HENRY DAVIS
Nickname:   N/A Position:   C-OF
Home: N/A Team:   PIRATES - IL
Height: 6' 2" Bats:   R
Weight: 210 Throws:   R
DOB: 9/21/1999 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 32  
Birth City: Bedford, NY
Draft: Pirates #1 - 2021 - Out of Univ. of Louisville (KY)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2021 HAE GREENSBORO   6 19 6 5 0 1 2 3 1 0 4 8 .375 .684 .263
2022 FSL BRADENTON   6 13 3 5 1 0 1 2 1 0 1 3 .500 .692 .385
2022 GCL FCL   1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .000 .000
2022 EL ALTOONA   31 116 19 24 8 0 4 18 3 0 12 30 .324 .379 .207
2022 SAL GREENSBORO   22 82 18 28 3 1 5 22 5 1 8 18 .450 .585 .341
2023 NL PIRATES   62 225 27 48 10 0 7 24 3 5 25 69 .302 .351 .213
2024 IL INDIANAPOLIS   23 82 20 24 7 0 7 17 1 0 10 25 .431 .634 .293
2024 NL PIRATES   29 85 9 13 4 0 1 5 0 0 13 40 .267 .235 .153
Today's Game Notes
  • May 24, 2024:  Coming into the year, the question was whether Henry Davis would play well enough behind the plate to justify keeping his bat in the lineup. It turned out that it was the opposite. His defense was greatly improved, but he wasn’t hitting.

    The Pirates optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis on May 3, and he has torn up International League pitching since then, slashing .320/.469/.760 with four doubles, six homers and 14 RBIs in 14 games.
     
    “He's gone down there with a purpose and not surprisingly, he's working hard,” said general manager Ben Cherington of Davis. “Defensive side of the game has remained solid, in a similar place to where it was here. Obviously, as you can see, the offensive performance has been strong. We're seeing progress, even aside from the OPS and what the surface results look like. We're seeing progress in the specific area he's been attacking down there.”
     
    There’s no question the Pirates think he’s worthy of another shot in the Majors. They wouldn’t have drafted him with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 Draft if they were just going to give up on him less than three years later. (A Stumpf - MLB.com - May 25, 2024)
     

Personal
  • Davis is the son of Christopher and Andrea Davis. And Henry says they both are the greatest influences on his athletic career. His siblings are Olivia and Morgan.

  • Henry lettered four years at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York.

  • Davis accepted a baseball scholarship to the Univ. of Louisville. 

    As a freshman in 2019, he hit .280 with three home runs and 23 RBIs.

    In the Covid-19-shortened 2020 season, Henry hit .372 with five doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs in 14 games.

  • Davis enjoys listening to music, shooting guns and traveling in his free time … Favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happiness … Favorite athlete is Derek Jeter … Favorite team is the New York Yankees. (gocards.com - 2020)

  • Davis batted .303 with 36 RBIs, 21 walks and 22 strikeouts in 59 games over his first two seasons. He batted .372 with five doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs and a 1.179 OPS in 14 games before the 2020 season shut down.

  • 2021 Scouting Report: Davis has likely benefited from the 2021 baseball season more than any other player in the draft. While he tore the cover off the ball in 2020 over 43 at-bats, maintaining his success at the plate over a much larger sample size in 2021 has led draft analysts to push him to the top of their boards. This season, Davis has slashed .370/.482/.663, good for a 1.145 OPS while launching 15 home runs and walking more than striking out.

    As a college catcher who has strong intangibles behind the plate and a bat that projects to be above average at the major league level, Henry is one of the safer prospects in this year’s draft.

  • July 2021: Davis was the #1 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, chosen by the Pirates, out of the Univ. of Louisville. 

  • July 17, 2021:  The Pirates signed Davis and were able to go under slot value to sign him, as they inked him to a $6.5 million bonus, via scout Adam Bourassa.  That’s well below the $8.4 million slot value for the No. 1 overall pick, freeing up money to potentially sign some highly touted high schoolers the team selected between Competitive Balance Round B and the fourth round.  (Crouse - mlb.com - 7/18/2021)
  • Henry got the call he’d been waiting to hear for nearly a lifetime about an hour before the Draft began in Denver on July 11, 2021.  He couldn’t tell anyone, but he didn’t hide it well, as his family immediately knew something was up.  “My mom actually picked it up right away,” Davis said.  “When she hugged me, she was like, ‘You know something is up.’  And I was like, ‘Yep.’” What did Davis know? Something life-changing:  The Pirates were going to select him with the very first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. 

    “I’m just honored, honestly,” Davis said.  “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.”

    Going to Louisville turned out to be a great decision, and accolades followed.  Davis was a finalist for the Buster Posey Award as college baseball’s top catcher in Division I, he earned first-team All-America honors from Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association in 2021 and he was a semifinalist for the 2021 Golden Spikes Award. 

    Davis has a strong work ethic.  He was a gym rat at Louisville, sneaking time between class and practice to put in extra work in the weight room.  (Crouse - mlb.com - 7/11/2021) 

  • Henry has a strong need to get better. Take his best tool as an example. Davis has an exceptional arm. Scouts have been stacking it up against big league arms since the Louisville catcher was in high school. 

