'Take it in': Cubs prospect Davis joins camp

Outfielder afforded valuable MLB experience; trio competing for second base

February 24th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs are currently balancing the best path forward with their current core group, while beginning to build the next cast of impact players. One of the potential pieces to that future core has arrived at camp in Arizona.

On Wednesday, the Cubs announced that highly touted outfield prospect has been added to Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. It will be a chance for Davis to gain some big league experience before embarking on his Minor League season.

"He's here. Take it in. This is a great opportunity," Cubs manager Davis Ross said. "It's nice when you get to come into this type of environment, see MVPs, Gold Glovers, Silver Sluggers, All-Stars all around the field and watch how they work and the routines. You can learn a lot from that."

The 21-year-old Davis is ranked No. 61 in MLB Pipeline's preseason Top 100 Prospects list for 2021, and he was the Cubs' No. 2 prospect in Pipeline's most recent Top 30 team ranking. The center fielder was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

Ross noted that his interactions with Davis date back to a pre-Draft workout at Wrigley Field in 2018, when the manager previously worked as a special assistant for the Cubs. They connected again in '19 and then Davis suited up for Ross during last Spring Training and in Summer Camp.

"Great kid. Willing to work," Ross said. "I just saw him in the hallway. I'm glad he's here, happy he's here. I know he put in a lot of work last year in South Bend and continued to watch his game improve and try to grow. Just excited to watch him continue to develop, to be honest with you."

Last season, Davis was a part of the Cubs' 60-player pool that worked out at the alternate training site in South Bend, Ind. While there, Davis focused on his offensive development under then-Minor League hitting coordinator Chris Valaika, who was promoted to the Cubs' MLB assistant hitting coach job this offseason.

"He has some special, special tools," Valaika said over the winter. "I think his ceiling is really, really high."

In 2019, Davis hit .305 with eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .907 OPS in 50 games with Class A South Bend. At the alternate training site, his focus in the batter's box was on pull-side power, two-strike approach and better overall decision-making. Now, Davis can continue that process in a Major League setting.

"I want to be a big leaguer that's in the league for a lot of years," Davis said earlier this month. "And you've got to do it the right way. So, I try to take as much information in and process it and really evaluate if that's what's best for me."

Worth noting
• As camp opens for the Cubs, David Bote, Nico Hoerner and Ildemaro Vargas are competing at second base. One could emerge as the regular option, or Chicago may consider a combination of players at that spot.

"I don't know how it's going to play out," Ross said. "All three of those guys can really play defense. Vargas is a switch-hitter we've got from both sides of the plate. David's got some years under his belt. Nico's coming. I think we'll see how it plays out here in spring, and we'll see if somebody steps up and kind of wins that job."

• The Cubs announced Wednesday that non-roster invitee D.J. Snelten arrived at camp with a left elbow injury. Snelten was sent home and can resume a strengthening program in roughly six weeks. There is no timetable for return.

• Pitchers who threw live batting practice during Wednesday's workout included Alec Mills, Kohl Stewart, Brandon Workman, Jason Adam, James Norwood and Dillon Maples.

"It's exciting. It was nice, clean, crisp. I'm kind of like a sucker for a good infield at the big league level. These guys, just watching them throw the ball, move around out there, the energy they brought. I don't know. It put me in a really good mood. Found myself clapping a lot. We're here. We're getting going." -- Ross, on watching infield drills during Spring Training