The Cubs’ plan for injured outfield prospects Brennen Davis and Pete Crow-Armstrong
As Jed Hoyer’s front office continues to build the next great Cubs team, Brennen Davis and Pete Crow-Armstrong could play major roles at the corner of Clark and Addison.
But right now, the pair of outfield prospects are on the shelf, tending to their respective injuries.
Davis entered the season as the Cubs’ unanimous top prospect and a player the organization — and fans — were hoping to see at Wrigley Field at some point in 2022.
That dream is now out the window as a back injury will keep Davis on the sidelines for much of the season.
He last played with Triple-A Iowa on May 3 and underwent surgery in early June to correct the back issue.
“It’s been frustrating but at the same time, the news on what was ailing him was really positive,” Hoyer said. “So yes, it’s really frustrating that he hasn’t had a chance to be at Iowa playing all year. But there were certainly some moments when we really couldn’t figure out like, why is this 22-year-old having pain in his legs? What’s going on?
“Once they went in and did surgery, the reasoning for that was sort of an absolute best case scenario. So yes, a frustrating year but a positive outcome from an injury standpoint.”
Davis was ranked as the No. 15 prospect in baseball by MLB.com prior to the 2022 campaign.
He hit .260/.375/.494 (.869 OPS) with 19 homers and 53 RBI across 100 games last season. He began the year with Class-A South Bend before moving to Double-A and finishing with 16 games in Iowa.
Davis started 2022 in Triple-A and in 22 games, he was hitting .195 with a .584 OPS before landing on the injured list.
It’s a tough blow that Davis will miss most of a valuable year of development, especially after the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season.
The Cubs are optimistic Davis can find his way back on the diamond at some point late in 2022.
“Hopefully we can get him back and playing at the end of the year, whether it’s getting some at-bats in fall and winter,” Hoyer said. “Certainly we don’t want the 2022 season to go away without him getting the needed at-bats.
“…Brennen does have fewer plate appearances than would be ideal. Making sure he gets those reps before he gets to the big leagues is really important.”
Meanwhile, Crow-Armstrong is dealing with a bruise on the back of his hand that has kept him out of action since June 10. The Cubs planned to give him a couple of weeks off before reevaluating.
“It wasn’t anything terribly structurally damaging but it could certainly get worse,” Hoyer said. “He admitted that it was sort of affecting his swing. He’s having a hell of a year. He’s making adjustments to High-A — he doesn’t need to make that adjustment and play hurt.”
The Cubs acquired Crow-Armstrong in the Javy Báez trade last summer. The 20-year-old centerfielder excelled with Class-A Myrtle Beach to begin the season, hitting .354/.443/.557 (1.000 OPS) with 7 homers and 13 stolen bases in 38 games.
He was promoted to Advanced Class-A South Bend at the beginning of June and while he has hit a couple of homers, he has not had the same level of success in 9 games (.184 average, .632 OPS).
Crow-Armstrong was a highly touted prospect when the Cubs traded for him (he was the 19th overall pick in 2020 by the Mets). His defense in center field has drawn rave reviews but nobody knew quite what type of hitter he would be. A shoulder injury limited him to only 6 games last season, his first year in pro ball.
The Cubs have been ecstatic with what they’ve seen from the young outfielder this season at the plate.
“His exit velocities are up 2-3 mph from last year, which is a really significant jump,” Hoyer said. “And obviously he’s been driving the ball. For a player like him where the defense and the baserunning are exceptional, the contact abilities were good — to add that power, it’s a really, really huge jump for his game.
“I do think it was by a fear if he kind of plays through that [hand injury] that probably is the thing that’s gonna go — the power.”