Henry Davis

HENRY DAVIS, CATCHER
Born: September 21, 1999
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted:  1st Round, 1st Overall, 2021
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of Louisville
Agent: N/A

PIRATES PROSPECTS STORIES
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WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
The Pirates made Davis the first overall pick in the 2021 draft.  He went to Louisville with the reputation of a defense-oriented catcher and hit 283/348/400 as a freshman.  As a sophomore, he made significant improvements to his swing and batted 372/481/698 in the abbreviated college season.  As a junior, he established himself as the undoubted top college position player in the draft, batting 370/482/663, with 15 home runs.  Davis is particularly known for his plate discipline, as he had more walks than strikeouts for his career, including 31 and 24, respectively, as a junior.  He’s hit breaking balls and changeups about the same as fastballs, which is another plus.  Defensively, he’s known for his arm, which gets 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale.  Scouts believe, though, that he needs to work on his blocking and receiving.  Not all think he can stay behind the plate, but the likely advent of robo umps in the near future could help him.  He’s athletic enough to move to a corner position and runs well for a catcher.

Davis was one of a handful of draft prospects who were considered potential top picks.  It was widely believed that the Pirates saw little difference between the possibilities, beyond preferring a hitter, and that they would select the player within that group whom they thought would sign for an amount the furthest below slot.  Davis in fact signed for $6.5M, well below the slot value of $8,415,300.

2021
R:  429/429/1143, 7 AB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 K
A+:  263/375/684, 19 AB, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 8 K, 1-1 SB

The Pirates sent Davis to the FCL for a few games, then moved him up to Greensboro.  He got off to a big start, but strained an oblique and missed the last five weeks of the season.

2022
R:  000/250/000, 3 AB, 1 K
A:  364/467/727, 11 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-1 SB
A+:  342/450/585, 82 AB, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 8 BB, 18 K, 5-6 SB
AA:  207/324/379, 116 AB, 8 2B, 4 HR, 12 BB, 30 K, 3-4 SB

Davis opened the season at Greensboro, hammered the ball to earn a quick promotion, and then spent the rest of the year struggling again with injuries.  He slumped when he first got to Altoona and the Pirates discovered he had a hairline wrist fracture from being hit by a pitch.  (On the season, he got hit 20 times in just 59 games.)  He tried to come back from the injury too early, struggled to hit, then went back on the injured list from the beginning of July to late August.  Davis drew negative comments from some scouts on both his defense and hitting.  The latter is tougher to gauge, given that he was never really healthy after he left Greensboro.  On defense, he threw out just 13% of base stealers.  Possibly in recognition of the defensive risks, and probably also in part due to Endy Rodriguez’ huge season, the Pirates had Davis play two games in right and supposedly will try him in the outfield more.

In two seasons since being drafted, Davis has made only 286 plate appearances, many of those while he was hampered by injuries.  On top of that, he’s arguably been surpassed as a prospect by Rodriguez and Blake Sabol is on the verge of reaching the majors.  And there’s the continuing problem with HBPs.  If Davis can get and stay healthy, none of this should be a significant problem if the Pirates follow through on having all three play other positions, because they all have enough upside with the bat that they don’t have to catch to potentially make it as big leaguers.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2023: Minor league salary
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $6,500,000
MiLB Debut: 2021
MLB Debut:
MiLB FA Eligible: 2027
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2024
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
July 11, 2021: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round, 1st overall pick; signed on July 18.