Mariner Farm Report -- Ex-Shortstop Given New Life As Pitcher

When the Seattle Mariners' full-season minor-league teams finished training in Peoria, Ariz., in April, Scott Davison was in California, pitching batting practice for his old Redondo Beach high-school coach.

A onetime shortstop in the Montreal system, he had been out of pro baseball since his release by the Expos after the 1991 season.

Davision, 23, Montreal's fourth-round draft pick in 1988, never made it past the Class A Florida State League as an infielder. Now he's pitching for the Class AAA Calgary Cannons. And he's rated a major-league prospect despite his 0-1 record and 22.50 earned-run average after two innings in the Pacific Coast League.

A telephone call in May led to Davison's signing with Seattle as a free agent.

"I called a Mariner scout I knew and asked him to watch me throw," Davison said. The scout was impressed by Davison's 90-plus mph fastball. He asked Davison to attend an open tryout camp the next week. Davison did. "They signed me the next day," he said.

After a brief period in extended spring training and a short-season minicamp in Peoria in June, Davison traveled north with the Bellingham Mariners. He had an 0-1 record, 1.80 earned-run average and seven saves in 13 Northwest League relief appearances, allowing 11 hits, striking out 21 and walking six in 15 innings.

Promoted to Appleton of the Midwest League just over two weeks ago, he was 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in four relief outings. After nine days with the Foxes, he was sent to the Cannons, whose pitching staff had been left short-handed because of Mariner callups.

What does Davison, who was a pitcher-shortstop in high school, have going for him?

"Great arm strength, the ability to throw strikes, two above-average major-league pitches," said Bryan Price, Bellingham pitching coach. "He only throws two pitches, a fastball - he's 92-95 on the (radar) gun - and slider. He began fiddling with a change just before he left for Appleton."

What Davison doesn't have, Price said, is "even average command of the slider.

"When that comes, to me he looks identical to (Kansas City's) David Cone. A little stockier (6 feet, 195 pounds), similar velocity. Obviously he lacks the experience and savvy that David Cone has. But the package is very similar; the decorations (are) just a little different."

In Davison's first relief appearance with Calgary last week, he said he gave up "two infield hits and a single" and took the loss as the Albuquerque Dukes won 11-9. The next night he relieved Erik Plantenberg with the bases loaded and yielded a first-pitch grand slam. The Dukes won 8-6.

"He struck out the next four guys," Calgary Manager Steve Smith said. "His fastball, 94 mph with movement, and slider are going to get a lot of guys out. He's going to help us. He's legit. He's going to have a chance some day."

Sizzling bats

-- Calgary Cannon outfielder Marc Newfield (.357, 19 homers, 76 runs batted in), who was named Pacific Coast League and minor-league batter of the week for his .615 spree Aug. 1-7, continued by going 12 for 29 in seven games.

-- Cannon catcher Bill Haselman was 12 for 20 in six games, with six home runs (five in four games) and 12 runs batted in.

-- Peoria shortstop Wilson Delgado went 10 for 20, boosting his average to an Arizona League-leading .352.

-- Bellingham catcher Jason Heath (.299) was 10 for 22.

-- A 10-for-23 week gave Riverside shortstop Desi Relaford (.348) the California League batting leadership.

-- Jacksonville second baseman Arquimedez Pozo, switched from the middle of the lineup into the leadoff spot, responded with a 17-for-30 spurt that raised his average from .278 to .302.

Around the farms

-- Riverside infielder Mike Hickey (.295) hit a three-run homer and right-hander Bob Wolcott (12-6) tied for the California League victory lead as the Pilots beat Bakersfield 6-3 on Friday night for their ninth straight win. . . . Appleton right-hander Matt Wagner (3-1, 0.67 ERA, 1 save) picked up two victories in three Midwest League relief appearances, allowing only six hits and two walks and striking out 13 in 8 2/3 shutout innings. . . . Peoria outfielder Mike Burrows (.304) was named Arizona League batter of the week for Aug. 1-7.

Shuttle talk

Calgary Manager Steve Smith has had to juggle his lineup almost daily because of the steady movement of players between the Mariners and Cannons on Seattle's "Calgary Shuttle."

The Cannons have been involved in more than 100 personnel transactions, "maybe 108 by now," Smith said.

"But that's been OK," Smith said. "Every guy sent down is working hard to get back up. And I've been able to tell a lot of guys they're going to the big leagues. I've told a couple of guys three times."