Matt Davidson's 2012 season is a textbook example in the ascension of a prospect.
The D-backs' No. 4 prospect went from a first-round pick to a Top 100 prospect on the strength of a terrific 2012 campaign. Davidson batted .261 with a career-high 23 homers and 73 RBIs for Double-A Mobile. He capped that with a playoff performance that netted him the Southern League Championship Series MVP.
His performance jumped him into MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list and has put him on the cusp of the big leagues. On the verge of Spring Training, Davidson, who grew up near San Bernardino in Redlands, Calif., talked about 2012 and what it means to be close to fulfilling his dream.
MiLB.com: You cracked a lot of top prospect lists, made the All-Star team and were the Finals MVP. Would you call 2012 your best year?
Davidson: I would say so. I felt I learned the most last year. It's definitely a great honor to be part of that, but I don't want to be a prospect for very long. I want to be in the big leagues. It's also motivation to get to the next level. I don't like to pay attention to a lot of that stuff. It's definitely cool to be part of that, but there's more work to be done.
MiLB.com: How exciting was your playoff experience?
Davidson: It's a lot of fun; it's where you want to be at the end of the year. We struggled in the second half as a team, but it was all good. We got hot in the playoffs right when we wanted to and we took it to the end.
MiLB.com: You've improved every year since being drafted, what's been the key to that?
Davidson: I think I want to give credit to the Diamondbacks and all the coaches. They have a good staff to help us move along and learn from our mistakes. Playing time, I think that's the biggest thing you could ever use to get better. Last year was my first full year at third and that helped me out a lot.
I think just playing every day and learning from your mistakes and getting reps. Just getting older is a huge part of it. Getting older and learning who I am as a player. Learning -- why do I do this when I swing, and when I get in trouble, what do I do? What things work and click for me?
MiLB.com: What are you looking forward to this season?
Davidson: Everything there is. It's going to be really cool working with [Martin] Prado and [Eric] Chavez over there at third base. I've already talked to Chavez a little bit. I'm going to learn as much as I can from them and from everyone. This is a game of failures, if you can get in and out of your failures quicker.
MiLB.com: You mentioned Chavez, a guy who has won multiple Gold Gloves at third base. What have you talked about on the defensive side of things with him?
Davidson: We were talking a little bit about seeing the ball off the bat right away and going with your first instincts. So whatever step you take you stick with it, don't try to correct yourself. If your first instinct is to charge the ball, just charge it.
MiLB.com: How does it feel to be the full-time guy at third base and not have to share the position anymore?
Davidson: It felt great. My first two full seasons I had to prove myself that I was their guy at third base. I worked hard every day, but it was also a grind too because you're playing four days at third and four days not at third. My first full season we weren't even on the field the second four days, so I was playing third four days and DH four days.
It was really tough. It's so hit-or-miss over there. I could have gotten one or two ground balls in four days and then I'm off for four. There's nothing like game rep. Last year, being there a full year, day in and day out, I got to get into a rhythm. I made some errors to start, but after that I settled in and found my rhythm.
MiLB.com: It seems like you're active on Twitter. Do you enjoy the interaction with fans?
Davidson: I think it's a really cool concept that we're able to have. It's awesome to even have people as your fans. It's still surreal. As a kid, I was one of them, looking up to players like that. It's surreal having fans. Without fans we wouldn't have this game. They pay for our salaries.
MiLB.com: When did you know you wanted to be a baseball player?
Davidson: It was when I was 10 years old that I made that decision. I played all different kinds of sports -- there's no baseball history in my family before me. There were two Little Leagues in our city. I learned how to pitch from a local guru, and I just started pitching and I fell in love with it.
That's kind of how I got on the map in high school, through pitching. My favorite player growing up was Randy Johnson. I wore 51 everywhere. My favorite team, believe it or not, was the Diamondbacks. It's kind of cool -- I've got pictures, when I was super young, of his jersey and the World Series trophy when I was 11 or 12, and then I have one when there was a pre-Draft workout at that same spot. I'm looking forward to getting that third picture when I actually do get called up. It would be kind of a cool sequence.
MiLB.com: How did you go from pitching to playing third base?
Davidson: It was definitely a transition. I was a pitcher growing up, and my junior year they moved me to first, and after that my senior year I was over at third. I definitely have to thank the D-backs for drafting me as a third baseman and giving me an opportunity. I'll be the first one to say I wasn't very good at all. I could hit, but I basically was just standing over there with a glove. I definitely had to work hard and work with all the coaches. It was a transition. I always had a good arm and stuff and I was able to get the ball over, but its definitely been a struggle.
MiLB.com: What was it like to go from high school to the pros?
I was supposed to go to USC, and I felt like I was ready to go out and play in the pros. It was a huge transition. I signed right away. I got drafted on a Tuesday, graduated on Wednesday and Saturday I was in Arizona at a mini-camp. I was kind of thrown in there, and it was a lot for me to take. I struggled my first year in short-season. I got out there and played and it broke me in. I enjoyed it. It was a lot to handle coming out of high school.
MiLB.com: Do you think the struggles you went through in short-season were good for you in the long run?
Davidson: Definitely. Going out and playing 70 games, I got to play third base all the time too. I struggled, but it put me in the offseason where I had four to five months to go and work out and get better. I made a huge stride in my first offseason into the next year. It was good for me to see my weaknesses and work on them.