The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Henry Davis, the No. 1 pick in Major League Baseball's 2021 amateur draft, the team announced Sunday morning.
"As we started this searching process last summer, it was really important for us to find the best player," GM Ben Cherington said during a press conference Sunday (video link). "We also wanted to find the right person to work together with, to help us building a winning team in Pittsburgh. "We feel very excited and honored and confident that we found that person in Henry Davis."
"Getting signed right away, it's important to me," Davis told reporters, including the Associated Press. "I want to get playing. There's no time to waste really. Making the most of it, getting right to work, I'm pretty happy about how it went."
Davis' agreement will pay him a $6.5 million signing bonus, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. MLB's slot value for the No. 1 pick spot was a little over $8.4 million. For some perspective, here are the signing bonuses for each No. 1 pick since MLB implemented the current slotting system following the 2011 season, per Baseball Reference.
|Year||Player||Position||Signing bonus (in millions)|
Did not sign
Davis, a catcher from Louisville, authored a .370/.482/.663 batting line with 15 home runs and more walks (31) than strikeouts (24) in 50 games this spring. He ranked No. 4 on CBS Sports' pre-draft top-50 list. 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.
"We're interested in challenging players and we want players that can be challenged," Cherington told the Associated Press when asked whether Davis could be pushed to a high minor-league level later this year. "If we feel like there's an opportunity to challenge a player, including Henry and anyone else, we'll look for that opportunity. We want guys to be not overwhelmed but challenged and there's certainly playing time this summer and the rest of the season to see how it goes."
Davis was the fifth No. 1 pick in Pirates franchise history, joining Gerrit Cole (2011), Bryan Bullington (2002), Kris Benson (1996), and Jeff King (1986). He now officially joins a promising farm system that includes Oneil Cruz, Quinn Priester, Liover Peguero, and Nick Gonzalez, whom the Pirates selected seventh overall in last summer's draft.
The Pirates are expected to use the financial savings they reaped by taking Davis instead of Marcelo Mayer, Jack Leiter, and Jordan Lawlar to sign some of their other lofty picks, including lefty Anthony Solometo, outfielder Lonnie White Jr., and righty Bubba Chandler. That haul was enough for CBS Sports to deem the Pirates one of the draft's winners.
The 2021 draft signing deadline in Aug. 1..