Bucs sign No. 1 pick Davis: 'No time to waste'

July 18th, 2021

PITTSBURGH -- If had it his way, he’d probably be in Bradenton, Fla., already getting to work with the Pirates, instead of being unveiled as the top overall Draft pick on Sunday morning at PNC Park.

But the Pirates’ No. 1 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft got to spend the weekend in Pittsburgh with his family, exploring what the club hopes will be his new home in a few years’ time, before signing his entry contract on Sunday.

The Pirates spent all the time leading up to the Draft making sure they had the right guy. Now, the right guy is no longer in wait mode. He’s hungry to compete.

"I couldn't be more excited,” Davis said. “Getting signed right away, it's important to me. I want to get playing. There's no time to waste really."

The Pirates were able to go under slot value to sign Davis, as they inked him to a $6.5 million bonus, sources told MLB.com. That’s well below the $8.42 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.

Davis is the first No. 1 selection by the Pirates since they took Gerrit Cole first in the 2011 Draft, and he is the fifth No. 1 pick in franchise history. The Louisville catcher hit 15 home runs in 50 games while producing a 1.145 OPS with the Cardinals this past season.

The Pirates will send Davis to the Florida Complex League in Bradenton, where all six of the Pirates’ official Draft signings before Davis were sent. That’s by design.

“Our guess is Henry is pretty ready to go, but we'll just get started there and just get into a baseball routine again,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “We happen to have a team there in the Florida Complex League so we can introduce, just get [him] back into game activity in Bradenton. It's the easy way to do it.”

Judging by his batting practice on Sunday before the Pirates’ game with the Mets, Davis looks ready to go, too. The right-handed hitter flew baseballs over the deep notch in left field and put some souvenirs into the visiting bullpen. His younger brother, Morgan, even got to take a round with Henry cheering him on.

Davis chatted with Ka’ai Tom and Jared Oliva on the field in addition to other players throughout the morning, plus he spent some time with members of the Pirates’ Major League staff. Pirates manager Derek Shelton came out to watch Davis take hacks in the cage after speaking with him on a visit to Pittsburgh before the Draft.

“He’s a good kid, man,” Shelton said. “He’s a leader. He wants to win. He likes people to get after it a little bit. He’s got some intensity to him, and I like that.”

It’s that mixture of major tools and mindset that made Cherington and his front office come to the decision on Davis. Now that the Pirates have their No. 1 pick signed, they can get to work trying to sign the rest of their Draft picks, knowing they’ve got a potential cornerstone of the next playoff team in the fold.

"I think what was really important to us was two things,” Cherington said of picking Davis. “No. 1, we want to find the best player in the country, and No. 2, we also want to find the right person that we could work together with to help us build a winning team in Pittsburgh.

“We feel very excited and honored and confident we found that person in Henry Davis.”