player.

Davis went undrafted, but his performance with Brewster caught the attention of major league teams.

“For amateur baseball, it’s the biggest stage in the world to showcase your talents,” Shevchik said of the Cape Cod League.

In 23 games in the wood-bat league, Davis hit .297 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs. He owned a batting average above .300 for the majority of his time with Brewster, and he was leading the league in home runs before signing with the Cardinals.

Shevchik heard from about 12 teams about Davis. Scouts came to games just to see him play, trying to figure out if what they saw in person verified what the statistics said.

“For him to put up those type of numbers against this type of competition, I think a lot of people were scratching their head of how they missed this kid,” Shevchik said.

For him to put up those type of numbers against this type of competition, I think a lot of people were scratching their head of how they missed this kid.

Brewster Whitecaps manager Jamie Shevchik

When Davis wasn’t one of the 1,216 players selected in this year’s draft, he thought he’d be going back to school for his senior year.

“I never even thought about a free-agent deal as a junior,” Davis said. “I never even heard of it happening, and I didn’t realize I was going to be in the Cape for as long as I was, either.”

Davis made the most of it.

Playing in front of 20-30 scouts every night, he went from overlooked to signing a professional contract.

One month changed the course of his career.

“It was really humbling,” Davis said. “... I’m excited to see where the rest of the summer goes.”

Ryne Gery: 814-231-4679, @rgery

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