Over the next couple weeks leading up to the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, Sports Info Solutions will be publishing a series of scouting reports from three of our Video Scouts for the top-10 collegiate draft prospects and five honorable mentions. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
To read all the reports, click here.
Written By Dominick Ricotta
Henry Davis is by far the best bat in the 2021 MLB Draft. That is not a knock on any other player in the draft, as there are some good hitters out there, but Davis is on his own planet when comparing him to the others. He has the ability to barrel up any pitch, has a great approach at the plate, and is incredibly strong.
If you like exit velocity, Henry Davis will be one of your favorite hitters. As a catcher he can struggle to frame and block pitches but his arm is elite and makes up for some of his deficiencies defensively.
Early College Career
Davis had a quiet freshman year at Louisville in 2019, slashing .280/.345/.386 with 3 HR in 132 AB. He struck out 18 times and walked 13 times, which is fantastic as a freshman and shows he has always had an understanding of the strike zone.
In the shortened 2020 season Davis’ numbers jumped dramatically. He finished with a slash of .372/.481/.698 with 3 HR in 43 AB, adding 8 walks and 4 strikeouts. Of course 43 at-bats is too small of a sample size to be sure that Davis could sustain that for an entire season, so 2021 was a big prove it year for him.
Behind the plate Davis successfully caught 12 out of 35 base stealers in 2019 and 2020 combined. He also allowed 13 passed balls, which many scouts thought would be an issue if Davis wanted to stay at catcher.
Davis certainly proved that 2020 was legit. He finished 2021 hitting .370/.482/.663 with 15 HR in 184 AB. The most impressive part of the season might be his 31 walks and 24 strikeouts, not many hitters have more walks than strikeouts throughout a season. It’s a testament to his elite eye and approach at the plate, which is different from most power hitters that we see today.
Defensively he caught 13 of 28 base stealers and had 3 passed balls. He showed great improvement blocking pitches in the dirt in 2021.
In the batter’s box Davis does not try to do too much, he has a simple approach and a great eye. His barrel is flat through the zone which translates to a lot of line drives. He doesn’t try to pull or lift the ball, he sprays hits to every part of the field. He has an unreal amount of raw power that even with this approach he still hits home runs and extra base hits.
Davis has a slightly open stance, with his knees bent similar to how Albert Pujols bends his knees. His leg kick is unusual, he sways his foot towards home plate and then back to where it lines up with his back foot, so when he swings his feet are level. This type of leg kick puts him on his back leg and almost anchors it down, which gives him the ability to generate power from that back leg.
He holds his hands near his right shoulder with the bat resting on his shoulder. When he loads up he gets great extension and really coils his body to get ready to explode to the ball. On the load up he puts the head of the bat behind his head, which can be problematic, but because of Davis’ short swing and quick hands it doesn’t affect him.
Davis uses his quick hands to cover every part of the strike zone. He can turn on an inside pitch and barrel it up, one of the more impressive at-bats from him this season was against Ryan Cusick (No. 9-rated prospect). Davis turned on Cusick’s explosive 95mph fastball inside for a home run. Davis does a great job of pulling his hands into his body and he is so strong he trusts that if he can get the barrel to the ball it will go far.
If a pitcher pitches him on the outside part of the plate Davis is happy to take that pitch up the middle or the other way. If the pitcher tries to pitch high in the zone, Davis has that great level swing path that allows him to reach those pitches. He is an incredibly tough out because of his willingness to keep it simple, taking what the pitcher gives him, focus on hitting line drives, and putting the ball in play.
Davis’ eye at the plate is another reason why he is so difficult to get out. His 31 walks to 24 strikeouts in 2021 shows just how patient he is.. He waits for his pitch that he feels he can drive, he doesn’t beat himself by chasing bad pitches. He seems to like being aggressive in high leverage situations, swinging at the first pitch frequently with runners in scoring position.
If he does happen to get fooled on a pitch Davis does a great job of adjusting mid-swing. His leg kick gives him the ability to stay back as long as possible so he can adjust to the breaking balls. His hands are so quick that if he gets fooled on a fastball he can make up for it and still do damage.
Behind the plate Davis is an intriguing fielder. Because of his 6-1 210 frame he struggles to crouch down low like a traditional catcher would. When there is nobody on base he drops down to one knee.
Every other situation he is on both feet in the crouch. He tries to widen his legs as much as he can to get low, but that leaves a huge gap between his legs and also affects his ability to slide laterally and blocks pitches that aren’t right at him. Davis blocks pitches with his glove instead of dropping to his knees to use his chest protector. He actually did a great job blocking pitches with his glove but it isn’t a sustainable technique, especially when MLB pitchers throw harder and have more spin on their pitches.
Davis needs some work on framing but his big body makes that difficult. He can’t subtly move behind the plate and steal pitches. His defense behind the plate is probably the only thing that will need to improve for Davis to be a star at the next level.
One part of his defense that won’t need to improve is Davis’ arm. He has an elite arm that makes up for his slower pop time. The throws are incredibly strong and accurate, which made it difficult to run on him. Most catchers his size can struggle with catching base stealers but it might be the thing to keep him behind home plate as he progresses through the minors.
Henry Davis will be a successful MLB player if he keeps on the path he is on right now. His raw power at the plate is going to improve and translate to more home runs and extra base hits. He will start to understand the strike zone and situations even better than he already does. His defense will most likely improve but if not he can be a DH or possibly even first base since his hands are so good.
Multiple All-Star appearances, .300 avg potential
Ceiling: Travis d’Arnaud (when healthy)
Floor: Omar Narváez
Draft Prediction: Top-5 pick