As soon as the Indianapolis Indians announced their starting lineup for Sunday’s game, social media blew up with potential conspiracy theories about a specific player missing from the lineup.
Based on the projected ‘super two’ deadline, combined with the schedule, it was a pretty safe bet to assume someone was going to get called up for the Chicago Cubs home series.
Turns out that bet would have paid off, as 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis will be joining the Pirates on Monday.
Davis will look to help spark a team that is struggling through another prolonged slump, losing six games straight — all against divisional opponents. The losing streak has them currently third place in the NL Central, trailing the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds.
Death, taxes, Henry Davis crushing baseballs. pic.twitter.com/uhCx8fIv5a
— Young Bucs (@YoungBucsPIT) May 9, 2023
Carmen Mlodzinski became the first Ben Cherington draft pick to make the majors and play, but the former Louisville catcher will likely be the most significant, with the expectations that come with going first overall.
With Davis up and ready to get his major league career underway, thinking about the significance of him getting the call, I had a few thoughts on the situation.
Let’s Not Compare The Pirates To The Reds
For that matter, other team’s prospects in general. The Reds started their first wave of calling up their top prospects not too long ago, and now they’ve won eight in a row and are one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Sometimes it’s easy just to assume all prospects are the same, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because the Reds are having success immediately doesn’t mean it becomes an automatic for the Pirates. Julio Rodriguez really struggled out the game before taking off, same thing with Gunnar Henderson this year.
For every Corbin Carroll who was exactly what was expected and then some, there are others who stumbled out the gate.
IF you want to make any comparisons, after the season would be the best time, allowing things to play out. The Reds may be a good team now, it’d be perfectly understandable, but the law of averages says they hit a wall at some point. So, how they respond to hitting a wall will determine just how far they go.
Davis Helps The Offense, But By How Much?
It seems like the Pirates won’t press Davis into action behind the plate, as Jason Delay and Austin Hedges will be hanging around even after the roster move on Monday. While Davis will certainly get some time behind the plate, it seems his immediate impact in the lineup is either going to be in the outfield or as the DH.
His offensive upside is immense, but the team itself would get the most value out of him behind the plate, where his presence alone would likely be an improvement by default based on the current performance offensively at the position.
Andrew McCutchen has a hold on the DH position, and while he’s still potentially a bigger impact bat than Josh Palacios and Connor Joe, the offense maybe doesn’t get as much of an offensive boost with him in right field.
The catcher catches this one… in right field?
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 17, 2023
Defensively, he’s made strides behind the plate, to the point the questions about him staying there are slowly starting to fade, but there is more work to be done. He’s shown a lot of the tools that made him successful behind the plate translate to right field, and could give him the overall best chance to make an impact, at least defensively.
Help Still Needed
The Pirates need pitching, badly. First the rotation’s depth was hit pretty hard, but the bullpen has slowly caught up — with Colin Holderman and Jose Hernandez being recent additions to the injured list.
Having Davis in the lineup may take some pressure off the pitching staff by adding a few runs here and there, but won’t do much long-term if things keep trending the way they are.
Since the start of May, while the offense has certainly had its issues, the pitching staff has been among the worst in the league.
So, while Davis making the majors is a huge step forward for this organization, being that they are still within reach of the division lead, more is needed.
PIRATES PROSPECTS DAILY
By Tim Williams
The Pirates have now lost six straight games, but they’re getting a boost with Henry Davis. We’ll have The Book on Davis in the morning, and I’ll give my thoughts on what to expect. The short preview: Davis seems like he could be ready with the bat while playing right field. I wouldn’t count on him helping much behind the plate. We assume his bat will flawlessly translate to the majors, regardless of position. I think he’s got a better chance of adjusting to the majors quicker in right field. The Pirates could definitely use the offensive boost.
Looking for the nightly game reports, including the minor league action? Check out Pirates Prospects Live.
The daily Prospect Watch runs at noon, and features three players a day. In the latest edition, I wrote about the recently promoted Jared Jones, along with Matt Gorski, an outfielder who could help in Pittsburgh by the end of the year. John Dreker had lower level sleeper Tony Blanco Jr.
The Pirates saw another reliever go down, with Rule 5 lefty Jose Hernandez hitting the injured list. They replaced him with Ryan Borucki.
Missed yesterday? Anthony wrote about the aggressive push the Pirates gave Jared Jones.