Davis looks to stand out at Futures Game
CHICAGO -- Sitting inside the Cubs' dugout on Thursday afternoon, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer repeated the refrain that has come out his front office since he assumed the lead role last offseason.
"You have to keep one eye on the future and think about what moves you can potentially make that can help build the next great Cubs team," Hoyer said.
The current core of stars grew together, blossomed into World Series champions and captured multiple National League Central flags. Hoyer's task is now finding a way to build a bridge to the next core group with the same goals in mind.
Outfield prospect Brennen Davis hopes to grow into one of those cornerstone players for the franchise, and he is being recognized nationally for having that potential. Along with reliever Manuel Rodríguez, Davis will represent the North Siders in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Denver.
The showcase is slated for 2 p.m. CT at Coors Field, and will be aired on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com.
"It's a great honor to be selected for the Futures Game," Davis said. "To be able to play alongside those kinds of players and really be able to show what I can do out there, it's going to be awesome.
"But it's just a steppingstone in where I want to go."
There are many different avenues for constructing a core group of prospects, and Davis and Rodríguez provide two examples. The 21-year-old Davis was a second-round pick by the Cubs in the 2018 MLB Draft, while Rodríguez signed out of the Mexican League in 2016.
Rodríguez -- recently promoted to Triple-A Iowa -- has turned in a 1.65 ERA through 16 appearances this season, amassing 22 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. The hard-throwing righty was added to Chicago's 40-man roster ahead of the 2020 season, but a right biceps strain (combined with the pandemic) kept him out of action.
"Manny's been through a lot," Cubs manager David Ross said. "Some ups and down with the injuries and getting back. He's starting to throw the ball well and just got promoted. Really good for him."
Davis is currently ranked as the Cubs' No. 2 overall prospect (behind lefty Brailyn Marquez, who is currently sidelined with a left shoulder issue). The outfielder checks in at No. 45 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list as well.
The outfielder had a chance to be around the Cubs in Major League camp during Spring Training, picking the veterans' brains on routines and approach. Davis was ready to begin taking the things he learned into his season -- before an errant pitch in a Minor League spring game.
"I got smoked," said Davis, who let out a nervous laugh at the memory.
On April 22, a 2-0 fastball got away from a right-handed pitcher, flew up and in and struck Davis on the side of the face. The Cubs' prospect sustained a broken nose and he dealt with concussion symptoms that delayed his season a month.
Davis noted that he saw concussion specialists throughout his comeback process, which included feeling "foggy" for a couple weeks after the incident. The Cubs took a cautious approach and Davis debuted with High-A South Bend once the symptoms subsided and he was cleared to play.
What does Davis remember about that scary moment?
"I was pissed," he said, "because it was three days before the season started."
Both physically and in the batter's box, Davis has more than recovered.
In his eight-game stint with South Bend, Davis posted a 1.013 OPS. Through 30 games with Double-A Tennessee, he had an .853 OPS with four homers, 10 doubles and 12 RBIs. Heading into Friday, Davis had posted a .328/.403/.625 slash line in his last 18 games.
"There's peaks and valleys in a season," Davis said. "It's just being able to acknowledge the valleys and find what gets you out of them quicker than not. Just being able to be consistent on a daily basis is what I'm going for.
"And I feel like as the season progresses, you'll see more consistency out of me and less of the lulls."
And you will see Davis Sunday at the Futures Game, and potentially at Wrigley Field as a part of the next core group in a season not too far down the road.
"It's like your All-Star Game," Ross said of the Futures Game. "The ultimate All-Star Game as a Minor Leaguer to say, 'Wow, you're really on the radar to be a big leaguer and an everyday big leaguer.' That's such a huge accomplishment for those guys."