CONWAY - Jonathan Davis came to the University of Central Arkansas as a multi-sport athlete who just happened to play baseball. He now leaves UCA as a Major League baseball player.
Davis, a speedy junior center fielder from Camden, was drafted in the 15th round by the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, joining teammate Forrestt Allday as only the second Bears teammates to ever be drafted the same year. Marquis Riley and Kevin Booker were both drafted in 1992.
Davis, the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year in 2011, was the 445th overall pick by the Blue Jays. He is a career .315 hitter at UCA in 145 games, with 27 doubles, 10 triples, 8 home runs, 107 RBI, 81 walks and 61 stolen bases.
As a junior, Davis hit .268 with a team-high 5 triples, 49 RBI and 25 stolen bases, helping the Bears win their first Southland Conference Tournament championship and reach the final game of the NCAA Starkville Regional.
"I was just waiting it out and trying to be patient,' said Davis. "I actually thought I might be drafted by the Royals because I felt like they had more interest in me coming into today. So I was watching the Royals in the 15th round and they didn't draft me, but then one pick later I saw my name pop up for Toronto. It was so surreal. I was just at a loss for words.
"I can't even describe the feeling my family has right now, with me being the first one to be drafted out of my family. I got a little discouraged earlier when I didn't see my name come up the first two days, but my Pops just told me all my hard work would pay of. He said it's a process and it will all work itself out.'
Davis led the SLC in triples, was second in stolen bases and fourth in RBI, runs scored and walks.
"I think there's no doubt he's one of the top center fielders in the country defensively,' said UCA head coach Allen Gum. "He brings a lot of speed and a lot of defense. And he's very offensive, because that speed works on both sides of the ball. And he brings a lot of toughness. He's played hurt, battled some adversity with the injury. But he's led us in hit by pitches, he takes walks. He just does all the little things to help you win ball games. That will be big for a club, that toughness, that willingness to do the little things.'
Gum said scouts were as impressed with Davis off the field as they were on.
"He'll bring a lot to the Toronto organization,' said Gum, "as far as his skills for sure, but also just his toughness and the ability to go out there and play every day. His character is off the chart. He's a great student, his character is strong, his personality is unbelievable. He's just the kind of guy you want to be around. He makes people around him better. He's a great player but he makes people around him better as well.'
Davis helped the Bears win a school-record 42 games this season and achieve their first national ranking.
"I'm excited about the future of this program,' said Davis. "I can't wait to see where it's going, and I know it can't help but go up off of what we accomplished this year. I'm really excited to see what happens next.'