June 19, 2024

After a month at Triple-A Indianapolis, former first overall pick Henry Davis is set to return to the majors. Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates are calling Davis up for their next game against the Dodgers on Tuesday. The corresponding roster move hasn’t been announced, but it’s likely that backup catcher Grant Koch will be optioned to Triple-A after recently making his big league debut.

Davis, the top pick of the 2021 draft, posted a .213/.302/.351 slash line over 255 plate appearances following his MLB debut last season. Despite playing just two games as a catcher in his rookie season, he was expected to have a larger role behind the plate in 2024 after fellow rookie catcher Endy Rodriguez underwent season-ending UCL surgery. Injuries to Yasmani Grandal and Jason Delay further opened up opportunities for Davis, but he struggled both offensively and defensively.

Pitch-framing has been a challenge for Davis, and the Defensive Runs Saved metric rated him at -2 over 184 1/3 innings as a catcher this season. Offensively, Davis managed only a .162/.280/.206 slash line and struck out 29 times in 83 plate appearances.

Analysis: After Henry Davis debuts, will Pirates keep dipping down to the  minors for help? | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On May 3, the decision was made to send Davis to Indianapolis for more development, where he responded by hitting .286/.433/.649 with seven home runs over 97 plate appearances. Although Davis had only 63 Triple-A plate appearances before his initial MLB promotion, his strong minor league performance might have forced the Pirates’ hand prematurely.

Jason Delay recently began a minor league rehab assignment and, though eligible for activation from the 60-day IL this week, will need significant time to ramp up after nearly the entire season missed due to meniscus surgery. Joey Bart was also placed on the 10-day IL with a thumb injury, while Grandal remains healthy but has struggled offensively. Given the Pirates’ lack of depth and Davis’ importance to their rebuild, he is expected to get ample playing time as the team’s regular catcher. Andrew McCutchen holds the everyday DH spot, so Davis could occasionally play as an outfielder to keep his bat in the lineup, but Grandal is likely to move into a backup role.

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