    "I remember when I was going into high school, reading or hearing that if you could throw 100 yards you could throw 90 miles an hour. And I thought, ‘Whoa, that would be amazing. I wonder how far I can throw?’

    “I’m serious. I went to the local football field and I threw something like 70 yards. I was pretty frustrated and disappointed, so I came back the next day.

    “And the next day and the next day, and I kept doing it constantly, and kind of got a little obsessed with it, to the point where I got to 100 yards. And then I got to the back of the end zone, and then throwing it through the field goal to the point where I could get both field goals. I literally just long-tossed my way into it because I didn’t have a great arm and I really wanted it, so I just chased after that.”

  • 2021 Season: Davis performed very well, but only appeared in 8 games with 31 trips to the plate. He suffered an oblique strain that kept him out the end of the 2021 season. But those 31 plate appearances were outstanding. He collected 8 hits with 3 home runs, and 2 doubles, as well as drawing 4 walks.

    Most of those plate appearances came at High-A Greensboro (24). Performing that well (although in a small sample size) is a promising start to his career, especially at a level considered just below the upper minor leagues (Double and Triple-A). (Noah Wright - Oct. 10, 2021)

  • In 2022, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Henry as the second-best prospect in the Pirates organization. He was at #3 in 2023.

  • Feb 2022: Davis has a higher offensive ceiling and a stronger arm than most catchers and will move as rapidly as he can polish his receiving. 

  • Feb 2022: Pirates best prospect drafted out of college — Henry Davis, C (No. 1, MLB No. 22)

    Davis had shown glimpses of offensive promise in his first two years at Louisville, serving notice he might be one of the better college bats in the 2021 Draft class when he hit .372/.481/.698 in the 14 games of the shortened 2020 season. He followed that up with a monster .370/.483/.663 campaign, to go along with 15 homers, as a junior that catapulted him to the top of Draft boards.

    Yes, the Pirates saved money by taking him No. 1 overall, but it was a win-win for them as they liked the bat, think he has a better chance to stick behind the plate than many do and absolutely love his makeup and work ethic. (Mayo, Callis, Dykstra - MLB.com - Feb 17, 2022)

  • Davis, the Pirates’ first-round draft pick last year and their future franchise catcher if all goes well, has been hit by a pitch (HBP) 15 times this season — the third-highest total in the minor leagues. In April, when Davis was with High-A Greensboro, he was hit by a pitch in five straight games.

    Davis and Aberdeen catcher Connor Pavolony became buddies in college. Davis went to Louisville and Pavolony went to Tennessee, but the catchers share a tight sense of fraternity. And both were drafted in 2021. When Davis came back to bat after one of his daily plunkings, Pavolony looked up from his crouch and told his friend he was sorry.

    “He was like, ‘Dude, I promise you it’s not happening on purpose,’” Davis said. “He was rolling his eyes. He couldn’t believe it kept happening.”

    This long, painful parade of baseballs smacking into his flesh and bone is a new experience for Davis. It rarely happened to him in Little League and high school. In three seasons at Louisville, Davis was HBP just 12 times in 109 games.

    A prevention step: encouraging Davis to be more willing to duck and cover. “Henry is not afraid of the baseball,” John Baker, Pirates farm director, said. “Maybe he just needs to be a little bit more afraid of the baseball.”

    That’s the opposite of what Davis learned in college. After Davis’ freshman season at Louisville, the coaches urged him to stop diving out of the box and be willing to absorb a HBP.

    “That’s something I embraced,” Davis said. “An HBP was something we took pride in. If they give you a free base, that’s how you win games.”

    Baker loves that attitude and Davis’ commitment to winning. Yet the Pirates need Davis to become a future cornerstone. If he’s to win later in the majors, he has to stay on the field in the minors.

    “We’re kind of helping him learn the difference between winning and development,” Baker said. “The conversations we’ve had are about weighing the value of getting on base in High A or Double A against long-term health and development.” (Biertempfel - TheAthletic.com - June 16, 2022)

  • 2022 Season:  Davis has continued to shine since his promotion to Double-A earlier this year and is showing why he was drafted and ranked so highly. Despite struggling with an injury this summer, Davis still produced through 59 games, amassing 56 hits while batting .264 for the season. While his batting numbers are down since joining Altoona, Davis is another bright spot behind the backstop.  (JaimanWhite@JaimanWhite - Dec 5, 2022)

  • Jan 19, 2023: Henry knew what he wanted to say. He wanted to be honest, to share his truth. Some would come from the head. Some would come from the heart. There’s a tradition on the University of Louisville baseball team in which upperclassmen address the entire team. By Davis’ third year in the program, few players in the country had résumés that could match his. He was a guaranteed first-round pick. He could even go first overall. But Davis didn’t want to speak of his triumphs. He didn’t want to speak of the highlights. He wanted to discuss his nadir.

    “I knew I wanted to be super honest,” Davis said. “I just ran them through what was going through my head.”

    Davis stood at the front of a packed room. Upperclassmen in the front, underclassmen in the back, coaches to the side. On plenty of other occasions, Davis had led with his actions. On this day, he’d lead with his voice. He’d bring his team back to the plate appearance that had defined his collegiate career.

