Written off and forgotten, Cubs prospect Brennen Davis has gotten hot at Iowa

Overshadowed in a deep system, Davis is trying to, once again, get his career back on track.
Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY

Just over two years ago, Brennen Davis was not only one of the most highly-regarded Chicago Cubs prospects out there - he was a consensus top 20 talent in all of Minor League Baseball.

Multiple injuries have derailed his ascent to the big leagues and, prior to the season, MLB Pipeline left him off its Cubs organizational top 30 prospects list - a damning condemnation of Davis' last two seasons, in which he struggled to stay healthy and managed an OPS in just the .600 range.

But a strong showing early in 2024 at Triple-A and the graduation of Ben Brown off the list has Davis back in the top 30 (ranking 23rd) at the same time he's doing big things at the plate out in Iowa.

Here's what Fangraphs had to say about Davis at this point in his career in a recent breakdown of the top 47 prospects in the Chicago Cubs system:

Injuries and a sketchy hit tool are inextricable aspects of Davis’ profile. Now back from the concussion, Davis is using simple in-the-box footwork and has been more on time early in 2024, but he’s still running a contact rate below 65%. He’s a dangerous low-ball hitter, but he’s more of a bottom-of-the-40-man type than a steady role player.

The scouting report goes on to point out that his range and speed isn't what it once was and he's best ticketed for a corner outfield spot moving forward. That all checks out given the checkered injury past, his transition to more of a power approach at the plate and the added muscle he's put on as he's gotten older.

That's not to say he couldn't still make an impact at the big league level. As evidenced by his home run spree this week (four long balls in five days) with the I-Cubs, Davis still has the tools to make an impact at the dish. If you'll recall, he looked quite good this spring in Arizona, posting a 1.583 OPS over five Cactus League games before a concussion ended his run early.

Brennen Davis is doing a lot of good things this year in Triple-A

At Triple-A, Davis has struck out in 24.5 percent of his trips to the plate, but is walking at an elite 18.2 percent clip, as well. That's led to a .394 OBP, which has helped him overcome a .224 average that's suffered from a below-average .226 BABIP. Still, in 66 plate appearances, the former second-rounder boasts a 126 wRC+, which is obviously encouraging.

Pulling back a bit to look big picture, the Cubs' outfield picture is crowded. Top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong is joined by Owen Caissie and Kevin Alcantara in Pipeline's top 10 rankings and both Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ are under team control through 2026. Of course, Cody Bellinger also factors into that picture but, assuming he finishes the year in a strong spot, he can opt out of his three-year deal and, even if he stays through 2026, his ability to also play first could create room in the outfield.

Davis faces a big-time uphill battle if he ever wants to be even a semi-regular presence in the Chicago outfield. The big key for him in 2024 is staying healthy and on the field. If he can do that, the front office could look to sell high to address other needs because, frankly, there's not a clear path to an MLB future on the North Side.