Chicago Cubs: Brennen Davis has tools to be the long-term leadoff answer

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Watching Dexter Fowler surprise his Chicago Cubs teammates during spring training back in 2016 after defying media reports and re-signing with the club on a one-year deal was perhaps the first moment that year when you felt like something special could be happening.

That year, Fowler was the spark plug atop the Cubs’ order, getting on base at a .393 clip and earning the first and only All-Star selection of his big league career. He set the table for the heart of the order and was undoubtedly a huge reason Kris Bryant was able to bring home NL MVP honors at year’s end.

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But since then, the leadoff spot for Chicago has been a whole lot of figuring it out as they go. We saw Kyle Schwarber atop the order, along with Ian Happ and even Anthony Rizzo. Now, having your annual 30-homer, 100-RBI first baseman moved to the top of the lineup is far from ideal. This year, it’s been a little bit of everything: Happ, Willson Contreras and Joc Pederson have all set the table at different points this year.

All told, the Cubs have overcome the lack of a traditional leadoff man this season and have a slim lead over the Brewers in the NL Central. But with a trio of key players set to walk at year’s end and another to potentially follow in 2022 in Contreras, change is coming for this team – and it’s time we start looking toward the future.

Chicago has quietly seen its farm system start climbing the ranks again in recent years after a series of trades and promotions to the big league club stripped it down to the studs. One of the top up-and-comers in the organization is outfielder Brennen Davis, who may very well be the long-term solution in the leadoff spot.

Chicago Cubs: Brennen Davis looks like the leadoff man of the future

Davis ranks second in the organization’s prospect ranks, according to MLB Pipeline – behind only left-hander Brailyn Marquez, who got his first taste of big league action last summer.

Gone are the days where your leadoff man just had speed and hit the ball on the ground. More and more teams like leadoff hitters capable of punishing a get-me-over fastball to open a ballgame  With Davis, the Cubs would have both of those attributes – speed and power – in one package.

"Davis has the power to hit in the middle of the order but also possesses the polished bat and plus speed to be a catalyst atop it. Off to a .235/.358/.397 start between High-A and Double-A after missing some time when he got hit in the head by a pitch in Spring Training, he was also a basketball star at his Arizona high school before the Cubs made him a second-round pick in 2018."

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He’s still likely a year or two from hitting the Windy City. Regardless, Davis is an elite talent and, if he can settle in atop the batting order for years to come, he could be a long sought-after answer for the Chicago Cubs and manager David Ross