Davis looking to get back on track this spring

February 24th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian’s Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MESA, Ariz. -- Brennen Davis understands that his focus during the season ahead will be centered on staying on the field, developing and proving to the Cubs that he will be ready for the Majors when that call arrives. The outfielder would not mind trying to force the issue this spring.

“I mean, I'm not out here not to make a team,” Davis said. “I'm out here to compete and give them a tough choice to make at the end of spring. That's all I can do. And I know when my time is called, I'm going to be ready -- whether that's now or in a month or two months or whatever. I'm going to do whatever I can to be the best version of myself.”

And what is the best version of Davis?

“It’s pretty good,” he said with a smile.

In reality, it would be a shock if the 23-year-old Davis found himself in the Opening Day plans for the Cubs. Chicago signed veteran Cody Bellinger to handle the bulk of the time in center and has two locked-in players in the corners between Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki. The fourth outfielder will be getting sporadic, matchup-based playing time.

Coming off a season in which he lost significant time due to injury setbacks, Davis is likely ticketed for Triple-A Iowa to continue to get regular playing time. He will spend this spring picking the brains of the veterans around him, continuing to show he is truly back at full strength and then, if a need arises, be on the short list for that phone call.

“He’s just trying to continue to get back to playing every single day,” Cubs manager David Ross said, “and get a full season under his belt. When he's done that, he's been really, really good. … Just let him get the at-bats, continue to get that seasoning, and try to help us in some way this year.”

In the latest Top 100 rankings from MLB Pipeline, Davis checked in at No. 92, trailing fellow Cubs outfield prospects Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 28) and Kevin Alcantara (No. 87) on the list. Davis headed into last season as Chicago’s top prospect, but a mid-season back injury (and surgery) hindered his production and place in the rankings.

After a breakout 2021, in which Davis climbed to Triple-A from High-A and was named the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game MVP, he hit just .180 (.597 OPS) in 53 Minor League games in ’22. Davis did head to the Arizona Fall League, but he had to cut that experience at five games due to a stress reaction.

“It was definitely disappointing, because I wanted to make those at-bats up,” he said. “I wasn't at a point where I was strong enough to really endure that kind of length of a season, and it caught up to me. And I think it was good to take a step back and really not let that hinder my offseason, because the outlook was for 2023.”

This spring, Davis said his weight is up to around 215 pounds -- his heaviest playing weight to date -- but he is still hitting his usual speed numbers. The prospect is unrestricted in his baseball activities, and he hopes that all adds up to a productive Spring Training, a return to form this summer and, perhaps, his big league debut.

“I just want to keep improving,” Davis said. “I know what I can do and I know what I’m capable of doing when I’m healthy. And it feels good to be back to 100 percent and ready to roll.”