Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Henry Davis demoted: Pirates’ No. 1 draft pick in 2021 optioned to Triple-A, veteran Yasmani Grandal activated

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Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Henry Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 MLB draft, was optioned down to Triple-A Indianapolis, the team announced Friday. The move opened a roster spot for veteran backstop Yasmani Grandal. Grandal missed most of spring training and the start of the regular season with plantar fasciitis and was activated off the injured list.

Davis, 24, began the season as Pittsburgh’s everyday catcher, though he hasn’t hit and the defensive metrics rate his work behind the plate poorly. He owns a .160/.280/.206 line with no home runs and a ghastly 34.9% strikeout rate in 83 plate appearances. Davis has also been worth minus-3 defensive runs saved with negative framing numbers at the catcher.

The defense behind the plate has been questioned since Davis was drafted. The Pirates played him in right field almost exclusively during his MLB debut last summer, though Pittsburgh has a full outfield — Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, Michael A. Taylor — plus they need Davis to get on track at the plate. He’ll go to Triple-A and try to get moving in the right direction.

“The biggest thing is that, offensively, there’s some adjustments that have to be made,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said Friday. “I think there’s some adjustments that the major league game is going to show him that need to be made. It’s one of those things with guys coming off (the injured list), it’s a chance for Henry to catch his breath a little bit.”

All told, Davis owns a .201/.297/.317 slash line with seven home runs in 338 big league plate appearances. He’s been roughly 30% worse than the league average hitter after adjusting for ballpark. With the caveat that catchers have a steep learning curve, that is obviously well south of what you’d want from a top prospect, nevermind the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Joey Bart, who came over in a trade with the San Francisco Giants last month, had taken over as the primary catcher the last two weeks or so. He’s started seven of the team’s last 12 games. Bart, 27, is hitting .219/.359/.531 with three home runs in 39 plate appearances, and iffy defensive numbers. He was the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft.

The Pirates enter play Friday with a 14-18 record. They started the season 9-2 and have since lost 16 of their last 21 games.

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