Louisville University has turned into a strong school for baseball prospects. Catcher Henry Davis looks like he could become the next star prospect from the school’s system. He could join Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith as another potent offensive bat who can help anchor a lineup for years. Davis has some gaps in his game, but there is plenty to love about the 6’1″, 195-pound, right-hitting catcher.
Henry Davis Draft Profile
Davis is a strong-built, bat-first catcher who is fourth on MLB.com’s big board. He entered the year after a strong 2020 season in which he hit .372/481/698 in just 52 plate appearances before the pandemic shut down college baseball. His production has not dropped despite the layoff. The Louisville catcher is still crushing the ball with a .367/484/655 slash line and 14 home runs in 221 plate appearances. Davis’ level of offense is a reason he continues to rocket up draft boards. It might even be enough to make him the first overall pick.
The offensive stats should highlight a player with an advanced hit tool and power. MLB rates both at 55 out of a possible 80. That is easy enough to make him a middle-of-the-order bat for many years. Perhaps the most positive thing to note is that Davis has never struck out over 12 percent of plate appearances in college. An offset by a walk rate that has never been lower than 8.7 percent.
One other strength to note is Davis’ arm, which rates at a 70 out of 80. It is one of the strongest arms in the class and has produced a sizeable caught-stealing percentage. He will probably need to adjust as he faces better professional pitching, but there is a lot to love in the overall profile.
The bad thing is that Davis rates poorly as a defender behind the plate. His arm is fantastic, but his receiving and blocking are not. It could ultimately force Davis to move out to either third base or a corner outfield spot on defense. This is another thing that we need to wait and evaluate for when he catches pitches with higher movement in the professional ranks. Even if he doesn’t stick at catcher, there is no shame in moving to a different position, and it won’t be enough to drop his draft slot.
The list of bat-first catchers is relatively low. Some may point at Will Smith as the most apparent comp, given he is also a Louisville-catching product. However, Kyle Schwarber, who began his career as a catcher at Indiana, might be a better choice. The former fourth overall pick went from catching to the outfield shortly after his major league debut.
With mixed results., many will criticize his overall fielding that features -9 defensive runs saved, but Schwarber also has 32 outfield assists in 3929 innings. That is good for 34th overall among all outfielders with at least 1000 innings since 2015. There are far worse comparisons than a player who has been worth roughly 6.6 WAR in six good seasons. The ceiling is even higher if Davis maintains his plate discipline.
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