(Source: Cincinnati Reds)
The Cincinnati Reds signed Australian outfielder Drew Davies to a Minor League deal on December 12, Eric Bainar of Baseball.com.au reported.
Davies, 18 is a left-handed hitter that is 6-foot-4, 175 pounds. In 2022, Davies was 16 and tried out for the Australian U18 team and was cut. “It’s uncommon for 16-year olds to make the U-18 team,” Eric Bainar said.
“That experience showed me where I needed to be, where I wanted to go, and how I had to work harder to get there,” says Davies.
Davies’ progress during that 15 month period after the 2022 U-18 World Cup, was crucial for him to get recognized by MLB clubs. Davis played for South Australia in the 2023 U-18 National Championships in January 2023. Davis had a great performance in the U-18 National Championships going 17-for-27 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 9 games. At this tournament former MLB player and Reds scout Donald Lutz was in attendance.
Donald Lutz was a utility player for the Reds from 2013-2014. He hit one home run in 109 MLB at-bats.
“I really liked his swing,” Lutz said. “It looked really good. I liked his aggression. He’s got a good body. He has the tools to be a really good baseball player. When it comes down to it, the Reds think he’s got what it takes.”
Baseball South Australia’s high performance manager Austin Gallagher and Lutz helped Davies in his signing with the Reds. Gallagher was a former utility player in the Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League system. He played with them for six seasons from 2007-2012 and made it to the Dodgers High-A affiliate the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
“He proved he’s one of the top talents in Australia,” Gallager said at the U-18 Australian Youth Championship that was played in Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney, Australia.
“He works really hard and is consistent with it. The positive about Drew is you can’t really tell if he’s going good or going bad; he always stays consistent with his approach and how he goes about things.”
Davies was also selected to play in the 2023 World Cup for Australia, but was unable to play due to a broken finger.
Davies was introduced to the game by former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect and Adelaide Giants pitcher Nick Hutchings. Hutchings signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates in 2012. He pitched in their Minor League system for three seasons from 2014-2016. He made it to their Triple-A affiliate the Bristol Pirates. His Minor League stats are 81 innings, 56 strikeouts, and an ERA of 5.56.
He had two separate stints in the Australian Baseball League with the Adelaide Giants from 2012-2014 and 2016-2018. He pitched 29 innings with them and struck out 34 batters in his Australian career.
Davies played tee-ball at Hutchings local clubs in the Southern Districts of Australia. Davies continued to play for Southern Districts and helped them end a twenty-year finals drought in 2022.
Hutchings was impressed with Davies’ left-handed swing and noted his power to the opposite field. With Davies’ swing and size got a lot of people interested in him.
“They’ve been huge, I wouldn’t be here without them,” he says. “Nick Hutchings has been a big influence, all my charter coaches, all the club coaches like Brendan, Jeremy and Mark. I have to thank them a lot,” Davies said.
There are three other Southern Australians, currently playing professional MLB-affiliated baseball. The players are infielder Curtis Mead from the Tampa Bay Rays, LHP Jack O’Loughlin from the Oakland Athletics, and RHP Riley Yeatman from the San Diego Padres. There are currently 30 Australian players in the minor leagues with MLB organizations. The most notable player is free agent reliever Liam Hendriks.
Mead made his MLB debut with the Rays this season. He had one home run and five RBI in 89 at-bats. Jack O’Loughlin pitched with the Detroit Tigers last season and reached their Triple-A affiliate the Toledo Mud Hens. He elected for free agency after the 2023 season, and signed a Minor-League contract with the Oakland Athletics. His Minor League Baseball career stats in five seasons are 318 innings, 294 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.59. Riley Yeatman pitched in the Arizona complex league in 2022 for the San Diego Padres Rookie Ball affiliate. He was placed on the developmental list in 2023.
Liam Hendriks is a 13-year MLB veteran and is a three-time All-Star. He won the American Reliever of the year award named after Yankees Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera twice. Hendriks made his MLB debut in 2011 with the Minnesota Twins and has pitched with the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, and Chicago White Sox. Hendriks has battled cancer and various injuries throughout his career. Hendriks had his 2023 season cut short in April, due to Tommy John Surgery. His career numbers are 650 innings, 727 strikeouts, 116 saves, and an ERA of 3.82.
Davies will look to follow in their footsteps when he reports to the Reds spring training in March, 2024.