Many expected top Cubs prospect Brennen Davis to make his big-league debut at some point in 2022 before a back injury sidelined him for most of the summer.
Davis returned to the field in early August and finished the season with Triple-A Iowa, which raises the question: How soon will he be able to help the Cubs in 2023?
“When my time is called, I want to be ready to help the team succeed,” Davis said Sunday. “That’s all I can do. When my time comes, I'm gonna be ready to help the team win.”
Ready in spring training to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster?
“I’ll be ready if that’s the vision that the club sees for me,” Davis said.
Davis has embraced the challenges the Cubs have presented him time and time again, from spending 2020 at their alternate site during the canceled minor league season to a late-season Triple-A promotion last year.
Next up could be making his first big-league Opening Day roster. There certainly could be that opportunity for the Cubs’ No. 2 prospect (according to MLB Pipeline), with playing time potentially available in center field at first glance.
Cubs president Jed Hoyer said he expects to be aggressive this winter, but center isn’t an obvious target position. The Cubs are expected to explore the shortstop and starting pitching markets.
And even with Christopher Morel’s solid rookie season, the Cubs value his ability to play multiple positions.
After a strong 2021 season, Davis had a challenging 2022, to say the least. He was limited to 178 at-bats and 53 games.
He dealt with a back issue early this season that required surgery and at one point seemed like it could sideline him the rest of 2022.
“It's been a big challenge and I haven't had to face this kind of adversity,” Davis said of his season. “Like there's the whole performance side of thing and there's just general health.
“It was affecting my day to day at home,” he added of the back issue. “I couldn't sit down straight or watch TV. It sucked. And then trying to compete on the field too, it just wasn't a recipe for success.
“I'm happy to be past that and continuing to build and get back to where I know I can be.”
After missing over three months, Davis returned to the field on a rehab assignment with the Arizona Complex League Cubs and High-A South Bend in August.
He rejoined Iowa later that month and said he's feeling healthy.
“I'm feeling a lot better than I did,” Davis said. “I’m happy to be back and finish the year healthy and excited to get to go continue to play in the Arizona Fall League. It's just really nice to be healthy.”
Davis, who soon will head off to Arizona, was in town this weekend with about a dozen Cubs prospects for an orientation of sorts — meeting with the front office, coaching staff and others.
He does not plan to play winter ball, but rather focus on his training regimen in the weight room to get physically ready for 2023.
Davis' developmental track has been interesting, even before this season. He only played 50 games in 2019, played at the alt site in 2020 and started 2021 in Single-A.
Through it all, he's played alongside some of the top prospects in the Cubs' farm system. During his August rehab assignment, he shared an outfield with Pete Crow-Armstrong and Owen Caissie.
"[The Cubs have] got a great group of guys coming through the system," Davis said. "There's no doubt that there's pieces in there that are definitely going to be a part of the next core of the Chicago Cubs."
Including himself, maybe sooner than later next spring.