Prospect Talk

Prospect Spotlight: Henry Davis, C Pittsburgh Pirates

Welcome to our Prospect Spotlight series at The Dynasty Guru. We’ll be taking an in-depth look at multiple prospects at each position, today digging in deep on Henry Davis.

Background

The first overall pick of the 2021 FYPD, some felt a lower signing bonus demand could have influenced the Pirates, but GM Ben Cherrington was clear “We (the Pirates) had him listed first.” Known to be a smart player and good leader, Davis is heavily into data and the analytical side of the game. He’s also a workout warrior and someone who will never be unprepared or outworked. In an interview with Dan O’Dowd, Henry spoke of the importance of his daily routines to keep himself prepared and should help him deal with the daily grind of pro ball.

Hit Tool

Davis begins his stance with a pronounced waste bend, rocks back to load a large portion of his weight onto his back foot then transfers his weight forward smoothly helping to maintain balance through the swing. He’s able to stay back on pitches well and uses his quick hands to generate plus bat speed and consistently make hard contact. The bat comes through the zone with a nice uphill plane that is meant for making hard contact, but he also keeps the barrel of the bat in the zone well and on plane with fastballs. Davis frequently uses the entire field, shooting the ball to right and taking what the pitcher gives him while driving the ball pull side and up the middle. The simple swing mechanics along with solid bat-to-ball skills and ability to generate power without swinging recklessly, garners an above-average hit tool for Davis, something quite rare for a catcher.

Approach

The waste bend and low stance present a smaller zone to the pitcher, but Henry is also quite patient at the plate. In his senior season at Louisville, Davis managed to walk more than he struck out, in part by keeping his K rate just over 10%. He did strike out more in his pro debut, but it was a small sample and he did do significant damage at High A. He tends to swing and miss at fastballs up and out of the zone which can be corrected. The flip side of the coin is he’s able to really power letter high fastballs, and it could just be a zone he attacks. When the ball is down in the zone, Henry can put a good swing on the ball, and also lay off breaking balls down and out of the zone. He has a good sense of spin, and I’d expect him to keep his strikeouts in check, while also walking an above-average amount at the highest level.

Power

At 6’2” and 210 lbs, you can imagine Davis has a strong physique, with a powerful muscular frame in both the upper and lower half. He uses both to generate plenty of power without overextending himself or taking out-of-control cuts. His strength and bat speed allow him to generate plus pull side power and above-average power straight away. While he does use the entire field, he tends to ‘shoot’ the ball the other way rather than drive the ball. While this should help his batting average, it could put a cap on the overall ceiling for power despite having 70-grade raw power. Look for 23-27 home runs annually at the highest level, which would be in or around a top 5 total for catchers in most seasons, though his raw power leaves us hopeful for more.

Speed

Davis is not fast but gets moving quickly and has been aggressive on the basepaths throughout his college career and brief pro career. He was ten for thirteen in stolen base attempts this past season at Louisville and stole a base in only six games at High A Greensborough. Double-digit steals at the highest level might be a stretch, but Henry should have enough speed to be a factor. I’d project him to steal around 5-6 bases a year and possibly a couple more.

Defense

Known for a gun of an arm, given a 70-grade tool by many scouting sites due to the velocity and accuracy of throws. Davis is not known to have above-average receiving & framing skills and has difficulty with advanced stuff.  He has solid footwork and shows enough promise & determination combined with his double-plus arm to project to remain behind the plate.

Summary

Davis’ power stroke is already advanced, and it shouldn’t take long to polish his hit tool to be ready as well. The biggest challenge he’ll likely face before making his big league debut is getting better at receiving the ball behind the plate. The Pirates could ask him to take several seasons to really hone the abilities he does have and become their catcher of the future. Henry is the only catcher you’ll likely see on a Pirates top 30 prospects list, so there is plenty of incentive to get him as good as possible and stick at the position. It’s possible the bat forces them to promote him faster than is ideal for his defensive development, but most likely we’re looking at a debut early in the 2024 season.

Scouting Grades

Hit          Raw Power          Game Power       Speed                   Field       FV          

55           70                          60                          45                          45           55

The Author

Ken Balderston

Ken Balderston

20+ years of fantasy baseball experience & currently only playing in dynasty leagues. Christian, proud father of 3, husband to the strongest woman in the world, accountant, golfer, cook.

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