Chicago Cubs’ 2018 second-round draft pick, Brennen Davis, had a breakout year with South Bend last season, and MLB has pegged him as the next under-the-radar prospect in baseball.
As a dual-sport athlete in high school, Brennen Davis was forced to choose between staying on the diamond or focusing on basketball. He chose baseball and entered the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft with a verbal commitment to play collegiate baseball at the University of Miami in the fall. The Chicago Cubs called his name in the second round, and Davis decided to begin his professional baseball career. He finished out the 2018 season with 18 games played in the Cubs’ Arizona Rookie League, slashing .298/.431/.333 with two doubles, three RBI, and six stolen bases.
The team felt it was best for him to start the 2019 season in extended Spring Training and was assigned to Single-A South Bend at the end of May. Davis jumped out to a blistering start with a .989 OPS in the first half of the year while hitting three home runs, knocking in 10 runs, and displaying good patience at the plate. In all, the 20-year-old finished with a .305/.381/.525 slash line with eight home runs and 30 RBI in 50 games. He also saw his name skyrocket up the Cubs’ prospect rankings, ranked number three by MLB Pipeline at the end of the season.
Jim Callis, of MLB.com, published a piece earlier this year answering several questions, including who he felt were some of his favorite under-the-radar prospects for next year. To no surprise, he named Davis as one of his three. “Finger injuries limited him to 50 games in low Class A last year, but he flashed 30-30 potential while batting .305/.381/.525 in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League, and he could stick in center field.”
Baseball America thinks highly of Davis as well and views him as the Cubs’ centerfielder of the future. We had a chance to catch up with him.
DWC: How difficult was it for you to bypass collegiate baseball, especially at a program with such an esteemed track record as Miami? Were you surprised to get selected so high in the 2018 draft?
BD: It was an extremely hard decision to miss college. You only get that opportunity once, and many rave about their college days. But my goal isn’t to be a good college player. My goal was to be a big leaguer, and going to pro ball was where I saw myself developing better as a player. I might have missed the “college experience,” but there’s always give and take, and I had to jump on my opportunity.
DWC: You spent a good part of the beginning of the season in extended spring training. Could you speak a little bit about what changes you were looking to make in your swing?
BD: Extended (spring training) was a huge learning experience for me. It was where I solidified my routine and cleaned up some hitting mechanics; it really was a big reason why I had a good season.
DWC: When you started at South Bend at the end of May, you hit the ground running. What can you attribute to that and your season overall in which you slashed an impressive 0.305/0.381/0.525 with eight bombs and 30 RBI in 50 games?
BD: When I got the call up to South Bend, my mentality never changed. I knew I could hit at any level. It was just believing that I could. I stayed aggressive and stuck to my approach. My approach was another big part of my development this year. Maturing and sticking to it.
DWC: You had a bit of bad luck in the finger injury department with a pitch high-up and inside at the end of July and again on a bunt attempt. Can you speak a little bit about how you’re doing now?
BD: The finger mishap was very painful, but we are all good now. I am healed and 100% ready to go for this year!
DWC: What was it like for you to experience South Bend’s playoff run and to have so much success in the seven games that ultimately led to you guys winning the Midwest League Championship?
BD: Our playoff run was the most fun I’ve had playing baseball in pro-ball thus far. The energy and camaraderie was just so much fun to be around. Everyone was doing their part. I loved being around guys who knew how to win and never gave up.
DWC: Any plans for the offseason? And what goals are you trying to achieve in 2020?
BD: The goals for 2020 are to have a better year than in 2019, always improving.
DWC: I’ve been reading a book called MVP Machine. It discusses several players who utilized modern technology to make some simple changes and became stars: Trevor Bauer, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, etc. Are you using any technology to help improve your swing mechanics?
BD: I’m using a K-Vest this offseason to really see how my body’s moving and how connected it is.
For those of you that are curious about what a K-Vest looks like and how it’s utilized, the video below does an excellent job of explaining this piece of technology.
A special thank you to Brennen (@BrennenDavis_) for taking the time to chat with me. We will see you at Wrigley very soon.