Crenshaw, Davis chase big-league dreams along divergent paths SanTan Sun News

Crenshaw, Davis chase big-league dreams along divergent paths

July 10th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Crenshaw, Davis chase big-league dreams along divergent paths
Sports and Recreation
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By Brian Benesch

Contributor

For a couple of former East Valley high school baseball players from campuses less than four miles apart, the thrill of their recent selection in baseball’s amateur draft is the same, but their paths to a big-league roster may be many miles farther apart.

For former Perry High and Glendale Community College standout Wacy Crenshaw, being selected by the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks, even in the 34th round, was a dream come true.

Crenshaw faces long odds to the majors, but he doesn’t need to look far for inspiration. Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Conine all were drafted later than the 34th round and all had long big-league careers.

The wait wasn’t nearly as long for Chandler Basha High slugger Brennen Davis. The Chicago Cubs, whose spring training home is in Mesa, made him their second-round pick (62nd overall), and Davis signed a $1.1 million contract on June 16.

Davis hit .444, including three home runs and 20 RBIs in his senior season with the Bears. The outfielder showed big-league potential, but his draft projections were all over the board.

“It could’ve been anywhere from round three to round 20,” said Jim Schilling, Davis’ high school coach. “I was sniffing around ,and all the scouts answered that he was a wild card. We knew he had a chance to go pretty high because of his tools.

“When he was picked in the second, it was a huge source of pride for our school.”

Davis’ rise from “wild card” to top prospect occurred after he chose to focus solely on baseball. The 6-foot-4 Davis stopped playing basketball after his junior season.

According to Schilling, that made all the difference.

“His game took off to another level after he trimmed it down to one sport,” Schilling said.

“We had 30-plus scouts at virtually every game.”

What made Davis’ senior season more impressive was his dealing with a lingering hamstring injury, which may have hampered his baserunning. It didn’t impact him at the plate, where the scouts recognized his immense potential.

“It was a grind, but he wanted to be out there for his teammates,” Schilling said. “He was very team-centered in his decision.”

After excelling on the basketball court, on the baseball diamond, and in the classroom, it would be no surprise to see Davis succeed with Chicago in the near future, Schilling believes.

“He’s a phenomenal young man. He’s beloved by his teammates and coaches. We’re really going to miss him,” Schilling said.

For Crenshaw, possibly joining his father in the D-backs’ organization made his selection even sweeter. Ken Crenshaw, Wacy’s dad, is the Diamondbacks’ director of sports medicine. He’s been with the organization for more than a decade.

“It’s not surprising that Wacy got drafted because of the kid’s work ethic,” Perry baseball coach Damien Tippett said. “He has a professional state of mind. You don’t see that mindset at such a young age. He’s mature beyond his years.”

In 28 games with GCC, Crenshaw, an infielder/outfielder, was solid at the plate, batting .286, and scored 12 runs as GCC went 33-22.

Crenshaw’s progress began during his days at Perry, where he found his stroke at the plate. He hit .392, adding 25 RBIs as a senior, during his senior season in 2016 before moving on to GCC.

“That was a special group and special year. That core group of seniors – Wacy was one of them – they just cut it loose. It didn’t matter what we were doing, those guys wanted to pummel their opponents,” Tippett said.

Tippett believes that Crenshaw’s greatest strength no doubt will serve him well as he pursues a career in the sport: “Adaptability. The guy can adapt.”

Because of his draft position, Crenshaw may stay in college for at least another year. He has committed to play at Colorado Christian University next season.

“He’s a natural infielder, but we had to put him in the outfield. He did a great job at it. That just shows how athletic he is,” Tippett said.

Contact Brian Benesch at 480-898-5630 or bbenesch@timespublications.com

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