    Louisville had been in the midst of its deepest postseason run in school history, having already won two games in the College World Series, but was now on the brink of elimination, trailing Vanderbilt by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning. A loss would end the Cardinals’ season. Davis settled into the batter’s box in Omaha with two outs and a runner on second base, an opportunity to play the hero.

    Even having this opportunity was a testament to how much Davis had impressed in his first months on campus. He earned regular playing time as a freshman, something that isn’t guaranteed at Louisville. Two innings earlier, he had singled and gone on to score the go-ahead run. With the season on the line, Louisville needed its budding star to come through again.

    Davis fell behind in the count, 1-2, but on the fourth and final pitch of the plate appearance, he received a gift: a hanging slider. He loaded. He swung. He connected.

    Davis popped out. With an opportunity to tie or even win the game, he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield. Now, two years later, Davis stood in front of his team and recited the memory. But as he spoke, it became clear that his reflection of this moment wasn’t the end of his talk. It was the beginning.

    “Making the last out with the tying run on second is something I want to stick with me forever. It's those moments that make you reflect on what you could have done differently. It's not a good feeling,” Davis said. “As a freshman, I felt there was more I could have done. I made it my goal after that to never have that feeling again."

  • "He looks like he lives for this moment." Before Omaha, before Louisville, before anything, Henry Davis was a kid who found his passion.

    By age 5, Davis loved baseball. He loved playing it. He loved practicing. He loved watching it. He wanted to be a Major League Baseball player.

    His father tempered expectations.

    “I told him, 'The odds are slim-to-none,’” said his father, Chris Davis.

    Just like that?

    “I told him straight up. Slim-to-none.”

    Davis, of course, was not deterred by probability.

    As a child, Davis was always in motion, commonly eschewing toys or television in favor of physical activity. His parents provided him with several outlets to expend that energy, from soccer to basketball to tennis to skiing to lacrosse, but baseball was the sport that clicked. He wanted to play, and to practice, as much as possible.

    He arrived two hours early to his Little League games. He brought equipment on vacations. Chris transformed part of their garage into a batting cage, allowing Henry the space to spend countless hours taking countless swings. If Chris wasn’t home, Davis soft-tossed to himself in the backyard, launching baseballs into a swamp-like area beyond the fence in the pursuit of hitting imaginary home runs, ruining dozens of balls in the process. Soon enough, he’d be hitting real ones.

    Davis was on the smaller side in his youth, but his mother, Andi Schaefer, recalls that he had strength. That was apparent in the Home Run Derby at the Cooperstown Dreams Park, which hosts youth baseball tournaments. Davis was one of 10 players to qualify for the event. He stood around 5-foot-2. His opponents hovered around six feet.

    There was also the matter of the environment. Players and parents filled the stadium. Lights shined down upon the sluggers. Even with the size discrepancy, even with the pressure, Davis finished tied for second place with three homers on 10 swings.

    “It is mayhem,” Andi said. “There's five to six thousand people in the stadium. There are fireworks going off. There are 10 kids who are going to do the Home Run Derby. I’m literally unable to breathe. He walks out there like he could care less. Big smile, not nervous at all.

    “The guy next to me says, 'Wow, that kid doesn't look nervous at all. He looks like he lives for this moment.’”

  • The birth of the early-morning workouts. By the time he was in 10th grade, Davis knew something had to change.

    His freshman year at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, NY, a suburb about an hour outside New York City, ended in an early loss in the sectional playoffs, one that didn’t sit well with him. He had won the job of starting catcher, but he wanted to take a step forward. He wanted his team to do the same. To do that, he couldn’t maintain the status quo. Thus, the early morning workouts were born.

    About three times a week, Davis woke around four o’clock and got in work before the sun came up. Sometimes he picked up teammates. Often, he worked out with Morgan, his younger brother. Henry believes Morgan would’ve rather stayed in bed.

    “He's sleeping on the way there,” Davis said. “I had such a supportive family that, even if he didn't feel like doing it, he would do it to help me.”

    Davis experimented with several different locations, but eventually settled on an indoor facility about 40 minutes away whose owner was willing to unlock it early. For months, Davis would drive to the facility, work out, drive back, shower, eat and still be on time for school.

    “He was in a league by himself,” said Matt Hillis, Davis’ coach at Fox Lane. “The kid used to wake me up at 11 o'clock at night with a text message of video of him hitting in his basement, saying, 'How's this looking? Do you see anything that I'm doing wrong?’”

    Hillis recalls Davis constantly seeking more work. More batting practice. More catching. Even during frigid northeast Januarys, Davis would long-toss at the football field. That willingness to work didn’t just make Davis better. It made the entire team better.

    “High school rubs off on certain individuals,” Hillis said. “High school is a little bit of a different level and it's not going to necessarily get everybody all excited to get in there and do the extra hitting, but certainly, a bunch of kids did it because he led by example.”

    "I tried to use that moment for good.”

