Brennen Davis

4 Cubs crack MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list

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MiLB

4 Cubs crack MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list

MLB Pipeline unveiled its annual top 100 prospects list on Saturday, and four Cubs minor leaguers made the cut.

Nico Hoerner (SS; No. 51), Brailyn Marquez (LHP; 68), Brennen Davis (OF; 78) and Miguel Amaya (C; 95) cracked the list for the North Siders. It’s the first time the Cubs have had four players on the list since 2016: Ian Happ (No. 21), Eloy Jimenez (23), Albert Almora Jr. (82) and Dylan Cease (98).

So yeah, it’s been a minute.

Cubs fans are most familiar with Hoerner; the 22-year-old made his big-league debut last September in an emergency spot after Javy Báez and Addison Russell got hurt. Hoerner hit .282/.305/.436 in 20 games and held his own defensively.

Hoerner is ranked as the No. 9 overall shortstop prospect, and he’ll get an opportunity to make the 2020 Opening Day roster. With Báez entrenched at shortstop, Hoerner will shift to second base and potentially play some center field, though he's still learning the latter.

Marquez, 20, is Pipeline’s No. 9 left-handed pitching prospect. The Cubs have struggled to develop homegrown starting pitching under Theo Epstein. In fact, Marquez is the first Cubs pitcher (LHP or RHP) to crack MLB Pipeline’s top 10 pitchers list during Epstein’s tenure on the North Side.

Marquez sported a 3.13 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 22 starts between Single-A South Bend and advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2019. The 20-year-old struck out 128 batters in 103 2/3 innings, walking 50.

Cubs senior director of player development Matt Dorey said the club has “really high expectations” for Marquez this season.

“Brailyn, his last half of last year in Myrtle was an epic run, just in terms of the raw stuff, the strikes, the breaking ball development,” Dorey said Sunday at Cubs Convention. “I think it’s a little early to decide where he’s going to start [the season], but I would guess Double-A.

“But I wanna see how he comes into camp — especially with our new pitching infrastructure — that we’re not missing anything with his delivery or anything from a pitch data perspective. We want to make sure that’s really tied before we send him out [for] a long, full season. It’s such a big year for him. But I think it would be foolish to put any cap on what he can do this year.”

Marquez allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his final 10 starts (he allowed three earned runs on Aug. 26 — the lone exception). The Cubs promoted him to Myrtle Beach on Aug. 6, where he posted a 1.71 ERA with 26 strikeouts and seven walks in five starts (26 1/3 innings).

The Cubs drafted Davis out of high school in 2018 (second round, No. 62 overall). The 20-year-old was more of a basketball player and had some Division I offers, but he ultimately signed with the Cubs and received a $1.1 million bonus.

Davis is considered to be a raw, athletic talent. He hit .305/.381/.525 with eight homers and a 160 wRC+ in 50 games with South Bend last season. He missed time after getting hit on the hand on two separate occasions.

Although Davis is listed as a center fielder (199 innings in 2019) he played left almost as frequently (193 2/3) in 2019. Pipeline projects him to make his big-league debut in 2022.

Amaya spent all of 2019 with Myrtle Beach, slashing .235/.351/.402 with a 122 wRC+ in 99 games. His defense has always been ahead of his bat, and he’s known to be an advanced catcher for his age.

The Cubs added Amaya to the 40-man roster in November in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. However, he won’t make his big-league debut until 2021, at the earliest.

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Cubs name Brennen Davis, Cory Abbott minor league player, pitcher of the year

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BASEBALL AMERICA

Cubs name Brennen Davis, Cory Abbott minor league player, pitcher of the year

Monday, the Cubs named outfielder Brennen Davis and pitcher Cory Abbott the franchise's minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively.

Davis, whom the Cubs selected in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft, spent the entire 2019 season with Single-A South Bend. The 19-year-old hit .305/.381/.525 (.907 OPS) with 30 RBIs in 50 games; he missed time due to two stints on the injured list after getting hit on the hand multiple times.

The Cubs drafted Abbott in the second round in 2017. The 23-year-old made 26 starts in 2019 — all with Double-A Tennessee — pitching to a 3.01 ERA across 146 2/3 innings. He struck out 166 batters compared to 52 walks, with opponents hitting just .210 against him.

Davis is the Cubs No. 3 overall prospect, according to MLB.com, while Abbott is No. 16. The pair will be honored before Thursday's Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field, with an on-field ceremony starting at 6:15 p.m.

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Cubs sign second-round pick Brennen Davis

Cubs sign second-round pick Brennen Davis

ST. LOUIS — Brennen Davis is now officially a member of the Cubs organization.

The second-round pick (62nd overall) just finished up high school at Basha in Queen Creek, Ariz., about 10 minutes from the Cubs spring training complex in Mesa.

He Tweeted out photos Saturday night of signing the contract:

The 18-year-old outfielder is listed at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds with blazing speed, some pop and the Cubs hope the high contact skills he flashed in high school will translate to professional ball.

MLB.com's Jim Callis reported earlier this week that Davis signed for $1.1 million, which is slightly over slot:

Davis is an avid animal lover with experience taking care of an exotic range of pets in Arizona. He chatted with NBC Sports Chicago's Kelly Crull recently on the CubsTalk Podcast:

The Cubs are also expected to come to terms with first-round pick Nico Hoerner, who is finishing up finals at Stanford. The deal should be announced within the week.