Brennen Davis Follows Example Of Veterans
Outfielder Brennen Davis noticed how focused Cubs' hitters were when they stepped into the batting cage and went through their routines.
The 2018 second-rounder from Basha High in Gilbert, Ariz., felt welcomed by the veteran outfielders in big league camp. The hope is that he can finally take these learning experiences into a full season.
“It’s been unbelievable just being around the guys,” Davis said. “And being in a winning atmosphere and around guys who do the work the right way and get the job done. Because that’s ultimately the kind of player you want to be—somebody who can come in and contribute right away.”
It doesn’t matter all that much whether the 21-year-old Davis starts this season at Double-A Tennessee or High-A South Bend. Rather than individual statistics, the numbers that team officials really want to see are games played and plate appearances.
Davis is athletic enough to potentially play center field someday at Wrigley Field. He also has a big, 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and some moving parts to his righthanded swing.
But the 50-game sample in the Low-A Midwest League in 2019 was very promising—he hit .305/.381/.525—and the Cubs tested him last year by sending him to the alternate training site.
“Those were some serious arms he was seeing,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' senior vice president of player personnel. “The repetitive nature of seeing pitches and getting your timing down is something that internally we’re talking a lot about."
As frustrating as it could be, at times, when facing more advanced pitchers in an isolated environment, Davis learned a lot about himself as a hitter and what it will take to succeed at the higher levels.
“It was huge not missing a year,” Davis said. “Everybody was pretty down that they didn’t get to play baseball in 2020. I was blessed to be able to be out there every day for three months. I couldn’t have asked for anything better for my development under the circumstances.”
— The Cubs believe David Ross brings unique insights into the manager’s office, a range of experiences that includes the three seasons he spent as a special assistant after a 15-year career as a big league catcher. Ross was in the draft room when the Cubs selected Davis. Their paths also crossed at the pre-draft Wrigley Field orientation session that the Cubs hold for high school prospects. Davis attended that event in 2018 and returned as a guest speaker in 2019 to give his perspective as a minor league player.
— Catcher P.J. Higgins could make his big league debut this year. As a backup catcher, Higgins would offer defensive versatility and contact skills when the Cubs need a hitter off the bench. Higgins—a 12th-round pick in 2015 out of Old Dominion—has gotten good reviews in spring training for his ability to work with pitchers and process the team’s game-planning system.