  • That work made Davis one of the best prep catchers in the country. That work landed Davis a scholarship to Louisville. That work set the stage for Davis to receive extensive playing time as a freshman. And it landed him in that spot in Omaha.

    Two outs. Two strikes. Down a run. An opportunity to extend his team’s season. He got a pitch to drive. He popped out. Game over. Season over. As a coach, you're just sitting there going, 'Man, this guy is all in. This guy's serious, man. He's committed.’

    “He said that he couldn’t sleep for two weeks after that,” recalled former teammate and current Dodgers prospect Dalton Rushing. “It just ran through his head on replay.”

    As Davis stood in front of his peers two years later, he explained that he believed he owed it to his teammates to be better. If he found himself in that situation again, he wanted to deliver. He had to deliver.

    “He said, 'I made a decision the August after my freshman year, I wasn't going to settle for just being good. I want to see how good or great I can be,’” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “For the last two years of his career at Louisville, you saw a determined young man.”

    McDonnell already knew of Davis’ work ethic. His teammates did, too. But few in that room knew the degree to which Davis evolved. He explained that he had started taking better care of his body. No junk food. No alcohol. He even modified how he slept, using an eye mask and wearing a sleep tracking device.

    “He told them, 'From August after my freshman year, I've had one beer in the last two years, and that was on New Year's Eve. I'm just not going there. I'm all about my diet, nutrition, treating my body right,’” McDonnell recalled. “Again, as a coach, you're just sitting there going, 'Man, this guy is all in. This guy's serious, man. He's committed.’”

  • As a sophomore, Davis needed just a few weeks to show he was different. In his first 14 games, he hit .372/.481/.884, equaling the number of home runs (three) and extra-base hits (eight) he had as a freshman.

    The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 college baseball season, but even with baseball on hold and the world in a moment of uncertainty, Davis figured out ways to work.

    He began by hitting off a tee and throwing with his brother. In time, they built a mound so Henry could catch Morgan’s bullpens. Davis played at the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, one of the few leagues that remained operational during the pandemic. Rushing recalled working out daily with Davis in the basement of a mall near Davis’ house.

    “There was enough room for maybe five-to-seven people,” Rushing said. “We would go down there with random men and just lift as heavy as we could trying to get as strong as possible.” Davis also found a way to work with some professionals.

    While scrolling through Instagram, he saw that Adam Ottavino, who also hails from New York, was throwing into a net. Davis said he was available. To Davis’ surprise, Ottavino accepted the invitation and the two began working together several times per week. Davis caught Matt Barnes as well. Thus, he not only found a way to put in work, but to observe how a pair of professionals went about their business.

    “I noticed pretty quickly that his demeanor and his maturity was much further beyond what I was expecting for a guy who wasn’t even a junior yet in college,” Ottavino said. “Clearly had a really good work ethic. Had a great understanding at his age of what he needed to work on and was always asking the right questions.”

    Upon returning to Louisville in the fall of 2020, Davis continued his meticulous preparation for another college season, as well as for the upcoming MLB Draft. While just about all his teammates went home for winter break, Davis opted to spend just a couple days with his mother in Florida before returning to Louisville.

    “I remember saying, 'Henry, you need to spend some time with your mom, man,’” McDonnell recalls. “He goes, 'Coach, my mom gets it. She knows I love her, but she knows I have to get back. There's only so much I can do down there in that part of Florida by the beach.' I remember he was gone for only 48 hours. He was locked in.”

    Andi accepted that Henry’s vacation would be short. What she wouldn’t accept was her son's unwillingness to break his diet just one time.

    “I finally said, 'It's Christmas Eve, Henry. I cooked all this and you're going to eat this whether it's on your diet or not.’” When college baseball returned, Davis picked up where he left off. In 50 games, he hit .370/.482/.663, slugged 15 home runs and stole 10 bases, ending up with a laundry list of accolades. McDonnell believes the performance was especially notable given how he saw other college hitters initially struggle upon facing live pitching.

    “I saw it with other Midwest kids in my program,” McDonnell said. “How does this kid from the Northeast get that much better as a hitter when the season got taken away and the summer got taken away?”

    The commitment, the grind, the work all culminated in the Pirates selecting Davis with the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

    Davis said on Draft night that the Pirates had wanted to select him out of high school, but the team’s offer was not enough for him to forgo his commitment to Louisville. It was a decision that changed the trajectory of his career. His first year ended in disappointment. His third year ended in anointment. And for all the highlights, when McDonnell reminisces about his catcher's time with the program, he comes back to the day when Davis shared his truth.

    “I just remember thinking, 'Man, what an influence I've got right there.' That's going to pay dividends,” McDonnell said.

    “There are moments in my career like that where failure leaps you forward,” Davis said. “You can either feel sorry for yourself, or you can use it for good. I tried to use that moment for good.” (JD Santos - MLB.com - Jan 19. 2023) 

  • It comes as no surprise that Davis, the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, made his debut less than two years after being drafted. What does come as a mild surprise is the position that he played in his debut: right field.

    Davis began the season with Double-A Altoona and Endy Rodríguez, ranked as the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, began the season with Indianapolis so they could both catch full time. But Davis, the club's No. 3 prospect, has become acclimated with right field. With Altoona, Davis caught 264 1/3 innings and played 58 innings in right field. With Indianapolis, by contrast, Davis spent more time in right field (48 innings) than behind the plate (38 innings).

