Brennen Davis Talks Alternate Site Development, Next Steps Toward Bigs

We’ve heard a lot about how top prospect Brennen Davis developed at the Cubs’ alternate site in South Bend, but most of it has come from third-party assessments. Davis himself got a chance to dish on his growth when he talked with Jordan Bastian, MLB.com’s Cubs beat writer, in an extensive interview published in more standard format on Cubs.com and as a Q&A on Bastian’s blog.

There’s obviously a lot of overlap between the two, with the former serving as more of a finished product of the latter’s more personal rough draft, but both give us terrific insight into who Davis is as a ballplayer and person. He has always come across as someone who is really grounded, who just gets it, and this interview is no exception as his drive and sense of humor are evident.

You should go check out the links above for the full conversation, but here are 10 things Davis said that really caught my attention.

“The Site B thing was kind of like a bummer for a lot of guys. But for me, it was probably the best situation developmentally that I could be in.”

While Davis was slated to be at high-A last year, he was quite aware of his surroundings and he knew from the get-go that being assigned to the alternate site in South Bend could accelerate his path to the majors. Being exposed to and by more talented players showed him he had some things to work on and forced him to address those weaknesses on the fly.

“I learned a lot about approach and routine, and just being able to pick those guys’ brains that were down, some of the position players that we had pulled together — we didn’t have a ton of them, but we had some guys — and to be able to just talk baseball with them.” 

Davis had just turned 21 years old when he got to the alternate site, so he was still relatively young in terms of experience. Some players might be a little more cocky and trying to prove themselves, but you can tell Davis is aware of the bigger picture and how he can get better through more ways than just playing the game.

“But as soon as there’s guys that could beat you, you have to make adjustments.” 

Welcome to baseball, kid.

“You want to make everything count and everything benefit you, because you’re there for a reason — for development.”

It’s not often you see a prospect understand the reasons he is doing something in the moment. Sometimes what a player thinks versus what the team has planned is a totally different thing. Davis, however, is in lockstep with the organization.

“One thing I picked up for sure was that, don’t ever let like the game change your work and your routine.” 

While this is not necessarily “The Cubs Way,” it does speak to his awareness of how much a grind the game is. The 2019 season was Davis’s first full run as a professional and, even though he only played 58 games, he was busy from February through the middle of September. Considering that he played both basketball and baseball growing up, that was the longest he’d ever focused on one sport.

“Because, you’re never too good enough to learn.” 

I dare you to not like this kid. He is a teacher’s dream.

“We have a really good core coming through the system right now. And I know fans aren’t really happy to see their guys that brought them a World Series go, but I think we have the talent and the guys that want it bad enough to bring another championship to Chicago as soon as we bridge that gap.”

This quote reveals to me a quiet confidence. He knows he’s good, but he doesn’t need to shout it from the rooftops. He knows he needs to get better, but he doesn’t lack self-esteem. Rather than being cocky, he’s a little more understated about what’s happening and how he can see the whole process unfolding. To quote Qui-Gon Jin, “He is mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment.”

“But, being at Site B and seeing guys go up and down and being that close to The Show, it just opens your eyes that you’re not that far away.”

Last year’s experience probably motivated Davis to do even more this offseason to be ready for 2021. I don’t think he’s got a non-roster invite to camp, but it would not surprise me to see him show up in a spring training game in the middle of March.

“So, I’m pretty excited. I’m thrilled to be in the position I am and I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m ready when my time is called. I can’t wait. It brings me goosebumps.”

As someone who watched him extensively, both online and in person, I feel confident in saying Davis is the Cubs’ most exciting prospect since Eloy Jimenez. Those two are not alike in any way other than a positive attitude, but the way Davis plays the game on the field and then works hard off it gives me all the same confidence he has than he can having a big impact in Chicago.

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