Pittsburgh Pirates: Prospects Teams Should Be Aggressive With

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
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Henry Davis

So far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been aggressive with Henry Davis. Had it not been for injuries, he probably would have gone from Greensboro to Indianapolis in one season. But I believe that Davis' time at Double-A this season won't last long, and he will make his big league debut in the second half of the season.

When Davis was healthy, he was a highly productive batter, slashing .264/.380/.472 with a .385 wOBA and 136 wRC+. Davis clocked in with an OPS just over .850 at .852. He posted a solid 8.2% walk rate and 20% strikeout rate while hitting for decent power (.208 ISO, 10 home runs/12 doubles in 255 plate appearances). But Davis missed just over half of May and nearly all of July due to wrist injuries.

These injuries were caused by the multitude of HBPs Davis received. The former number-one overall pick was plunked a whopping 20 times. He was hit by a pitch nearly as often as he drew a walk (7.8% hit by pitch rate). In Major League Baseball, only once since Integration has there been a player hit 20+ times in fewer than 300 trips to the plate. If that wasn't enough, Davis was hit seven more times in 69 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League and twice in 12 plate appearances in Spring Training. From the start of the 2022 season up through Spring Training this year, Davis has been hit 29 times in just 336 plate appearances, which is an 8.6% rate, only slightly less than his 10.1% walk rate in that same stretch.

While Davis will start the year at Double-A in 2023, he did see some time at Altoona last year. However, it was only 136 plate appearances, and he registered just a .703 OPS, .320 wOBA, and 97 wRC+. But as we saw last year, the Pirates were willing to move Davis through the system with some authority. He started the year at Greensboro and was already at Double-A after just 100 plate appearances.

Now granted, Davis was absolutely crushing pitching at the time. He was slashing .341/.450/.585 with a .461 wOBA and 180 wRC+. Sure, he was playing in a hitter-friendly setting, but a wRC+ adjusts for such things, and he was 80% better than the league-average batter during that time. Plus, no favorable settings are going to overshadow an OPS well over 1.000 (1.035, to be exact).

Based on how the Pirates moved Davis through the system in the past, he won't be long for Double-A, especially if he gets off to a great start like he did last season. Sure, if he gets moved to Triple-A while Endy Rodriguez is still there, it might seem difficult for both to get time as catcher. But Rodriguez can move around the diamond, and Triple-A can utilize the designated hitter for Davis and Rodriguez to keep each other fresh until one or both are promoted to the big leagues. 

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