    With Pittsburgh, at least in the short term, Davis will be more of a right fielder than a catcher. To make room on the roster for Davis, the Bucs optioned infielder Mark Mathias to Indianapolis and kept catchers Austin Hedges and Jason Delay on the Major League roster.

    Davis may receive a sprinkling of time at catcher, but he’ll primarily be a right fielder for now. Hedges and Delay will comprise the lion’s share of innings behind the plate.  “This is really about giving our team, in the short term, the best chance to win games,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “We think our catching tandem, with Hedges and Delay, are a big part of our overall improvement this year. We want to honor that and keep that intact and also find a way to improve our team.

    “We think Henry does that for us by playing a different position. That’s for the short term. We believe that Henry will catch in the big leagues. There’ll be time to get into that.” (JD Santos - MLB.com - June 19, 2023)

  • MLB debut (June 19, 2023): Relative to the average minor leaguer, Henry's journey from MLB draftee to the major leagues was a quick one. So it’s only fitting that, in his first career big-league game, it didn’t take him long to deliver an exciting moment in front of his new home fans.

    Davis, ripped a double in his first career plate appearance off of Cubs starter Drew Smyly, quickly living up to the hype that’s followed him since he was drafted nearly two years ago. Upon reaching second base, he clapped to himself, and then mimed the Pirates’ sword celebration to his teammates in the dugout. (Nick Selbe)

  • 2023 Season: Henry was one of the most exciting, yet disappointing, Pirates of the past season. He debuted on June 19 and doubled in his first at-bat but faltered through limited playing time due to inconsistency and injury. Davis, 24, only hit .214 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 62 games. On a high note, he became the first player to ever hit two home runs off Shohei Ohtani in the same game.

    Drafted as a catcher but known for his bat, Davis has steadily improved behind the plate, but the organization longs for more from their 24-year-old righty. Endy Rodriguez poses a significant upgrade defensively behind the plate, with Davis having ground to make up.

    The possibility of automatic balls and strikes to diminish pitch framing could come into play sooner rather than later. Does this matter to the Pirates? It’s obviously playing into hypotheticals but poises a unique theory as to why Davis could remain a catcher. That and who wouldn’t want a power-hitting catcher who can hit in the middle of your lineup? Davis did okay in right field and dealt with issues playing the ball off the wall or on a hop. Spring Training 2024 will be a telling sign of the Pirates’ true intentions for Davis. (Austin Bechtold@AustinRBechtold - Oct 17, 2023)

  • Dec 5, 2023: Henry debuted with the Pirates with an outfielder’s glove, but he never put away his catching gear. He’ll be donning it again come Spring Training 2024.

    Though general manager Ben Cherington is looking for offensive help in the corner outfield spots at baseball’s Winter Meetings, Davis won’t be among the options there going into next season. Both Cherington and manager Derek Shelton made it clear they want him to focus on catching, at least for now.

    “Henry’s going to come into Spring Training as a catcher,” Cherington said from the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. “Still believe the best outcome for him, for the Pirates, is that that’s what he’s doing going forward.”

    It’s an interesting, though not necessarily surprising decision with a couple different facets. While Davis played the vast majority of his games in right field after debuting there in mid-June, he was a catcher when he arrived in the organization as the No. 1 overall pick in 2021 and spent most of his rise up the system there.

    Not until his final five weeks in the Minor Leagues did he start playing in the outfield. Davis caught just two innings during his stretch run in Pittsburgh. He was on track to get more time there as the season wound down, but a right hand strain in mid-August prompted the Pirates to keep him in the outfield upon his return from the injured list in mid-September. Davis rated at minus-6 outs above average in his first extended stint in right field, according to Statcast. That could improve with more work, but his offense could be more at a premium if he’s catching. He batted .213 in 62 games this past season with seven homers, 24 RBIs and a .653 OPS.

    “We were going to go into the offseason or even September and have him catch more, and the injury kind of derailed that,” Shelton said. “Then we started to focus on [working] on it this offseason and into next year.”

    The Pirates currently have four catchers on their 40-man roster, Davis included. Fellow prospect Endy Rodríguez debuted a month after Davis and played 52 of his 57 games at catcher, throwing out 9 of 30 would-be base-stealers and registering an average pop time in the top 14 percent of Major League catchers. He also batted .220 with three homers, 13 RBIs and a .612 OPS. (J Beck - MLB.com - Dec 5, 2023)

  • Jan 7, 2024: Davis knew from his exit meetings after the 2023 season what his offseason focus would be. The Pirates wanted him to become the full-time Major League catcher they knew he could be.

    Davis began his big league career with 417 1/3 innings of work in right field compared with only two innings behind the plate in 2023. The organization saw his counterpart, Endy Rodríguez, as the more polished defensive catcher when the two were called up within a month of each other. 

    But with Rodríguez out for the season due to UCL surgery and a flexor tendon repair in his right arm, there’s a clear path for Davis to get the bulk of the reps behind the plate alongside Jason Delay.

