Picture via Chicago Cubs

Brennen Davis has won the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. There’s really not much left for him to accomplish as a prospect. This winter saw him shoot up into the top 20 of most major publications’ top 100 lists. The Cubs haven’t had one of those top 20 guys over five years. The odds are that Davis will debut in Chicago at some point this summer. From there, how he adapts to major league pitching is going to determine everything.

When 2021 spring training began, I was pretty pumped to see Davis make his AA debut at Tennessee. Unfortunately, a pitch to the face pretty much ended that idea until later in the year. He began the season on the IL before doing a rehab stand for about 10 days in South Bend. It was very clear from that experience that he was more than ready for AA. In just 8 games, he hit .321 with two home runs and 5 RBI and a wRC+ of 172.

His first month at Double-A was not kind to Davis as he struggled a little bit of the plate (.231/.351) and took him a while to make adjustments. The good sign was that his walk rate started to pick up as the June went on and his strikeout rate began to drop. Towards the end of June, things started to click for him, the power came back, and he looked like a number one prospect.

In July, he got off to a hot start and then went to the Futures Game and hit two home runs and won the most valuable player award and all of a sudden he became Mr. Top 20 Prospect.

Davis’ short stroke makes it possible for him to hit well with two strikes. He started to realize that pitchers were getting him out up in the zone while he was looking for a curve away in that count. Once he began to hit the high fastball, his time in AA was going to be very short. He wound up hitting .301 in July with a .414 OBP and he cranked out 9 dingers including the Futures Game.

In August, Davis got pitched around a little bit and did not get many good pitches to hit. Instead, those went to his teammate Nelson Velazquez. Still, I thought Davis would end up 2021 with Tennessee and then spend two weeks with Iowa, who did not end their season until October 3. Instead, Davis got the call a week early and showed no ill effects from the move.

In three weeks of play at Triple-A Iowa, Davis was fantastic, hitting .268 with an on base percentage of .397 while while cranking out 4 home runs and a wRC+ of 150.

There is the old expression that says “when one door closes, another one opens.” For Davis, his next door opened after the Cubs traded away most of the core players last summer. He’s not going to be good enough for an opening day shot at the roster this, but at some point this summer, he’s going to be ready for Chicago.

As we saw this weekend in Spring Training, he’s almost ready.

What’s going to determine his readiness for the majors is just time. Currently, Davis only has a career 584 ABs. Of those, only 56 are at Triple-A. It’s still pretty amazing that he’s risen this high in the system with so few ABs. That’s a testament to his talent and skill set.

At the minimum, Davis is going to spend April and May in Des Moines. After that, all bets are pretty much off. Anytime after June 1, he could arrive. His play should determine when he comes up, but there are things happening in Chicago that could cause the Cubs to call him up a little earlier or to hold off on bringing him up until the latter part of summer.

Davis, for lack of a better phrase, is going to be the first “drafted” prospect in the Cubs’ new position core that will arrive over the next 2 summers. 

The final piece of his development is going to take place once he arrives at Wrigley and begins to face major league pitching on a daily basis. Those are pretty much about the only boxes he’s left to check off. It’s going to be exciting watching him make his final adjustments in 2022.