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Pirates' Henry Davis Learns How Pitchers Think

Henry Davis didn’t know Spanish prior to being drafted.

It’s one of the many things the 23-year-old catcher has been learning in his development. After his first full pro season, how is his Spanish?

“Muy bien,” Davis said.

Malcom Nuñez, one of his teammates from Double-A Altoona in 2022, walked by his spring training locker at the end of an early camp day. Davis stopped Nuñez to ask him: "Como es mi Español?"

Nuñez had barely any hesitation before responding with a nod: “Muy bien.”

Davis worked on his Spanish last year, practicing with Nuñez and Endy Rodriguez. Davis and Rodriguez have been working together this spring on defensive work with veteran catcher Austin Hedges, who the Pirates signed this offseason to be their starter.

In working with Hedges and MLB pitchers during camp, Davis said he’s learning all of the nuances of how to quickly get on the same page as his pitchers.

“You have to know the pitcher in and out," Davis said. "You've got to know the situation. You've got to know the hitter. It's a responsibility none of us take lightly.”

The Pirates drafted Davis first overall out of Louisville in 2021, hoping that he could emerge as their future big league catcher. Injuries limited him to 59 games in 2022. He was hit by a pitch 17 times on the year, including one that led to injured list time.

During his downtime in Altoona, Davis spent time tracking pitchers and having conversations about what they were thinking during specific game situations. While he missed playing time, he diverted his energy to learning a key aspect of communication: How pitchers think.

Boasting some of the best raw power in the system—he hit nine homers and 12 doubles in his shortened 2022—Davis could be an exciting catcher if he learns the defensive side of the game.

Davis seems to be a quick learner and will get a chance to show what he’s learned behind the plate in 2023.


— The club's 2022 first-rounder Termarr Johnson had a brief stay in big league camp, which was ended after a minor issue with his right hamstring in the early part of camp. The issue is minor, according to Johnson. The Pirates made the move to allow him to focus on building up for the minor league season.

— The Pirates added several lefthanders in the offseason to compete for their bullpen this year. They signed Jarlin Garcia to an MLB deal and selected Jose Hernandez in the Rule 5 draft. They also signed minor league free agents Angel Perdomo, Daniel Zamora, Rob Zastryzny and their most recent addition Caleb Smith. Garcia is a lock for the bullpen, while the hard-throwing Hernandez seems to have an inside track with his Rule 5 status.

Nick Gonzales Photo By Chris Bernacchi Diamond Images Via Getty Images

2023 Pirates Top 10 Prospects Podcast

Kyle Glaser and Mark Chiarelli break down the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system.

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