    “The matter of fact is, injuries can happen at any time,” Davis said. “I was injured last year. I've been injured in the past. People get hurt all the time. We put our bodies on the line every day, so there's a situation where you've got to be prepared to pivot.”  Davis has been preparing for this opportunity long before it arose. He caught bullpens last season and worked behind the scenes to get acclimated to the Pirates’ pitching staff, which he said has been the biggest focus for him instead of one facet of defense in particular.

    “I know there's a lot of different ways and certain things are easier to measure than others, but at the end of the day, I'll grade myself on if guys want to throw to me or not, and that's a really good indicator of if you can really get on the same page as a guy,” he said.

  • In addition to his workouts and general work, Davis has split time between two important areas: Driveline in Kent, Washington, and the Pirates’ complex in Bradenton, Florida.

    How much has Driveline helped? "More than I thought it would, honestly,” Davis said. “I kind of always look for … things as a player to get an edge or get a percent. But it's kind of blown me away, I've been very happy with it." 

    Being in Bradenton has allowed him to catch big league guys who have visited the complex this offseason, as well as such up-and-comers as the Pirates’ No. 1 prospect, Paul Skenes, who is seen as being able to reach the big league club in 2024 if he’s healthy. Both Davis and Skenes were No. 1 overall Draft picks by the Pirates in 2021 and 2023, respectively, so their first time as a pitcher-catcher battery will be a momentous occasion in Pittsburgh. "He's great,” Davis said of Skenes. “He's super intense. A winner." 

    Going around the country, putting in the extra work, holding himself to a high standard: Those are just a few things that make Davis who he is. He’s taken on new positions and worked hard in the background to have the opportunity he has this season. And when you’re wired like Davis, the extra work hardly feels like work.

    “It's a privilege. I'm blessed by God to play this game, truly,” Davis said. “Dreamed of it every moment since I was a kid and really worked for it. So, while I'm here, I’m doing everything I can to stay here as long as I can.” (J Crouse - MLB.com - Jan 7, 2023)

  • June 5, 2024: When Henry Davis was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on May 3, coincidence would have it that the team’s first series was in Louisville. That’s where the Pirates catcher first made his mark as a ballplayer, at the University of Louisville. His alma mater.

    Maybe it could also be the home of a bit of a revival.

    Davis’ younger brother, Morgan, is a pitcher for the University of Louisville now, so the two went to the fastball machine and turned it up as high as it could go
    . For three days before his assignment to Indianapolis started, Davis swung there.
     
    “[I wanted to] do something where I couldn’t think about anything,” Davis said
    . “If I’m thinking about anything in that moment, I’m not going to have success. It’s very similar to how the big league game is. People talk about how the speed of the game speeds up, but the second I did that without thinking about anything, it went back to what I’ve done my whole life, my whole career.

  • Davis was recalled from Indianapolis after he tore up Triple-A pitching, hitting .296 with seven home runs and a 1.078 OPS over 101 trips to the plate. He kicked off his second stint in the Majors with a double while catching a shutout as the Pirates beat the Dodgers, 1-0, to open a three-game set at PNC Park.

    It’s a good start, but Davis still has plenty to prove
    .
     
    Davis’ professional career hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing since being selected first overall in the 2021 MLB Draft, but any issues usually stemmed from an injury
    . This April was different. Davis just flat out struggled at the plate.

    Through 23 games in the Majors before being optioned, he hit just
    .162 with only three extra-base hits, no home runs and 29 strikeouts in 83 plate appearances. The Pirates challenged him this past offseason to grow as a catcher, which he fully bought into. His growth defensively compared to 2023 is undeniable, and it played a big part in him being named the Opening Day starting catcher.

  • But Davis needs to hit, too. When he was sent to the Minors, the Pirates gave him a new set of challenges to try to get him back to the hitter they thought they had in ‘23.

    “I think you're going to see a setup that's very similar to what we saw last year, an approach that we saw last year,” manager Derek Shelton said
    . “I really feel confident in the fact that we sent him down with a solid message and he bought into it, and did a really good job.

    Mechanically, it’s apparent to see how Davis’ stance has changed
    . He stood more upright to start the year. Now, he’s back to a crouch. His hand position and bat angle have also reverted back to closer to where he was in 2023.
     
    Davis also made some changes to his mental approach
    . He wouldn’t say he regrets that first month of the 2024 season, because he was able to learn from it, but it did mean he had to take a hard look at himself. In that self-reflection, he came to accept that it’s OK he didn’t have to focus on having the perfect swing, the perfect preparation for a certain aspect.
    He didn’t have to be perfect
    . He had to be Henry.

    “I’m getting back to [where] I’m looking for a pitch over the heart of the plate and I want to be on time,” Davis said
    . “That’s what I thought about my whole life. Obviously, I take pride in preparation and I want to be as prepared as I can be in the box. But at the same time, just trusting in my ability, trusting in what I do before the game and just let it happen.

    Time will tell if Davis’ changes will translate to more Major League success
    . Getting a plus bat in the lineup would be a major boost, and Davis’ strong rapport with Jared Jones could only help the rookie pitcher. 

