Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis Makes Debut, What's Next?

Photo Credit: Jason Mackey/Post-Gazette

 Pittsburgh Pirates fans got a glimpse of the future on Tuesday, sort of, with first overall pick Henry Davis making his professional debut in the Florida Complex League (FCL).

While it wasn’t televised, but once word got out that Davis was expected to make his debut a lot of eyes kept close watch on the MiLB.com box score to see him penciled in the three-hole in the lineup as well as play catcher.

Let’s just say it was a pretty good start to his career.

Davis hit an RBI double for his first professional hit, and later hit a two-run home run. He finished the day 2-for-4 before being lifted in the game for Gustavo Polanco.

Now comes the question that everyone is going to be asking, how long till the Pirates move him up? Where should his next stop be? What kind of timetable are we going to see from him going forward?

Remembering that this is just one game, no matter how encouraging it was, but it will be interesting how the Pirates handle their top draft pick from 2021. 

There has been a lot of debate as to where Davis might play this year, with some thinking that an aggressive push to Greensboro shouldn't be out of the question. That's where I got to thinking, what kind of precedent is there where it comes to placing some of the top draft picks in recent history.

Year

Player

Draft Spot

Same Year

First Full Season

2020

Spencer Torkelson

1.1

DNP (COVID-19)

A+/AA

2019

Adley Rutschman

1.1

Rk-SS-A

AA

2018

Joey Bart

1.2

Rk-SS

A+/AA

2017

Brendan McKay

1.4

SS

Rk, A-, A+

2016

Nick Senzel

1.2

Rk, A-

A+, AA

2015

Dansby Swanson

1.1

A-

A+, AA

2014

Kyle Schwarber

1.4

SS, A-, A+

AA/AAA

2013

Kris Bryant

1.2

DNP

Rk, A-, A+

2012

Mike Zunino

1.3

A-, AA

AAA

2011

Anthony Rendon

1.6

DNP

Rk, SS, A+, AA

-Rk - Rookie League
-SS - Short Season
-A- - Low-A
-A+ - High-A
-AA - Double-A
-AAA - Triple-A

This is a list of the first college position player selected in each of the last ten drafts.

Spencer Torkelson and Adley Rutschman are in a weir position when it comes to their placement in the minors. Obviously Torkelson wasn't going to play due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the entire minor league season that year. That was also supposed to be Rutschman's first full season in professional baseball, so it's not really surprising he got the call to Double-A to start 2021.

An interesting theme can be found here, especially as of late. Three of the last four top college position players taken have been catchers. Throw in Mike Zunino and Kyle Schwarber and the makes it five of the past 11 drafts. Schwarber obviously moved away from the position but it was what he played in college.

Zunino was pushed far more aggressively than just about anyone on this list, as he and Schwarber the only two to play in Triple-A their first full season with the former spending the entire year there.

So based on recent history, with the FCL basically being the equivalent of rookie level, it would be safe to say that Davis will get a couple of weeks of game action here before moving on to affiliated ball. 

That would mean a move to Bradenton in Low-A, where half of the prospects moved on to when done with rookie level. The odds are even more in that favor after baseball got rid of short season baseball, a league where four made a pit stop.

Only Schwarber and Zunino made it any further than that. Davis did get some Schwarber comps going through the draft process between his power and some questions about him being able to stick behind the plate. You can probably say that Davis' overall approach at the plate is better than the other two right out of college, so he may not be out of place this early.

That doesn't mean he'll actually get moved like that, but it will definitely be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out. If he tears the cover off the ball in the FCL, and then Bradenton, why not give him a shot in Greensboro if there is enough time in the season?

What path do you think Ben Cherington and company will have Davis follow? Is there anyone on the list above that Davis may end up repeating? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the page, and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.

Also, follow me on Twitter @__Murphy88.

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