MLB Prospect Watch: Pirates’ No. 1 Overall Pick Henry Davis Promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis

Henry Davis of the National League Fall Stars signs items for fans before the game between the American League Fall Stars and the National League Fall Stars at Sloan Park on Sunday, November 6, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect catcher 23-year-old Henry Davis was promoted to the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians, on June 5. Davis was the first overall pick by the Pirates in the 2021 MLB draft.

Davis is the Pirates’ third-ranked prospect and ranks 45th in MLB Pipeline’s top 100. His expected arrival in MLB is next season, but he could accelerate that timeline with a strong showing in Triple-A. Davis has risen fast and has now put himself in position for a call-up to the show this season.

“The question was always when not if. “He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Cherington told MLB.com’s Justice de los Santos.

Davis started the season with Pittsburgh Pirates double-A affiliate, the Altoona Curve, where he had 10 home runs, 27 RBI and an OPS of .980 in 148 at-bats. Davis got his first taste of Double-A last season and had four home runs in 31 games.

Davis started last season in rookie ball and played in both levels of A ball with the Pirates. Davis played in 59 games across four levels last season, due to a wrist injury. He had 10 home runs, 42 RBI and an OPS of .852.  Davis improved his plate discipline this season with a nearly identical walk and strikeout rate. His walk rate is 17.1% and his strikeout rate is 18.7%

Davis has an exceptional arm behind the plate, which grades a 70 on MLB.com Pipeline’s scouting report. Davis needs to work on improving his release time and his receiving skills. He has allowed 14 runners to steal this season while catching just three. He had eight passed balls in 598 innings behind the dish the last two seasons.

Davis has also gotten some work in the outfield playing nine games in right field in his Minor League career. The outfield could be a fallback if catching doesn’t work out. He’s also spent 25 games as a designated hitter in the Minor Leagues. With the Universal DH that could be another fallback for Davis down the line.

“He’s improved as an offensive player ever since Spring Training, focusing on the things that were challenging him. Defensively he’s made strides too. We got far enough into the season where he’d had a chance to be the primary catcher in Altoona and get that experience,” Cherington told MLB.com of his organization’s top prospect.

Davis was the top-rated hitter in the 2021 draft class and that’s how he first caught the Pirates’ attention. Davis was a standout at the University of Louisville hitting 21 home runs and driving in 84 runs with an OPS over 1.000 in three seasons from 2019 to 2021.

On Draft Night, Davis reflected on being picked first overall by the Pirates with MLB.com reporter Jake Crouse. Davis was honored to be the first overall pick.

“I’ve got a lot of amazing people in my life who have helped make this possible, so credit to them. I’m very excited,” Davis said.

Davis went 0-2 with a walk in his Triple-A debut for Indianapolis. He allowed three stolen bases and caught one runner stealing. The Indianapolis Indians lost the game 4-2 to the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Triple-A affiliate of Kansas City.

Davis looks to have a bright future ahead and he could be a nice addition to the Pirates’ young core of talent that is off to a surprising 32-27 start.

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