Better Late Than Never - The Emergence of D.J. Davis & Dwight Smith Jr.

By Rob Fai / Vancouver Canadians | April 17, 2014 8:08 PM ET

(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - Perhaps it's just a case of 'better late than never' when it comes to former Vancouver Canadians outfielders D.J. Davis and Dwight Smith Jr.

Davis, 20, was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft back in 2012 while Smith Jr., 21, was taken in the first round in 2011. 

Both felt the pressure to produce immediately and both came from a pedigree of former professional baseball fathers. Wayne David (D.J.'s father) hit .223 in four seasons within the Toronto Blue Jays Minor League system while Dwight Smith Jr. was born at about the midway point of his father's nine seasons in the Major Leagues as Dwight Sr. played for the Cubs, Angels, Orioles and Braves before retiring in 1996.

Personality wise, Smith comes with an infectious smile and easy going demeanour while Davis is about as soft spoken an individual as you'll come across in the outgoing sport of baseball. Both have pedigree and both faced adversity early on when the numbers didn't come as easy as some may have hoped.

Smith Jr. and Davis shared the outfield here in Vancouver during the 2012 season, and took their lumps side-by-side.

In five games for the Canadians, Davis hit a paultry .167 (3-for-18) with six strikeouts and a pair of defensive gaffs that keep fans biting their nails on balls hit out to centerfield. Smith Jr. hit .175 in 18 games for Vancouver (11-for-63) with three doubles and a triple. 

The numbers and situational hitting was slow to start and heading into 2013, it looked as if the Blue Jays brain trust had rolled the dice on these two young prospects and come up craps on both accounts.

Baseball has an amazing way of balancing the books with a little seasoning and patience, and between the second half of last summer combined with the blazing starts to the 2014 campaign that both Davis and Smith Jr. are having - it's clear to see that maybe, just maybe, the outfield does still have a few angels in it.

Smith was named Most Valuable Player of the Lansing Lugnuts in 2013 hitting .284 (120-for-423) with seven home runs and 46 RBI. Davis, just 19 at the time, hit a slightly more humbling .240 (54-for-225) but showed flashes of brilliance on the basepaths with 13 stolen bases and nabbed six home runs to go along with his seven triples.

This season, through April 17th, Davis and Smith Jr. are hitting exactly the same average wise. Through 11 games, Davis, now with Lansing of the Midwest League, is pacing himself at .333 (13-for-39) with four doubles and a home run. Smith Jr, in Dunedin of the Florida State League, is hitting .333 (17-for-51) with three doubles and a pair of home runs.

The buzz is back for these two former first-rounder picks and more importantly, they have matured both physically and mentally and look to have found a place within the Blue Jays system.

Perhaps it's just a case of 'better late than never' when it comes to former Vancouver Canadians outfielders D.J. Davis and Dwight Smith Jr.


This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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