    If nothing else, it looks like Davis’ confidence is back
    .
    “As high as can be,” he said
    . “I feel like myself.” (A Stumpf - MLB.com - June 5, 2024)

Batting
  • Davis has good bat speed that can produce back spin and get the ball to carry. He has a 55 grade hit tool and 60 grade power.

    Davis’ setup at the plate is a bit unorthodox, but even though he missed considerable time in 2022, he still showed that he’s likely going to hit, and with plenty of power. He has a good approach at the plate, showing off excellent pitch recognition, and he can hit the ball hard to all fields. The right-handed hitter does crowd the plate, a big reason why he got hit 20 times in 2022 (which led to the wrist ailment) and it’s something he might need to adjust to avoid the injury bug. (BA - Spring 2023)

  • Henry packs considerable strength into his brawny 6-foot-2 frame, and it translates to easy plus power. Davis' barrel control and flat bat path allow him to hit all types of pitch shapes. He cuts an unorthodox presence in the batter's box. Davis sinks into a wide stance, lifting the bat just above his shoulder, sans batting gloves, and then bends forward at the waist, unwilling to cede any ground on the inside part of the plate. Therein lies the problem.

    Davis, an intense competitor convicted in his approach, was hit by nearly as many pitches (20) as he had extra-base hits (23) in 2022. The Pirates have tried to convince Davis to move off the plate to maintain his health and development. (Mark Chiarelli - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2023)

  • While Henry doesn’t do it conventionally, with a bit of an unorthodox setup and right-handed swing, few doubt he’s going to hit. He walked more than he struck out at Louisville, recognizing pitches well and making consistent hard contact. He can hit it out to all fields and though he can get a little pull-happy at times, he manages his strikeout rate quite well. (Spring 2022)

  • Henry's swing is tailored to combat modern pitching, even if it looks a bit unorthodox. He greets pitchers with an open, crouched stance, cocks his hands back during his load, then attacks with an ample leg kick and a stride that looks like he’s closing back up as he steps toward pitchers.

  • While he doesn't have a pretty right-handed swing, Davis makes it work at the plate and has a higher offensive ceiling than most catchers. He recognizes pitches, manages the strike zone well and makes repeated hard contact, even if his stroke lengthens and he gets a bit pull-happy at times. His strength and controlled aggression could produce more than 20 homers per season while he hits for a solid average and draws plenty of walks. (Spring 2021)

  • Henry controls the zone well, brings some pop to the pull-side and has gotten more fluid in his actions at the plate.

  • Davis' most significant adjustments came by way of his swing. It had brought him a lot of success in high school, but it wasn’t mechanically refined.

  • It still is considered unorthodox, but Davis admits that in order to compete with it, he needed to adjust not only his swing, but he needed to learn how to become a good hitter, “because somebody who is a good hitter with a bad swing can really compete. Whereas if you’re a bad hitter with a good swing you don’t really have a chance.”

    “As a young player, especially coming out of high school, you’re accustomed to success, you really want to win a spot when you’re coming into university, you want to get better, and you want to start,” Davis said. “You don’t want to change because you’re comfortable.

    “But to be a great player, you have to let go of ego and be willing to make the adjustments and risk being uncomfortable along that process of finding out how good you can really be as a player—and specifically as a hitter for me. When I was a young player, I wanted to hold onto what I knew and what got me there, but if you want to get better, you’ve got to trust the people who are there for you.” (Alexis Brudnicki - Baseball America - July, 2021)

  • Oct 2022: Henry Davis’ first full season didn’t go as well as he, or the Pirates, hoped. Being the No. 1 pick in a Draft comes with a healthy dose of expectations.

    It started well enough, with Davis quickly hitting his way from High-A Greensboro, where he had a 1.035 OPS, to Double-A Altoona, the kind of quick promotion teams love to see from college hitters.

    But then Davis got hit on the wrist by a pitch, the same left wrist that had been hit earlier in the season, and he didn’t return to any kind of action until late August. He never did get on track in Double-A, with a .703 OPS in 31 games. But he’s trying to be a glass half full guy about the experience and seize the chance to make up for some lost time in the Arizona Fall League.

    “I was thankful for the opportunity,” said Davis, the Pirates’ top prospect and No. 19 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. “You learn a lot of lessons regardless of the things that happen and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to continue playing here.”

    Davis is getting the opportunity to work on his defense and make up for some of those lost at-bats, both at catcher and at DH, for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. Especially since he missed so many reps at the upper levels of the Pirates’ system this year, this level of play allows him to play some catch up.

    “It’s just another opportunity to play against really good competition,” Davis said. “As you see better players, it’s going to make everyone get better. It’s just a really great opportunity to hit on a bunch of different areas that are going to make myself better.”

  • One thing Pirates fans aren’t going to see during Davis’ time in Arizona is him playing other positions. The former Louisville standout is here as a priority prospect behind the plate, and he wants to prove to anyone who doubted his ability to stick behind the plate that he can not only stay there . . . but excel. If there were any doubts about his intentions, one only had to listen to his response when he was asked about his two-game foray in right field with Altoona. “It was fine,” he said tersely.

