Andre Davis views himself as a changed baseball player.
Much of it was expected for the Burlington Royals pitcher, who’s the only returning player from last year’s roster.
“I guess that’s the big (difference is) that I’m a starter now,” he said. “It took me this whole time to get used to pitching. Defining what I was supposed to do on the mound.”
Davis, a left-hander, is slated to be the starting pitcher tonight in the second game of the Appalachian League season.
“He’ll look like a new guy this year,” Royals manager Scott Thorman said.
Davis made 12 relief appearances for the 2015 Royals, posting a 3-1 record with an earned run average of 7.16. He gave up 37 hits — including four home runs — and 18 walks in 27 2/3 innings.
“Last year was an introduction into pro ball,” Burlington pitch coach Carlos Martinez said. “We didn’t really expect him to have great numbers.”
Davis was primarily a first baseman in college for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, so he had more than the usual adjustment period when he arrived at the professional level.
“We feel very comfortable with him,” Martinez said. “He had a very, very good spring training. He’s more polished. A lot of people helped him.”
After the 2015 summer in Burlington, he was part of the organization’s fall instructional league. From there and through extended spring training, that’s when the pitching part really started to become second nature.
“It was a lot of work and it will continue to be a lot of work,” he said. “It’s just confidence and knowing I can pitch.”
Others noticed as well and he encountered a bit of a surprise during the spring.
“One day I was a reliever and the next day they told me they were going to work me out as a starter,” he said.
Thorman said Davis made good use of the extended spring training and his new role should be good for him.
“Andre has made great strides,” he said. “Last year, pitching was newer to him. He has put the effort in.”