Pittsburgh Pirates calling up former No. 1 overall Draft pick and former Greensboro Grasshoppers’ catcher Henry Davis: Davis will see quite a bit of playing time in RF with Big Buccos

Pittsburgh Pirates calling up former No. 1 overall Draft pick and former Greensboro Grasshoppers’ catcher Henry Davis
from www.mlb.com:

MILWAUKEE — As Henry Davis sat in the media room at Peoples Natural Gas Field, the home of Double-A Altoona, in early April, Davis crystallized his desires.

“I want to be in Pittsburgh right now,” Davis said at the time. “I think everybody in the locker room feels the same way.”

Davis, the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and Pittsburgh’s No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, made that proclamation about two months ago.

Come June 19, the waiting game will officially be over.

The Pirates are promoting Davis from Triple-A Indianapolis to the Majors, manager Derek Shelton confirmed following the Bucs’ 5-2 loss to the Brewers on Sunday at American Family Field.

“I’m excited,” Shelton said. “He deserves to be here. I think he’s shown that.”

Davis began the season with Double-A Altoona to allow him and catcher Endy Rodríguez, the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, to have an opportunity to catch every day. In 41 games with Altoona, Davis hit .284/.433/.547 with 10 home runs, seven steals and a 165 wRC+ before earning a promotion to Indianapolis on June 6.

The 23-year-old wasted no time acclimating himself to the next level. In 10 games with Indianapolis, Davis hit .286/.432/.514 with one home run, two steals and a 142 wRC+ before earning a promotion to Pittsburgh.

With Pittsburgh, a good chunk of Davis’ playing time might come in right field, not catcher.

During his week-and-a-half with Indianapolis, Davis spent more time in right field (48 innings) compared to catcher (38 innings). On Sunday, Shelton confirmed that the Pirates’ current two catchers — Austin Hedges and Jason Delay — will remain on the roster.

“We’ll be using [Davis] in different ways,” Shelton said.

“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can as fast as possible [to] be in a position where I can help the team win if I’m out there,” Davis told MLB.com in May. “Taking feedback from the coaches and other outfielders is really helpful. All around, just trying to get in a spot where I can help.”

Davis projects to provide more offensive production than Hedges (.472 OPS in 136 PAs) and Delay (.761 OPS in 94 PAs), but Hedges and Delay have provided value on the defensive end. Hedges has five defensive runs saved, leads the league with seven catcher framing runs and ranks in the 96th percentile of framing, while Delay has two defensive runs saved and ranks in the 75th percentile of framing.

While Davis is poised to spend time in right field, general manager Ben Cherington has said on multiple occasions that the organization views Davis as a catcher. Additionally, when discussing Davis’ promotion from Double-A to Triple-A in early June, Cherington said that if Davis was to be promoted to the Majors, he would be promoted as a catcher.

“If we are thinking longer term, my view is the best outcome for the Pirates and for both of them would be to be Major League catchers,” Cherington said of Davis and Rodríguez on June 6. “If they can do the things they’re both capable of doing offensively and handle the defensive responsibilities of catcher, which we think they both can, that’s a massive impact. … So, longer term, that’s still our focus.

“We see all the time that, short-term, on a day-to-day basis, we do all kinds of things to put the team in the best position to win tonight. That’s a balance. We’ll balance the short-term and long-term. But, the best long-term outcome, in my opinion — and in [the organization’s] opinion — is that they’re catching a lot of games in the Major Leagues.”

Davis arrives in Pittsburgh at a time when the Pirates need a spark.

Last Sunday, the Pirates had a 34-30 record and owned the top spot in the NL Central after taking two of three from the Mets. Now, the Pirates are 34-36 after being swept by the Cubs and Brewers.

With the surging Reds having won eight consecutive games and 10 of their last 12, a run that has coincided with the decision to call up electric shortstop Elly De La Cruz, the Pirates find themselves third in the division.

“We have to execute,” Shelton said. “We did not execute offensively in this series. We have to be better. We were not good in this series and we have to figure out a way to be better.”