The Rundown: Brennen Davis Could Be Real Deal, Yankees Great Don Larsen Passes Away
I thought I’d start the new decade off by delivering some exciting news, which means I get to write about my favorite minor league player, outfielder Brennen Davis. The 19-year-old was a second round pick by the Cubs in 2018 and took South Bend by storm after getting a surprise promotion in late May. I’ve been championing Davis for quite some time and I even took him in the minor league portion of my fantasy baseball draft last spring.
A standout high school basketball player, Davis was considered somewhat of a baseball project entering the ’18 draft, but has answered every challenge the organization has thrown at him since. Moving quickly through the system, the young outfielder handled himself well at the plate, compiling a .305/.381/.907 slash line in 177 plate appearances for low-A South Bend. He also swiped 10 bags, getting caught just once, though he is not projected to be a real stolen base threat when he reaches the majors.
He probably won’t make the major league roster in 2020, but he could see some time with the Cubs the year after and could be a regular by 2022.
Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic certainly believes in Davis, predicting in his column the other day that the young man will be a top 20 prospect in all of baseball ($) by this time next year. Praising the outfielder’s “elite talent,” Sharma noted that Davis was 2.2 years younger than the average age of his peers during the 2019 season.
Despite missing a considerable amount of time in the second half due to multiple finger injuries, the Cubs named Davis their minor league player of the year. One of the more memorable moments of South Bend’s 2019 regular season was Davis’ walk-off home run against Quad Cities at Four Winds Field on July 13, a first in his young career.
The athletic outfielder has been able to add strength without losing speed and fluidity, gaining nearly 15 pounds of muscle since being drafted. Scouts have said he looks even more athletic on the field even with the added bulk, which comes as no surprise given his family history. His mother was a track star at the University of Washington and his father is former Bulls guard Reggie Theus.
Cubs fans will have to wait patiently for Davis to arrive and hope he isn’t traded in the meantime, but it’ll be worth the wait. With all due respect to Mr. Sharma, I’ll do him one better. By the time the calendar turns to 2030, I believe Davis will be mentioned with players like Mookie Betts and Mike Trout as one of the best outfielders of the decade. He could very well end up being this regime’s best draft choice ever.
Cubs News & Notes
- We’ve been led to believe that the front office feels it must explore deals involving its best players because Theo Epstein doesn’t have authorization to spend otherwise. However, the possibility exists that the Cubs may not make any significant trades before heading to camp at the end of February.
- Still, a number of teams are interested in Kris Bryant, who still seems the likeliest to be traded if the Cubs do make a move. The Nationals could be one of the more aggressive teams to pursue the third baseman.
- Jim Bowden of The Athletic predicts the Cubs will trade Bryant ($) and extend Javier Báez. He has the Nationals giving up infielder Carter Kieboom and minor league pitchers Jackson Rutledge and Tim Cate for the all-star third baseman. I don’t think Bryant will be playing for the Nationals unless Washington gives up center fielder Victor Robles in the deal.
- Bowden also predicts the Cubs will acquire infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield from the Royals at the July 31 trade deadline, sending Kansas City minor league second baseman Chase Strumpf, outfielder Albert Almora Jr. and a PTBNL in the deal. Mind you, this is just an exercise by the former GM-turned-columnist. It is not based on any inside information.
- Now that the holidays are behind us, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com lists some key dates for the organization, starting with the annual fan convention that kicks off two weeks from tomorrow.
- Shogo Akiyama is a no-go for the Cubs. The outfielder signed with the Reds a couple of days ago for three years and $15 million.
- If you hate that Akiyama signed with a division rival, imagine how you would feel if Nick Castellanos signed with the Cardinals.
- How about Bryant to the Brewers?
- I still believe the Cubs will somehow retain Castellanos, even if they are unable to make a trade to free up the money to sign him.
- The Cubs are allegedly interested in signing free agent infielder Carlos Asuaje. Yikes.
The Twins announced that they’ve reached agreements on one-year deals with free agent pitchers Rich Hill and Homer Bailey.
The next best available free agent starters are now Alex Wood and Taijuan Walker.
Minnesota has reportedly made an offer to free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson. The offer includes the fourth year that Donaldson has been seeking.
The Diamondbacks and Pirates have reportedly discussed a trade involving Pittsburgh center fielder Starling Marte.
Shockingly, Derek Jeter did not make this Yankees all-decade team. Didi Gregorius was chosen instead.
Anthony Rendon would be the hitter most affected by a “de-juiced” baseball.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell still mows his own lawn, and ESPN gave him a Best of Decade award because of that.
Don Larsen passed away yesterday due to esophageal cancer. The Hall of Fame pitcher was 90 years old. Larsen pitched a perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series.
A good night to post this, if you haven’t seen. The only known color images from Don Larsen’s perfect game, which I published in @SInow in 2016 #RIPDonLarsen https://t.co/ymQo827Rj8
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 2, 2020
They Said It
- “I think our thought process on the amateur side was [Davis] is going to be a slower build and his raw athleticism needed to be harnessed on a baseball field. But he made some adjustments with our hitting staff, really dug in, moved him off the plate a little bit, created some space, started to understand his body. It just clicked way quicker than we could have hoped for … and we hope it’s just the tip of the iceberg.” – Bobby Basham, Cubs Director of Player Development
- “I like to think [athleticism] is part of my game. A lot of it is God-given. But continually working in the weight room to improve what I can do to make myself faster and stronger, it’s only going to make me stronger.” – Brennen Davis
- “I like to mow the lawn. It’s relaxing.” – Craig Counsell
Thursday Walk Up Song
Gonna Build a Mountain by Sammy Davis Jr. A shout out to all who subscribe to the new year/new decade/new me resolution. Happy New Year everybody.