The 2021 Pittsburgh Pirates will not go down in the record books as one of the most recognizable and memorable teams in franchise history, more likely the opposite, but still delivered numerous significant moments.
Every season is unique in its own way and shines a few positive lights into even a dark year for players and organizations.
Before the 2022 season begins and a new CBA agreement is reached, Bucs Dugout looks back on the 2021 campaign and the top moments throughout the year.
July 11: Pirates Draft Henry Davis, Follow with Three First-Round Talents
Pittsburgh set itself up for future success by drafting catcher Henry Davis No. 1 overall out of Lousiville to begin the 2021 MLB Draft. The strong-armed catcher delivered three home runs and seven RBI in only eight games played between two levels. Davis hit .308 between rookie league and A+ Greensboro in 26 total at-bats. MLB Pipeline projects the 22-year-old backstop with a 55 hit tool and 60 power rating on a 20-80 scale.
With a projected ETA of 2024, Davis could move his way up the ladder quickly to reach PNC Park and possibly late in the ‘23 season if his health and hitting ability allows. The move to select him over Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter or high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer was initially met with some skepticism due to the lack of a consensus top pick, but general manager Ben Cherington manipulated the Pirates bonus pool to his advantage.
Selecting Davis, a capable starting catcher who still needs improvement behind the plate defensively and framing pitches, opened the door for day two picks of left-hander Anthony Solometo, Lonnie White, and Bubba Chandler, all regarded as first-round talents.
Davis signed for less money ($6.5 million) as a college player and provided the ability to ink one of the richest over-slot contracts ever given to a player (Chandler) at $3 million and two others whose signability became more manageable than previously expected.
July 11 will be looked back on for years to come for Pirates fans and an organization banking on not just these four, but other talented players acquired through the 2021 draft.
The end results will not be known for another 5+ years, but the initial reaction sparks hope for a franchise lacking success through the draft over the last 10 seasons.