When people ask me what prospect they should keep an eye on just in case he becomes a superstar, my answer is Brennen Davis. Experts struggled to define what type of player Davis was going to be after he was drafted in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft, but they had a good feeling about the kid. After getting the call to South Bend a couple months into the season, everyone has become very aware of just how special he could be.
The 19-year-old has already shown an advanced approach at the plate during his short stint in the Midwest League, slashing .317/.438/.533 in his first 73 plate appearances while walking nearly as many times as he has struck out.
I may have been more impressed watching his batting practice in Dayton recently than by what I saw in the games. There are some players who you can tell are special without even having a trained scout’s eye because the ball just sounds different coming off of their bat. There is no way to properly explain it, but when you hear it for yourself…you just know. That’s how it is with Davis.
In addition to the obvious athletic talent, Davis carries himself like a season vet. That showed when he was in the dugout with his teammates and it came through when I was able to sit down with him to discuss his decision to forego college, his advice to the newest members of the organization, and his one-on-one basketball skills.
CI: Do you have any advice for any draft picks who are weighing a choice between college life and a professional baseball career?
BD: A big thing is to make the best decision for you. Don’t let outside influences sway your decision. You have to take into account a lot of things and it’s a huge decision, so you have to take your time with it. It’s not something you can just…I don’t know, it’s kind of tough because that’s the point in your life where you are either going to be a professional or you’re going to go college. Both are great options, it’s just whatever you think is the best fit for you.
CI: Is that how you made your decision on whether to sign with the Cubs or go to college?
BD: Yeah, and a big thing for me was development. I thought I was going to develop better in a pro ball atmosphere with more at-bats, better coaching. That’s just what I thought was going to be the best for my baseball game.
CI: I heard a lot of things about what the Cubs had you working on when they first got you to their facility. Was there one thing that they focused in on or was it all sorts of different things?
BD: (Laughs) There was a lot of stuff to fix. So bit by bit they kind of broke it down and slowly started implementing. They did a great job of not giving me too much at once, just bit by bit working on advancing and making sure I got one drill down before they moved to the next.
Ed. note: This is very similar to the direction the Cubs took with top pick Nico Hoerner, who was not nearly as raw as Davis, but still had some things to work on in order to unearth his latent power.
CI: Was it overwhelming at all?
BD: No, not really because it’s what I expected. I knew I had to revamp some stuff if I was going to play at the next level.
CI: How did you find out you were making the trip up to South Bend from extended spring training?
BD: I was actually out to dinner with some of my buddies in extended and it was Friday night and I got a call from one of our managers in the AZL and he said, “I hope you have some clean clothes because you’re heading to South Bend.”
CI: At least they waited until the weather got nicer up here. You weren’t up here when it was 40 degrees.
BD: I planned it perfect.
CI: If you were pitching to yourself hitting left-handed, what would happen?
BD: Oh, I’m definitely striking myself out. My left-handed swing is awful.
CI: You were a state champion in basketball during your time in high school. Is there anyone on the team here at South Bend who could beat you one-on-one in basketball?
BD: No chance. On this team? Not even close. I might not score right away, but there’s no way anyone scores on me.
Be sure to keep an eye on Davis as the season moves along. While he may be confident in his basketball skills — his father is former Bulls star Reggie Theus, for those of you who are old enough to remember his days in Chicago — it is his talent on the baseball field that should find him sitting atop the Cubs top prospect lists by this time next season.