Notes: Davis' first blast; Alzolay's innings

May 23rd, 2021

Brennen Davis spent last season surrounded by more seasoned players at the Cubs' alternate training site. The young outfielder soaked up being around veterans as an invitee to Spring Training this year.

Now, Davis is back on the planned Minor League path, which currently has the Cubs' No. 2 prospect (No. 49 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list) with High-A South Bend. On Sunday, Davis launched his first home run of the 2021 campaign.

"His personality's really infectious. His smile, his energy," said Cubs manager David Ross, whose history with Davis dates back to a pre-Draft showcase at Wrigley Field three years ago. "Just the way he looks in a baseball uniform is pretty encouraging."

Ross said he was impressed this spring by the way Davis glided through the outfield and on the basepaths. The manager also saw the 21-year-old Davis take the time to learn from veterans like Jason Heyward, Ian Happ and others around him.

"He's just an exciting young talent that is a good kid," Ross said. "Look for big things in the future from him."

In South Bend's 5-4 win over Dayton on Sunday, Davis launched a three-run homer off righty Noah Davis (No. 28 on the Reds' Top 30 prospects list) in the third inning. The Cubs prospect also drew three walks in the game.

The homer was Davis' first in an affiliated game since Sept. 2, 2019. That game wrapped up a Low-A campaign (South Bend hosted that level that year) in which Davis hit .305 with eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .907 OPS.

With no Minor League season last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis trained at the alternate site (also in South Bend, Ind.). Ross was pleased with the feedback he received about how Davis handled that challenging experience.

"I heard a lot about him last season," Ross said. "You had a young man that is in South Bend working every day to be better, continuing his development process in an environment that had to be extremely tough. You're around a lot of veteran players and guys that are coming to and from the big leagues.

"I don't know how many guys there his age he had to hang out with or actually interact with. I'm sure that was challenging, but all good reports about him from that."

Watching Alzolay's innings

Given 's lack of Major League innings, and injury history throughout his Minor League career, the Cubs will continue to keep a close eye on his workload as this season progresses.

For now, though, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said the focus is on Alzolay's development. With his seven-inning outing against the Cardinals on Saturday, the 26-year-old starter has reached 44 innings (more than double his MLB total of 21 1/3 innings last year).

"Look, I'm much more concerned with watching him grow," Hottovy said prior to Sunday's game in St. Louis. "The stuff just gets better and better every outing. And his workload gets a little bit higher and a little bit higher.

"And I think we're going to see, there will probably be a point where he hits a wall and we'll be able to make that adjustment, make an assessment [about] what we want to do. But right now, I think the pace he's on and the stuff we're seeing, we want to roll with that as much as we can."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Alec Mills (10-day injured list, lower-back strain) worked 1 2/3 innings and logged 51 pitches in a Minor League rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday. Mills allowed five runs on seven hits (one homer) with one walk and one strikeout.

• Third baseman Matt Duffy exited Saturday's game early due to lower-back tightness, according to Ross. The manager noted that Duffy has been battling the minor issue recently.


"I have other stats that are probably more important to me -- like being in first place might be the one we're shooting for. And being the best possible team we can be." -- Ross