Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect: Best Projected Player at Each Level in 2023

MLB All-Star Week
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Double-A Altoona - Catcher Henry Davis

Henry Davis has had somewhat of an odd professional career so far. When he’s been healthy, he’s been a great batter. But health hasn’t been on his side, though that’s no fault of his own. While Davis did see time at Altoona last season, it was a small sample size where he didn’t do fantastic, which is why I am currently projecting him to at least start the year for the Double-A affiliate.

In the 255 plate appearances spread across Bradenton, Greensboro, and Altoona, Davis batted .264/.380/.472 with a .385 wOBA and 136 wRC+. He hit for his fair share of power with a .208 isolated slugging percentage to go with a healthy 8.2% walk rate/20% strikeout rate. But why was Davis only limited to 255 plate appearances, and why are his injuries not his fault?

Well, Davis also was hit by an astounding 20 pitches. Last season, only 18 minor leaguers were hit by 20+ pitches. Davis was the only one of those 18 to be hit by 20+ balls and have fewer than 375 trips to the dish. Some of those HBPs caused Davis to miss some time in 2022. Only one major league player since post-integration (1947) has had fewer than 300 plate appearances and has been hit 20 or more times.

When Davis is healthy, he’s a guy who could hit .280/.350/.600 with the potential to hit 40 home runs. Davis is a very powerful catcher with a very high offensive ceiling, arguably the highest among the Pirates’ prospects. However, his defense behind the dish leaves much to be desired. He has a powerful arm but has struggled with blocking and framing. He’s already let up nine passed balls in just 370 innings behind the plate. The Pirates did put Davis in right field for two games, but his days as a catcher are far from over.

With 2023 marking his age-23 season, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Davis at least makes his major league debut sometime next year. Had it not been for injuries caused by the number of times he was hit, he might start the year off at Triple-A. But given he posted mediocre numbers at Altoona, he might start the year there and end up at Indy by the end of the month.

Honorable Mention: Jared Jones