No. 1 pick Henry Davis homers in pro debut

August 3rd, 2021

Talk about not wasting time.

Henry Davis, the Pittsburgh Pirates' No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, homered and doubled in his professional debut on Tuesday in the Florida Complex League.

Starting at catcher and batting third against the FCL Rays, Davis doubled in a run in his second at-bat of the game. His next time up, he launched a two-run dinger. He struck out in the fifth inning and was lifted for a defensive replacement in the sixth inning, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the Pirates Black squad's 16-10 loss in the first game of a doubleheader.

“I think it would have been better if we won the games, but to be back on the field and playing, it was really good to be back out there,” Davis said, noting that the work he'd done at Louisville and with the Pirates made the layoff since his last collegiate game in May feel insignificant.

A two-base knock may seem like a satisfying first pro hit, but Davis was happier with the contact he made in the opening frame, when he flied out to center field on the first pitch he saw. After that hard-struck ball, the dribbler up the left-field line that went for a double felt like a bit of an anticlimax.

"I barreled the ball in the first at-bat," he said, "and then I rolled over a changeup [in the third inning]. I got out the first one and got a hit on the second, but I guess that’s baseball.”

He did enjoy the home run, which came on a 2-0 heater Davis drilled out to right-center.

“I was just looking for a fastball away and trying to get a good swing on it," he said, admitting he knew it was gone upon contact. "It was a cool experience." 

The former Louisville catcher was ranked fifth on MLB Pipeline's Top 250 Draft Prospects list ahead of being selected first overall.

"I couldn't be more excited,” said Davis upon signing with the Pirates just a week after the Draft. “Getting signed right away, it's important to me. I want to get playing. There's no time to waste really."

The 21-year-old signed with the Bucs for $6.5 million. His high offensive ceiling, strong arm and quickness made him a potential third baseman or corner outfielder in the eyes of some scouts, but he was thrilled to make his pro debut behind the plate.

“It was great. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from the staff at Pirate City," he said. "The people I’m working with are very smart. They’re excellent at what they do, and I’m trying to take full advantage of that and translate it into games, and to see progress is great.” 

Davis batted .370/.482/.663 with 15 homers and 10 steals in his junior year with Louisville. His standout tool, though, is his plus-plus arm strength. He threw out 34 percent of would-be basestealers in his first two college seasons while also displaying quick footwork and good throwing accuracy.