Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Henry Davis Needs Moved Up

Oct 26, 2022; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Henry Davis plays for the Surprise
Oct 26, 2022; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Henry Davis plays for the Surprise / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates need to move highly touted prospect Henry Davis up to the next level, whether that be MLB or Triple-A

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Henry Davis with the first overall pick in the 2021 draft. Although Davis was considered a top three talent in the draft, many still saw it as the Pirates going under slot, as they would then go on to draft first-round-caliber talents like Anthony Solometo and Bubba Chandler.

Based on how Davis has performed so far this year, he could very well end up being the best player from the draft and the first player to reach the majors from the first round. But right now, the Pirates need to give Davis his promotion, whether that be to Triple-A or Indianapolis.

Davis has been one of the minor league’s best hitters. In 97 plate appearances, the powerful backstop is slashing .316/.464/.711. Davis has a solid 20.6% strikeout rate, which might be the worst number in his offensive line. He’s drawn a walk in 16.5% of his trip to the plate, with eight home runs, four doubles, and a .395 isolated slugging percentage. This culminates in a wOBA well over .500 at .514 and wRC+ well over 200 at 216.

When I said that Davis has been one of the best hitters across the minor leagues, I wasn’t exaggerating. If anything, I was only selling him short. Davis has the third-best wRC+ among all qualified minor league batters and the highest in the upper minor leagues.

The next closest batter who has spent their entire 2023 season at Double-A so far is Baltimore Oriole outfielder Heston Kjerstad at 177. Davis also ranks 4th in OPS and wOBA. Davis is one of only two total batters with an OBP over .450 and a slugging percentage over .700.

So far, throughout his minor league career, Davis is batting .280/.402/.557. He’s only struck out at a 21.1% rate with a 10.7% walk rate to combat that. Power has been a clear calling card for Davis, with a .277 isolated slugging percentage. All told that’s a .425 wOBA and 160 wRC+. Davis is just one of 15 batters since 2021 with a wOBA over .420 and wRC+ of at least 150 in 350+ plate appearances.

Even though Davis isn’t known for his defensive prowess, his blocking has been significantly better this year compared to last season. In 2022, Davis allowed seven passed balls in just 324 innings. So far, in 151 innings this year, he’s allowed one ball to get behind him. The difference is a dozen fewer passed balls over the course of 800 innings from 2022 and 2023.

You can argue whether or not Henry Davis should get moved directly to the major leagues, but there’s no doubt that he needs to go to Triple-A. He’s posted a wRC+ over 200 for over a month’s worth of playing time. Davis really has nothing left to prove at Altoona. He needs to be moved to the next level, whether that be Triple-A Indy or the MLB club.

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