Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Three of the System's Best Prospect Tools
By Noah Wright
Henry Davis' Power
Many saw Henry Davis as the best power hitter in the 2021 draft class. Davis had the potential to translate his raw power into game power, given his hit tool and plate discipline. After a solid showing in late-2021 and during an injury-shortened 2022, it looks like Davis had fully tapped into the raw power that many were enamored by when the backstop was at Louisville.
In 2022, the first overall pick posted some solid numbers, including a .264/.380/.472 triple-slash across three levels of the minor leagues (not counting a rehab game at the FCL). Although he was only limited to 255 plate appearances, it was a promising line nonetheless. He also had a respectable 8.2% BB% and 20% K-rate.
However, his 2022 numbers pale in comparison to what he's done so far with Altoona in 2023. Davis is currently batting .314/.457/.647 with a .461 wOBA. Davis has drawn 22 walks to oppose just 23 strikeouts. That comes out to a BB% and K% of 17.1% and 17.8%, respectively. Davis has already drawn more base on balls this year than last season, but in nearly half the amount of plate appearances (126 to be exact), and is just one home run away from matching his '22 total.
In terms of power, there's nothing short of excellence so far this year. Davis has a slugging percentage approaching .650, with an isolated slugging percentage well above .300 at .333. With nine dingers in 129 plate appearances, he's on pace for nearly 42 home runs over the course of 600 plate appearances. While that's not to say that Davis will be a guarenteed 40+ home run catcher in the future, there's certainly a lot of power here. It's only helped by the fact that Davis can control the strike zone and his bat.
Between his top-of-the-line power and well-above-average hit tool, the sky's the limit for Davis' offensive ceiling, though some questions remain about his defense. Davis wasn't known as much of a defender in college, and that showed in 2021-2022 when he allowed nine passed balls in less than 500 innings (370 to be exact), which comes out to 19 PBs in 800 innings. However, he's only allowed one passed ball this year in 183.1 innings (comes out to a pace of four PBs in 800 frames) and has played some outfield, both to hide his defensive woes behind the dish and to make room for Endy Rodriguez. There's no question that Davis has an arm to play both behind the plate and in the outfield if need be. Plus, for a catcher, he runs decently well.
Davis is likely on track for a mid-season 2023 Major League debut at the pace he's currently at. What he's done at Double-A has been astounding to watch, and it's only a matter of time until the Pirates reward Davis. That's especially true, given the current catching situation in the major leagues.