WVU’s Kyle Davis, Jackson Cramer taken in MLB draft

All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks WVU’s Kyle Davis was selected with the 451st overall pick in the 15th round of the 2017 MLB first-player draft by the Houston Astros on Wednesday.
Courtesy photo | WVU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATION WVU first baseman Jackson Cramer was drafted by the Washington Nationals with overall pick No. 1,063 in the 35th round of the 2017 MLB first-year player draft on Wednesday.

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia outfielder Kyle Davis was picked in the 15th round in the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday. The Houston Astros selected Davis, a junior from Cincinnati, No. 451 overall.

“He’s just gotten better,” Mountaineers hitting coach Steve Sabins said. “Every day he’s gotten a little better. He’s turned himself into a very good hitter. I think what pro scouts see is a hitting skill guy. He projects to hit a lot of barrels. That’s what he’s done in a few draft workouts. He’s a guy pro scouts see as someone who’s going to hit at a consistent level for a long time.”

Davis was a second-team All-Big 12 pick this past season. He batted .316 with 10 home runs, 13 doubles, three triples, 44 RBIs and 34 runs scored. He’s the 85th player in school history to be selected and the 15th in head coach Randy Mazey’s five seasons.

Davis now has a decision to make. He can return to a team that reached the NCAA’s postseason for the first time in 21 seasons or he can sign with the Astros and quickly enter their minor-league organization.

Sabins said the coaching staff has already talked to Davis about the decision-making process.

“There’s a difference in what we call a professional player and a prospect,” Sabins said. “A prospect in professional baseball is going to get a lot more opportunities to fail while a professional player is going to have a whole new draft class coming in the following year. You don’t want to be a roster-filler. You want to be a prospect with a legitimate opportunity to fail, succeed, develop, show off your tools and eventually make a career out of it.”

First baseman Jackson Cramer was picked in the 35th round by the Washington Nationals, and his mind was made up for him. Cramer, from Coppell, Texas, is a senior. The first baseman was pick No. 1,063 after hitting .270 and leading the team or tying for the lead with 11 home runs, 14 doubles and 46 RBIs.

Cramer and Davis were the only Mountaineers to appear in all 62 games, and Davis was the only player to start every game. He also won the team’s Iron Mountaineer prize for a series of strength showcases. He batted .352 as a freshman and .280 as a sophomore and jumped from four home runs to 10. Davis moved around in the field, too. He split starts at second base, left field and designated hitter in 2015 and third base, second base, designated hitter and left field last year. He started 59 games in left field and three at designated hitter this season.

“Changing positions helped him,” said Sabins, who also works with the outfielders. “He doesn’t really project to be a middle infielder in the professional game. His bat is more consistent with a corner outfielder’s. His arm got better. His routes in the outfield are very, very good. And his hitting skill is now starting to match up with the strength he’s gained.”

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