Thursday, May 19

MLB Draft 2021: Pirates No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis had to keep a pretty massive secret

DENVER – On the biggest day of his baseball career, Henry Davis had to work a little harder before hearing his name in the MLB Draft.

He had to keep a secret.

A couple of minutes after 5 p.m. local time on the Bellco Theater stage, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, after waiting for the boos to subside, announced that the Pirates would take Davis as the first overall draft pick. of the 2021 MLB. The choice was not surprising, but at least it was a little surprising.

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Louisville’s star catcher was known to be in the general conversation at 1-1, but most pre-event draft drills had the Pirates taking on prep shortstop Marcelo Mayer. Davis was most often in the 3-5 range.

However, Davis was not surprised to hear his name.

“I knew about an hour ago,” he admitted, with a big smile, to a handful of reporters backstage.

Keeping a secret like that may not seem like a big question, until you consider how many people Davis interacted with in that hour. The atmosphere near the pre-broadcast stage was, shall we say, jovial. He did an interview on MLB Network. He shook hands and made a little chat at that hour. Everyone chatting, everyone smiling. He was far from being kidnapped.

But Davis kept his secret, that nugget his agent shared with him. He finally told his family, finally.

“When I got double-double, 100 percent (confirmation),” he said. “Just seeing the emotion on his face was super special. I wouldn’t be here without the people in that row.”

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And, yes, when could they share that emotion free from the burden of secrecy? Even better. Actually, all Davis really had to do was avoid offering the information, because the little talk with all those people was just that: little talk.

No one asked him if he knew where they would take him.

“I don’t know if they’re just extremely respectful, knowing there’s a lot going on,” Davis said. “But the people around me are amazing. I can’t reiterate that enough.”

And now, it’s the first overall pick. Pirates general manager Ben Cherington officially welcomed him with a phone call.

“You set goals. You want to be 1-1 as a kid,” Davis said. “You grow up dreaming of moments like this. A lot of work has gone into it. A lot of people have contributed.”

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Davis’ circle of people around him just expanded in Pittsburgh.

“It’s amazing. I just told you, in 2004, I was the 11th overall pick in 2004 as a catcher for the Pirates, so I know some of the emotions he’s going through,” former Pirates star Neil Walker said. who was there as a Pittsburgh player. The team’s draft representative told Sporting News. “But obviously he’s the No. 1 pick, and we didn’t have anything like this.”

Turns out Walker was there playing two roles. He was the manager for the Pirates and Jon Snow from Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t know anything,” he laughed. “I don’t think they trusted me to keep it close to the vest. I knew there were a bunch of guys being considerate, just like everyone else, but I was sitting there with pins and needles waiting. I didn’t know anything!

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“This is exciting. As someone who grew up playing in Pittsburgh and lives in the area, this is the type of person that I think can really be a generational player for us.”

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