The Rays announced Wednesday that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Johnny Davis from Double-A Montgomery. Left-hander Hoby Milner was placed on the 60-day injured list to create a roster spot. Milner is dealing with a “cervical neck injury” and will be shut down for at least three weeks before he’s reevaluated.
Davis, 29, will get his first look at the Major League level — a reality that would’ve seemed difficult to fathom even a month ago. Davis only signed with the Rays on Aug. 29, having spent the entire season to that point playing in the Mexican League. The former Brewers draft pick (2013, 22nd round) played only nine games of affiliated ball in 2018, splitting the rest of that season between the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association and los Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos in the Mexican League.
Davis’ appeal to Tampa Bay is easy to see; he swiped 54 bases in 106 games in Mexico this season and has racked up 82 steals in just 161 career games in the Mexican League. He’s also appeared in parts of three seasons at the Double-A level (including five games with the Rays’ affiliate this year) and stolen 71 bases in 207 games. Davis a career .304/.364/.424 hitter in Mexico and a .262/.314/.337 hitter in Double-A, but his abilities with the bat are secondary, at best. He’ll give the Rays a valuable pinch-running/base-stealing option late in games as the club looks to hang onto the top Wild Card spot in the American League.
The Rays currently hold a 1.5-game lead over the Athletics for that top spot, with Oakland leading Cleveland by a mere half game for that second position. Taking an extra base late in games can prove vital — just ask the 2014-15 Royals — and Davis seems likely to take on a Terrance Gore/Quintin Berry-esque specialty role for at least the remainder of the regular season and perhaps for the postseason as well. Davis will indeed be postseason-eligible, given that he joined the organization prior to Sept. 1.