The team at MCB is covering the draft all month long. Be sure to check back every day for new content related to the 2021 MLB draft. Today, our series profiling the potential draft picks for the Detroit Tigers looks at Henry Davis, a college catcher out of Louisville.
Henry Davis Background
Despite a strong high school career in the part-time baseball state of New York, Henry Davis went undrafted out of high school in 2018 and enrolled at Louisville. He played a handful of games in his first two years there with some inconsistent success before bursting onto the scene his junior season.
Davis has likely benefited from the 2021 baseball season more than any other player in the draft. While he tore the cover off the ball in 2020 over 43 at-bats, maintaining his success at the plate over a much larger sample size in 2021 has led draft analysts to push him to the top of their boards. This season, Davis has slashed .370/.482/.663, good for a 1.145 OPS while launching 15 home runs and walking more than striking out.
As a college catcher who has strong intangibles behind the plate and a bat that projects to be above average at the major league level, he is one of the safer prospects in this year’s draft.
Henry Davis Scouting Report
Henry Davis boasts the greatest combination of intangibles and track record of any prospect in the draft. Going back to the start of the 2020 season, Davis now has a sample size of 250 plate appearances with elite production playing against strong competition in one of the top college divisions.
Davis doesn’t have a textbook perfect swing but instead relies on his strong pitch recognition and strength to drive the ball. While he isn’t super projectable like many of the top high schoolers in the draft, his max exit velocity of 109.2 mph speaks to his ability to hit for power now. In 2020, he often got knocked for selling out to the pull side, but he has improved his approach this season to hit the ball to all fields. Possibly most impressively, Davis only struck out only 11% of the time this season, an impressive mark for someone who hits the ball as hard as he does.
Behind the plate, Davis is seen as an elite leader and competitor. By all accounts, he knows how to call a game and manage a pitching staff extremely well. His carrying tool is his 70-grade arm, which he has utilized to throw out nearly half of would-be base stealers. His blocking is slightly below average at best and his receiving is a weakness, though receiving may not matter much by the time Davis debuts with the emergence of robot umpires.
Will the Detroit Tigers draft Henry Davis?
Henry Davis has been a mainstay inside the top five picks of recent MLB Draft mock drafts. A handful of major draft publications have even listed him as the preferred option for the Pittsburgh Pirates at pick number one.
Davis is one of the few prospects expected to land in the top 5 that the Detroit Tigers have yet to be linked to. It is widely expected that the Tigers prefer high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer while planning on a few other high schoolers like Brady House and Jackson Jobe as possible under-slot fallback options.
In my opinion, it would be hard to justify taking Davis over Mayer or Jordan Lawlar, his fellow top-ranked shortstop prospect, as well as polished pitcher Jack Leiter. However, if the Detroit Tigers opt for the college bat route, Davis would be a good option.