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Henry Davis brings heart and hustle to Pirates lineup

Davis is hitting .303 since being recalled from Triple-A.

San Diego Padres v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

Henry Davis speaks softly but carries a big stick. This ode to presidential history, in a way, defines the Pittsburgh Pirates’ No. 1 overall pick two years ago.

When he first debuted in Pittsburgh on June 19, Davis brought a laid-back demeanor to PNC Park while speaking on his journey to the big leagues. He’s not someone who, at least not yet, will deliver elaborate answers to the media or be the best quote, but Davis has a better way of exemplifying his game. Davis lets his play do the talking… especially with his big stick at the plate.

Davis is slashing .303/.378/.455 with a .833 OPS in 37 plate appearances. The No. 30 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, Davis has not caught a pitch in the majors and has only seen defensive action in right field as the Bucs work on his catching abilities away from game action.

He’s hit two doubles, one home run, drove in four and collected two steals to accumulate a 0.4 WAR in his first week and a half. The first time Davis cracked the starting lineup, he batted seventh. He’s been elevated to the three-hole since.

The Pirates needed a spark after losing six straight to division opponents and collapsing down the NL Central standings. Pittsburgh was swept by the Cubs at home and lost three of four in Miami to fall further below .500, but Davis showed signs of potential.

Against the Marlins in the Pirates’ only win of the series, Davis walked to begin the eighth, stole second but was left stranded at third. In the next inning, Davis singled after the Bucs took a 2-1 lead to keep the 9th inning rally going in time for Tucapita Marcano to deliver an insurance run in the 9-1 victory.

Davis collected his first home run the night before as well. He collected two hits and an RBI in game one of a three-game series hosting San Diego and followed it up with two more knocks and two RBIs to push the Pirates past the Padres. One of the best things to see was his emotion in the first inning when Carlos Santana smashed a no-doubt home run to the left-field bleachers, and the reaction by Davis told everything you need to know about his desire to win.

The Pirates have won two in a row and also promoted infielder Nick Gonzales on Friday, who crushed his first career home run on Tuesday. Depending on young players is not the easiest thing or something the Pirates have done well at times during 2023, but slumps are an apparent and natural part of the game.

Davis has played solid defense in right and showed off his cannon arm that assists in throwing out runners behind the plate. He lets his play do the talking, and it provides a taste of what he could become.

This is what Davis is supposed to be as the top pick in the draft. The expectations are considerably high and he holds himself in a similar regard, wanting to be the best and do everything he possibly can to win. Outside of Andrew McCutchen, Davis has been the Pirates’ best hitter since being promoted.

Davis’ MLB sample size is very small and important to acknowledge… Thursday will be his 10th game in the majors. His power potential and ability to get the bat on the ball quickly was an enticing reason why the Pirates made him the first selection in 2021 and is noticeably on display.

Davis has the potential to be an anchor in the lineup for years to come, backed by his numbers in the minor leagues that included a .404 on-base percentage. As long as he doesn’t get hit by TOO many pitches - 30 in 127 games between the minors and majors - and maintains his health, all signs point up for what the Pirates could have at their disposal as a clubhouse catalyst.