    The other thing Davis can’t really work on is how much of a baseball magnet he seems to be. Davis got hit a fair amount as a Louisville junior, 11 HBP in 50 games, but it rose to another level in his first season as a pro. Davis got plunked 20 times in 59 games. “I don’t know how much more I can try and get out of the way when they’re hitting me in the back or wherever,” Davis said. “But I’m going to try and do my best to protect my hands and other areas that are more vulnerable.” (J Mayo - MLB.com - Oct 14, 2022)

  • July 21, 2023:  Davis became the first player with a two-homer game against Shohei Ohtani.
Fielding
  • Henry has outstanding defensive tools behind the plate, exhibiting quick and explosive actions for a near-average 45 grade. But his arm is a 60 grade, at least.

    Scouts from other organizations have voiced doubts about Davis’ ability to catch long-term in the big leagues, as he can be a bit stiff behind the dish. The Pirates love his work ethic and his plus-plus arm is an asset.

    He did get a taste of right field in 2022, where his arm and instincts worked well in case catching doesn’t stick. (BA - Spring 2023)

  • Davis' catching lags behind his bat. He's a stiff mover who needs to continue to clean up his footwork and pitch framing. Davis' arm strength is his calling card, but evaluators note he has struggled with inaccuracy so far as a professional. Some wonder whether a corner outfield position may be a better long-term fit considering his throwing arm. (BAPH - Spring, 2023)

  • There were more questions about Davis’ defensive ability, though he has one of the strongest arms in the game. The Pirates were encouraged by his early work behind the plate, with pitchers in the system appearing to like throwing to him. He’s a natural leader, one who not only wants to catch but wants to be the best catcher in baseball, giving the Bucs confidence that he’ll put in the work to be fine as a big league backstop while putting up huge offensive numbers. (Spring 2022)

  • Scouts have adored his elite, 70 grade throwing arm dating back to high school while also harboring longstanding concerns about his blocking and receiving skills at catcher. Pro scouts didn’t get much time to evaluate Davis this year, but he’s athletic enough to handle catching and some of the defensive concerns could soon be allayed by the introduction of automatic balls and strikes. (Spring, 2022)

  • Davis' standout tool is his plus-plus arm strength. He erased 34 percent of would-be base-stealers in his first two college seasons while also displaying quick footwork and good throwing accuracy. His receiving lacks consistency and he sometimes struggles to handle quality stuff, but he looked better in 2021 and should be able to remain behind the plate. He's quicker than most backstops and conceivably could try third base or an outfield corner if the Pirates decide they want his bat to get to Pittsburgh quickly. (Spring 2021)

  • Davis has big-time arm strength, 1.89 pop times in games, 1.78 in drills. He is very quick in his transfers. He has a 70-grade cannon for an arm.

  • Henry excels in all areas defensively. That is what sets him apart, his great defense as a catcher.

  • Coaches praise his work ethic and believe he’s improved in that area of his game.

    Henry is improving his receiving and blocking and is a willing student.

  • Davis’ highest-touted tool is his arm.  In his first two college seasons, he threw out 34% of attempted base-stealers. And in his junior year, he’s turned it up a notch, with his caught-stealing percentage hovering around 50%.  (Sepe-Chepuru - mlb.com - 7/11/2021)
  • In 2023 for the Pirates, Davis played mostly right field. But he also caught two games. (Baseball-Reference.com - Feb 2024)
Running
  • Henry has been clocked at 6.85 in the 60, which is 45 grade speed, impressive for a catcher.
Career Injury Report
  • Aug. 24, 2021: Davis was placed on injured list with right oblique strain.  Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said that generally for position players, oblique injuries can take up to 28 days to heal, but the Pirates are ready to rule out his return to the field until he undergoes imaging beyond the initial tests in Asheville, N.C.

    “Right now, that's why we're learning more about the MRI,” Tomczyk said. “That will help us get a true, definitive prognosis, but what we know now is he sustained a right oblique and he's on the 7-day IL, so at least he won't be active for seven. At this stage, we anticipate it being a bit longer.”

  • May 25, 2022: Davis was on the Minor League IL. An X-ray revealed that Davis has a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist, per Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk. Davis sustained the injury after getting hit by a pitch with Single-A Greensboro and played through the injury in his first two games with Double-A Altoona. 

  • July 8-August 30, 2022: Davis was shut down for a few weeks. Davis, whose last game was July 2, was placed on the 7-day injured list July 8 with a left wrist injury, the same wrist that was hit by a pitch earlier this season, causing him to miss several weeks.

  • Aug. 21-Sept 15, 2023: The Pirates placed Davis on the 10-day injured list due to a strained right hand. He said the hand injury, which is concentrated around his right thumb, has been lingering for a while, though there have been times it's felt better. Things worsened over the past few days, leading to the IL stint. 

  • June 14, 2024; Davis was removed from the win over the Rockies in the seventh inning after he began to exhibit concussion-like symptoms.“He took a shot, I think an inning before, and then came up to me and said he didn’t look right,” said manager Derek Shelton. “So we took him out of the game. He’s going through the [concussion protocol] right now.

    June 15, 2024: Davis was on the Il with concussion
    .