When we were covering all of the rankings for the top prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, Henry Davis was always among the top three prospects with Endy Rodriguez and Termarr Johnson. The latter two had stints on the Injured List already this year. Davis came away with an easy choice for the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month award for April.
Davis put up a .273/.452/.655 slash line in 73 plate appearances in April. He tied for the system lead with six homers. He drew 15 walks, only got hit with three pitches (that’s a good thing) and he went 4-for-4 in steals. He had just three runners test his arm all month, in a time when steals are a bigger part of the game, thanks to baseball making it easier for the runners.
There were people (myself included) wondering if Davis would start the 2023 season in a platoon at Indianapolis with Rodriguez, or whether he would return to Altoona. The early hitting numbers suggest that he might be ready to move up to Indianapolis, but I don’t see a rush to get him there due to his defense.
Davis hasn’t caught much in pro ball due to multiple injuries costing him time. He came into the system with the need to do work on his defense, and he hasn’t had the time to do it. While I wouldn’t rule out him hitting his way to the majors by the end of this year, it feels like the defense won’t be ready in that somewhat short amount of time.
Maybe he’s an added bat for the Pirates attempting to make a postseason run in September. If that happens, it would put the Pirates in the awkward position of either letting him work on his defense at the big league level in 2024, or returning him to Indianapolis to start the season.
Those are all just best case scenarios playing out. For now he just needs playing time behind the plate. He’s only played outfield once this year and it did not go well. For that to be a real option, he’s going to need to get more time out there. Whatever they decide to do, playing time this year is key.
TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS
Player of the Month: Luis Ortiz 2.81 ERA, 22:8 K/BB, 25.2 IP
Analysis: Luis Ortiz had a bit of an odd month. His first two starts saw him pile up strikeouts and high pitch counts. He was better in his second two starts, in which he had three total strikeouts. His last start of the month was both efficient and he was missing bats until the final inning of his night went south a bit. He finished with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 25.2 innings, with 22 strikeouts. He average 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings last year, so he’s off of that type of pace.
Cody Bolton allowed one run over ten innings, while striking out 13 batters. That earned him a trip to the Pirates, where he made his debut over the weekend. Yohan Ramirez also earned a trip to the majors, with one earned run over eight innings, allowing five hits and two walks, to go along with 14 strikeouts. I allow a 3.00 maximum to qualify for these summaries. Hunter Stratton had a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings, but he really danced around the mine field. He gave up 12 hits and ten walks, while still striking out 19 batters.
Miguel Andujar is the only hitter for Indianapolis who had a strong month while seeing significant time. His performance already earned him a trip to the majors. He hit .301/.383/.530 in 94 plate appearances.
DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE
Player of the Month: Henry Davis .273/.452/.655, 6 HR, 4 SB, 73 PA
Analysis: Besides Davis, the three best hitters for Altoona are all players with significant Triple-A time. Mason Martin had a 1.027 OPS in 58 plate appearances, with three homers and 15 walks. Josh Palacios gets an asterisk because he split his time between Altoona and Indianapolis, not batting enough for either team to fit in the summary. However, he still had a 1.021 OPS over 70 plate appearances for the month. Veteran infielder Domingo Leyba put up a .927 OPS in 17 games.
Sean Sullivan had a terrific month, finishing with 11.2 shutout innings over three starts. He allowed eight hits and five walks, while striking out 12 batters. Travis MacGregor had a 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings, with a 3:13 BB/SO ratio. Jared Jones was injured in his third start, but not before he had a 2.63 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.
Juan Minaya allowed one earned run over nine innings, while striking out 11 hitters. Matt Eckelman had a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings over six games, including one start. He did well at keeping earned runs off of the board, but he walked nine batters. Nick Dombkowski allowed two runs over ten innings, while posting a 1:8 BB/SO ratio.
HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS
Player of the Month: Mike Jarvis .279/.405/.672, 6 HR, 8 SB, 74 PA
Analysis: Mike Jarvis had a huge month at the plate, capped by Player of the Week honors for the league. The 25-year-old has played four positions, while putting up a 1.077 OPS in 74 plate appearances. He leads the system with six homers and eight steals.
Jackson Glenn hit three homers on Sunday, which is how he got in this article. The 25-year-old was below the .800 OPS cutoff before that game. He is hitting .333/.400/.630 in 60 plate appearances. I thought about Jase Bowen for the Greensboro Player of the Month due to the age advantage he has over the Glenn and Jarvis. The 22-year-old hit .300/.380/.586 in 79 plate appearances, with five homers and five steals. I could have gone either way with the vote.
The 21-year-old Tsung-Che Cheng also had a terrific month, hitting .275/.359/.551 in 79 plate appearances, with three triples, four homers and seven steals.
Michell Miliano had quite a month of missing bats. Even with strikeouts high all around baseball, he is impressing early on. He gave up one run over 12 innings in April, while striking out 24 batters. Control has been a huge issue for him in the past.
Will Kobos shouldn’t be in Greensboro with his experience, but he’s doing all he can to get out. He tossed 9.1 shutout innings for the month. Cy Nielson allowed one earned run over 10.1 innings, while striking out 16 batters.
Braxton Ashcraft has a 2.51 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 14.1 innings split between Greensboro and Bradenton. He’s still early in his return from Tommy John surgery, but he’s been peppering the strike zone in every game.
LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS
Player of the Month: Enmanuel Terrero .319/.429/.522, 2 HR, 6 SB, 84 PA
Analysis: Enmanuel Terrero had an extremely impressive run after going 0-for-17 to start the season. He got his OPS up to .950 at the end of the month, collecting eight extra-base hits, 12 walks and six steals. He put up strong numbers in the Florida Complex League last year, so he’s becoming a player to watch.
In his third season at Bradenton, 20-year-old Alexander Mojica is off to a nice start, with an .844 OPS in 62 plate appearances. All of his value is in his bat, and he needs to hit well to make up for his lack of speed and defensive inefficiencies. So he can’t fall off this early pace.
Tres Gonzalez needs to move up soon. He’s the opposite of Mojica, with value in his speed and defense, allowing him to get away with average offensive numbers. However, he should have no trouble at Low-A with his experience/age. He had an .830 OPS in 82 plate appearances, while going 6-for-6 in steals.
Thomas Harrington threw shutout ball in three starts and got lit up in his other game. The 2022 first round pick should move quickly through this level. He finished the month with a 2.89 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.
Ryan Harbin tossed 7.1 scoreless innings over four appearances, with eight strikeouts and an 0.82 WHIP. Mike Walsh had seven shutout frames, an 0.71 WHIP and eight strikeouts. Elijah Birdsong threw 8.1 scoreless, with ten strikeouts. He walked five batters during that brief time.
Julian Bosnic allowed one run in 8.2 innings while striking out 15 batters. Yunior Thibo allowed two runs over 9.2 innings, despite allowing seven walks.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
So I assume based on the photo that Hank still hasn’t gone full Bonds with the armor.
Just me waiting for 6:40 pm………
Is Jason Delay going to be valuable enough to bring a decent middle reliever in a trade this summer to help with a pennant chase?
Pirates would be smart to deal him and bring up either Endy or Tank afterward.
I hope they start giving Delay at least half the at bats, don’t know if he’s on just a hot streak or developing into a major league hitter. If it’s the latter, a .260/.330/.420 slash with his defense makes a very valuable catcher.
Unless they sign Hedges to a modest two or three year extension during the season I think Delay is more valuable staying and helping Endy and Davis. Always need more than two capable MLB catchers to get through a season and both Davis and Endy could get DH at bats too.
They’re not extending Hedges. He’s the current mercenary catcher that teams bring in for a year to settle down their young rotations.
What jimmyz says!
Why is Davis never given a chance to play nor even mentioned as a first base option? That’s the position catchers often play when not behind the plate and one Endy plays sometimes. He’d likely be better there than in the outfield. It’s not like the Pirates have any high level first base prospects blocking the way.
Endy has taken reps at 2B as well
The arm and athleticism make him a better fit in RF…theoretically at least.
And it’s not like their OF depth is wow. Their best RHB for the OF in the system at this point is . . . who? Lolo Sanchez, maybe?
Agreed. Maybe not a better fit but a higher upside fit for sure. So it’s worth giving a shot before relegating him to first
honestly one of the more impressive things to me about davis is that he’s doing this with a modest (and probably downright low) .265 babip this year.
About 75 PA into the year his wrc+ is over 200 despite a low babip, and he’s walking as much as he’s striking out. it really isnt gonna take a ton more evidence to prove he’s mastered that level.
They seem pretty determined to keep him and endy at separate levels for the time being though i guess. whatever. no rush i guess with Jason “Him” Delay at the helm!
Has Ortiz been working in a third pitch much? I’m excited about his potential, especially if/when another starter goes down, but dude gonna need more pitches than I recall him using last year.
girl, that’s so 2010.
Now we just sling plus sliders 60% of the time.
He’s throwing a change, but not a ton of them.
Any updates on Termarr? Its early but I didn’t like this pick.
19 yrs old and didn’t have a spring training
They said he would be out a few days
Then it was a secre
Kid is struggeling on both sides
Was wondering the same thing. I really liked the pick. And the dude doesn’t turn 19 until next month.
Unfortunately I’ve see highlights but not many game to game at bats from Davis. Curious if people who have seen a lot of him think he will have success hitting at MLB level? Thanks.
I’ve seen Henry play alot
I’ve seen Henry miss alot of baseballs
I’ve seen Henry hit alot of baseballs:
I’ve seen Henry get hit with alot of baseballs
Doubtful you see Henry this year and it won’t be his bat blocking
He has made huge strides as a backstop but still needs alot of poilishing
BC has stated more than once, his bat won’t arrive before the GLOVE
Also, this FO waits until the player is eligible for R5, which for Davis is next year. That being said, even if he becomes backstop ready this summer, there’s a chance they will wait til next year no matter how the season turns out. Thats just the way of the Pirate world
Maybe the culture will change
He’s yet to face any competition that can actually attack him with intent, and his unorthodox swing has produced one of the more bizarre batted ball profiles you’ll see leading to every bit of his low BABIP’s being earned.
How much big league arms can exploit these peculiarities, and whether or not he can adjust, will be the defining question of his career.
Every batter pays that bill at some point, though.
And not all of them survive it.
I don’t wanna sound fatalistic about Hank, but he’s gonna have to figure out how to adjust.
Hank has the uncoachables. He seems like an absolute beast of a competitor. Let’s see how he coaches up when he hits that first competitive wall.
Short answer, yes
Is working on his defense just getting game action? I hear that a lot about Davis but don’t really understand what he does to improve it besides playing games. Just wondering.
Only 3 HBPs so far. The cloaking device is working!