Brennen Davis: Cubs 2021 Minor League Player Of The Year
During an uncertain transition year for the Cubs, outfielder Brennen Davis made the leap from intriguing prospect to a player expected to debut at Wrigley Field next season.
The 21-year-old announced his presence on a national stage this season by hitting two home runs in the Futures Game at Coors Field. The performance earned him MVP honors at the prospect showcase.
Davis spent most of the 2021 season with Double-A Tennessee but spent September with Triple-A Iowa. In 99 games he hit .260/.375/.494 with 19 home runs, 25 doubles and 50 walks.
“I thought it was going to be a slower burn,” said Matt Dorey, the Cubs' vice president of player development who served as scouting director when the Cubs drafted Davis in the second round in 2018.
“It’s pretty unique considering that we thought he was going to be a little bit more raw initially. But he’s got unbelievable aptitude, he’s really humble and he’s freakishly athletic. You line those things up, it becomes a pretty good recipe for success.”
Davis' breakthrough is remarkable considering that he played on the junior varsity team as a sophomore at Basha (Ariz.) High. He had focused on basketball and excelled on the defensive end of the floor, helping his team win an Arizona state championship as a junior.
Eye-opening performances at the Area Code Games and a Perfect Game showcase in Florida convinced Davis to concentrate on baseball during his senior year, when a hamstring injury limited his explosiveness.
The Cubs were already on Davis before those high-profile events, thanks to the work of area scout Steve McFarland and a group of crosscheckers who tracked his progress. Some preferred his feel for hitting, and others his power potential. But the consensus was that Davis' athleticism and ambition would make him a worthwhile pick.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Davis in pro ball. Right finger injuries limited him to 50 games in 2019. The pandemic forced him to make due last year at the Cubs' alternate training site. He got a late start to 2021 after getting hit in the face by a pitch in spring training.
He has the Cubs' full attention now.
— Outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, the 2020 first-round pick the Cubs acquired from the Mets in the Javier Baez deal at the trade deadline, is a regular presence at the Arizona complex as he recovers from surgery on his right shoulder. Crow-Armstrong is tracking pitches and working with the club’s strength and conditioning and high-performance departments. He was expected to begin his hitting progressions at an early stage of the offseason and return to full strength by the start of spring training.
— After a lost developmental season, it’s unclear if catcher Miguel Amaya will be cleared to play winter ball or instead build up for big league camp next year. Discomfort in the right forearm/elbow area limited Amaya to just 23 games at Double-A Tennessee this season. He is in the strengthening phase of his rehab plan, which will evolve into throwing and hitting programs later this offseason.