Henry Davis Talks Going No. 1 Overall

The Louisville catcher became the first Cardinal in program history to be selected with the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft.
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(Photo of Henry Davis via University of Louisville Athletics)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - On Sunday night, catcher Henry Davis made Louisville history. The junior from Bedford, N.Y. was taken at No. 1 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2021 MLB Draft, becoming the first Cardinal in program history to be taken with the top pick in the MLB Draft.

He also became the fourth Louisville athlete to go No. 1 overall regardless of sport, joining Pervis Ellison (NBA, 1989), Angel McCoughtry (WNBA, 2009) and Andrew Farrell (MLS, 2013).

Following his draft selection, he took some time to meet with members of the Pittsburgh and Louisville media. He discussed what going No. 1 overall meant to him, how others impacted his journey, how he as improved as a catcher, and more.

Below is the transcript from the press conference:

(On when it set in that the Pirates were going to take him at No. 1)

I want to say with they called this afternoon. It's such an honor to even be considered in a group like that, so I was very excited. As conversations progressed, I was there guy. I was very excited, I was very happy, I'm ready to go

(On how much catching pitchers like Reid Detmers and Bobby Miller helped him grow as a catcher)

Tremendously. Learning how to handle a staff for three years under Coach (Roger) Williams, under the coaches, and just getting to know different personality types, and how to get the most out of each guy, it's something I take a lot of pride in. I'm really proud of our pitching staff, and the relationships I have with them. They made me better, and I hope I made them better too.

(On what it means to be the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft)

I'm just honored, honestly. Got a lot of amazing people in my life who have helped make this possible, so credit to them. I'm very excited.

(On what the moment with Coach McDonnell was like after getting selected)

It's special. Getting to share it, he's done so much for my career, all the coaches at Louisville have. I owe so much to the program, that just being able to give back that little bit, I hope it a lot to him, because he means a lot to me.

(On what improvements he has made at catcher, and how important it is to stay at that position)

It's very important. I love to catch. I love being able to contribute every pitch. For me, doing everything I can off the field and on the field during practice, what I do every day to be the best baseball player, the best catcher I can be is my goal every day.

(On what he knows about the Pirates, and if he sees himself rising with the organization)

That's the plan. Going there, and meeting with everybody in the organization, it was clear they're all chasing the same thing, and they're chasing greatness for the Pirates. They see the vision where they can be great, they can win World Series. Being able to contribute to a teeny bit going towards that goal, I'm super excited and ready to go.

(On what the key to sticking at catcher will be)

Just working hard every day. Everything in life, you have get better at. I can constantly get better, I'm never really comfortable with any part of my game, let alone just catching. I think the potential for improvements really excites me. The way I'm going to go about it, and work hard every single day in that aspect of my game, is going to pay off, and the results will show. I'm going to be a catcher for a long time.

(On the catchers he grew up idolizing, and who he models his game after)

I grew up watching Yadier Molina and Buster Posey. Those guys, not only how amazing they were on the field, but off the field, you just hear amazing things about them. How much they both won, and lead their teams, that's something you strive to. I think I have the ability to be one of the rare catchers who impacts the ball on both sides. That's what I strive for - a guy like JT Realmuto, a guy like Will Smith. Moving forward, that's the path I see myself going down.

(On if he has talked to Will Smith at all in the draft process)

Nah, I think he's pretty busy.

(On what he learned from practicing with relievers Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes)

It was a weird time where I literally saw a video of Ottavino throwing into a net on his Instagram story, and I'm like, 'There's no way this dude's gonna see this', but I messaged him. I'm just like around the corner, you want to get some work in? Let's go. Whatever you want, I'll help. Then he responded. Then later on, Matt Barnes needed a catcher too, so I started catching them. It was great to get work in. Getting better is always good. But the lessons I learned off the field from them, two guys who've done it at a high level for a long time, that's the stuff I'll never forget.

(On how much of a challenge to tune out the draft noise over the course of his season)

I don't think it was a challenge at all, honestly. Every day when you got to really put your full effort forward to winning, and doing everything you can to help your team, you don't really have time for things like that.

(On if he got much draft interest out of college)

No. I was pretty set on going to college. Actually, the only team that called me the day before was the Pirates.

(On if any of his Louisville teammates have reached out yet)

I think I have like 700 text messages. I haven't got back to anyone yet, I'll do it tomorrow.

(On learning before the draft that he was going to go No 1, but not being able to tell his family yet)

I was kind of just there alone (at the theater), and I just started smiling and pacing around, all nervous and anxious, kind of trying to take it all in and try to process it. When I saw my family, my mom actually picked up right away. When she like hugged me, she was like, 'You know something'. Then later on, I got a double-double confirm. When I got it fully confirmed, I just looked at them and told them it was gonna happen. Being able to share that with them was so, so special, and something I'll remember forever.

(On why he decided to go to the MLB Draft Combine, even though he didn't need to)

I love this game more than anything. You hear a lot about moving forward. We need to market the game better, need to market the players better, and there's always more we can do when an opportunity like that presented itself. Even if maybe I didn't need to go, or it wasn't the most important thing, I felt that if there was going to be that opportunity that we've all been looking forward to market the game, and to do more for the players, I want it to be a part of it. I want to help this game moving forward, and anything I can do to help this generation help the next generation, I want to.

(On how long the call lasted with the Pirates while still in high school)

It's actually pretty funny. They called, they offered a number, and I said I wasn't going to sign for it. They said 'are you sure?', and I said yes, and I can promise you that's a lot less than you'll get me for out of college.

(On needing a 'double-double' confirm)

I didn't doubt it, I don't know if that would be the right word. It felt surreal. I was kind of just walking around the theater, and trying to take it all in. My family was eating, and I'm like, "guys, get in here, get in here". I could, I would have told them before. Then the second they got in there, it was pictures and we're sitting down. The double-double confirm, I was sitting there, and I got a call right after. Ben's gonna call you, and just congratulated me. It was great

(On how much he knows about the Pirates organization, especially their organizational depth at catcher)

I don't know much, honestly. About the Pirates organization, I'm a huge baseball fan, not just a player. So growing up watching, they're good for a very long time. Obviously, capable of great things in the future. I didn't pay attention to organizational depth or things like that just, especially being in season right before. I mean, I had things to worry about. I'm excited to be part of the organization, and ready to go.

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