Lost in the shuffle of 2020 was a minor league season that never came to be. Most were focused on a shortened 60-game slate at the big league level. But hundreds of prospects across the league lost a year of development.
Faced with such a possibility, Cubs prospect Brennen Davis instead took the year to consume as much as he could at the organization’s alternate training site in South Bend, working with seasoned veterans and honing his skills. Now, he hopes all that work can pay dividends this year.
"“One thing I picked up for sure was that, don’t ever let like the game change your work and your routine,” Davis told MLB.com. “Know what works for you and, even if you feel lost, have something to come back to in the cage every day and be able to get up every day, and be the same person. Don’t let it affect how you go about your business.”"
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MLB Pipeline ranked Davis, 21, as the Cubs’ top position player prospect and #2 overall talent behind only left-handed fireballer Brailyn Marquez. While Marquez seems likely to return to Chicago at some point in 2021, we’re likely at least a year from seeing Davis arrive at the Friendly Confines in competition for an outfield spot.
The former second-round pick hit .305 with a .381 OBP in 2019, slugging an impressive .525 with South Bend. Given he’s never seen Double-A or Triple-A competition, besides the work he had last summer against internal competition, it’s fair to say he needs more seasoning. But he’s hoping that the learning curve won’t be quite as steep after last summer.
Cubs hoping Brennen Davis can be a star
Matt Dorey, the Cubs’ VP of Player Development, had this to say about Davis’ year at the alternate site.
"“I think the best way to put it is he was humbly, a ball of clay,” Dorey said. “He didn’t show up with a lot of preconceived bias, personal bias, about what made him good or, ‘This is his swing,’ or, ‘This is how I run the bases. This is how I play center field.’ I think he was just really eager to learn, and learn and grow with us about who he needed to be as a player long-term.”"
See, this assessment really stood out in my mind because of the team’s previous core – one that, while tremendously talented, really struggled to make adjustments or change their approach, especially offensively. Once again in 2020, the Cubs were dominated by a three true outcome offense and it wound up costing them down the stretch.
Having a guy who is flexible and open to feedback and instruction (ideally, having multiple players who fit that description) will help Chicago not only return to contention in the short order, but will help the club get the most out of this next batch of prospects.
With Jason Heyward just three seasons from the end of his eight-year deal, Davis could soon be a key piece to the puzzle. Ideally, he’ll get a year or two to learn from the five-time Gold Glover before that day comes because, let’s be honest, there’s a ton that the veteran can pass on to the next generation, both on and off the diamond.
It’s been awhile since we’ve turned our attention to the prospects in the organization. Why? Because for a decent stretch, those top prospects quickly climbed the ranks and joined the team in Chicago. Now, with the team’s window closing rather rapidly, once again, our hopes are pinned on a group of young ballplayers in the farm system.