Number Two – Catcher Henry Davis
Pre-season Ranking: #2
The first overall pick and the Pirates’ first-rounder of the 2021 draft, Henry Davis, comes in at #2. The third pick from the ’21 draft we’ll examine today, Davis was an under-slot pick out of necessity for the team to sign both Chandler, Solometo, and other overslot picks like Lonnie White Jr. and Braylon Bishop. Davis has some of the best power potential in the system, and from behind the plate, no less.
Davis missed some time last year, collecting just a grand total of 255 plate appearances. But when he was healthy, he performed well. He batted .264/.380/.472 with a .385 wOBA, and 136 wRC+. Davis hit for his fair share of power, crushing ten home runs while posting a .208 isolated slugging percentage. Both his 8.2% walk rate and 20% strikeout rate were above average as well.
Davis missed time because 20 pitches hit him. He missed the second half of May and the first week of June, along with nearly all of July and most of August. For reference, since 2015, there have been 28 instances where 20 or more pitches hit a player in a single season in the major leagues. Among those 28 instances, none played fewer than 91 games, and none received fewer than 305 plate appearances.
Davis managed just a 97 wRC+ at Double-A, but it was a small sample size of 136 plate appearances that was hampered by the injuries he sustained from all the HBP’s. It seems like he is back at full strength, though. He is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and has racked up nine hits in 41 plate appearances, including six extra-base hits (one home run, five doubles). Plus, he’s drawn six walks with just nine Ks. His OPS clocks in at just over one thousand at 1.006, but it wouldn’t be Henry Davis if three more pitches didn’t hit him.
Davis has a cannon of an arm behind the dish but lacks overall defensive prowess. He’s struggled with blocking, allowing nine passed balls in just 370 career innings. The Pittsburgh Pirates let him get a few innings in right field at Altoona, but he may end up seeing some time at first base.
Davis will be fun to watch regardless of where he plays within the next year. He’ll be going into his age-23 season, so his time at Double-A may not be much longer. Davis can potentially be a .280 batter who swats 30+ home runs a season. Even if he has to move out from behind the dish, he still has the chance to be one of the Pittsburgh Pirates best hitters.