Seeking an under slot prospect with the No. 1 selection, the Pittsburgh Pirates brass kept many executives and insiders around the league guessing on what direction they were going with the No. 1 overall pick.
The direction many saw them going was the high school shortstop route with left handed hitting shortstop Marcel Mayer widely viewed as the likely pick, a prospect many draft pundits have called a future superstar, with Jordan Lawlar a close second.
Instead the tight lipped Pirates surprised at No. 1 in selection catcher Henry Davis out of Louisville. Regarded by many as the best college hitter in the draft, Davis slashed a line of .370/.482/.663 with 15 home runs and led the ACC with a .486 on-base percentage.
It was no secret the Pirates planned to go under slot at No. 1. They made it known with leaks weeks ago to get that out of in the opening in getting ahead of themselves as to why top college pitcher Jack Leiter who went No. 2, was not a consideration at No. 2.
The Pirates brass have done well in getting most of the local media to buy into what they’re selling.
Still, this isn’t some Bryan Bullington type pick where the Pirates completely reached at No. 1 for money reasons on someone who had zero reason to even be considered at No. 1.
While the Pirates surely shied away from taking the most upside prospect at No. 1 and criticism for that is warranted, Davis still came into this draft as a top-5 regarded prospect by many. And Henry lines up with the window of being able to put what the Pirates feel will be a respectable team on the field by 2023 or 2024.
“He checks a lot of boxes,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington said.
Henry becomes the Pirates highest selection of a catcher since they took Tony Sanchez 4th overall in 2009, a prospect who was widely considered a major reach at the time, a selection that was money driven during a time there was not a bonus draft pool system in place.
For this franchise, you have hit big when you pick this high, especially at No. 1 and they better hope Henry Davis becomes the next Buster Posey.
However, will Davis actually stay behind the plate?
One potential knock of the selection is there’s not a consensus that Davis will be able to stay at catcher at the MLB level. He has a great arm but needs a lot of work in other areas.
“We did not take him because he was a catcher,” said Cherington. “But, I know one of things he feels strongly about is helping guys around him and certainly the pitchers, so we’re excited about that.”
Cherington raved Sunday night multiple times about the person they are getting in Henry.
And the facts are the draft board for the Pittsburgh Pirates is going to be different than a lot of other teams who have owners that actually strive to put a championship team on the field at some point.
“We took him because was the top player on the board,” said Cherington. “That’s where he was after all of the debate and we are really excited have him with the Pirates.”