With the first overall pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball amateur draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Henry Davis, a catcher from Louisville. Pittsburgh passed over Vanderbilt's Jack Leiter and high school shortstops Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar to take Davis.
Davis entered the week ranked No. 4 on CBS Sports' pre-draft top 50. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Davis made the leap by hitting .370/.482/.663 this season with 15 home runs and seven more walks than strikeouts. The demand for two-way backstops always outpaces the supply, which is why Davis' upside is intriguing. He combines a low whiff rate with a high average exit velocity at the plate, and he's at least an adequate defender (with a strong arm) behind it. Some evaluators are concerned his strength-based swing won't work as well against advanced pitching. Fair enough, but he's the most accomplished collegiate bat in a class that doesn't have many of them, and it's hard to envision him slipping far beyond No. 5.
Davis is the fifth No. 1 pick in Pirates franchise history, joining Gerrit Cole (2011), Bryan Bullington (2002), Kris Benson (1996), and Jeff King (1986). He joins a promising farm system that includes Oneil Cruz, Quinn Priester, Liover Peguero, and Nick Gonzalez, who the Pirates selected seventh overall in last summer's draft.
League sources speculated to CBS Sports that the Pirates would take whichever of the top prospects had the lowest signing bonus demand. That strategy, a defensible one in a class with a handful of evenly graded players, would then allow them to redistribute their savings later in the draft -- likely on players who slipped because of injury or signability concerns. It's the same portfolio approach that has been used well by the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles in recent years. The most famous instance of it working out remains the Astros drafting Carlos Correa -- who signed for $1.2 million less than Byron Buxton -- and repurposing that money to land Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz.
Davis is the eighth Louisville player to be drafted in the first round since 2015, joining a group that includes Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith, Tampa Bay Rays two-way player Brendan McKay, and Chicago White Sox reliever Zack Burdi. Louisville had two players selected in last year's first round: left-hander Reid Detmers (Los Angeles Angels) and right-hander Bobby Miller (Dodgers).