Davis checks in as top prospect in Cubs' revamped minor-league system

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Cubs added plenty of young talent while trading away proven veterans last season. A homegrown player, outfielder Brennen Davis, is the organization's No. 1 minor-league prospect.

    The Cubs added plenty of young talent while trading away proven veterans last season. A homegrown player, outfielder Brennen Davis, is the organization's No. 1 minor-league prospect. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/5/2022 6:26 PM

It started over a year ago, when the Cubs traded ace starting pitcher Yu Darvish to the Padres for starter Zach Davies and four young prospects.

Since the deal was an obvious salary dump by the Cubs, the return of young players from San Diego didn't do much to boost a subpar minor-league system.

 

As the 2021 season progressed and the Cubs continued shedding veteran stars, the farm system blossomed.

Trading Anthony Rizzo (Yankees), Javier Baez (Mets), Kris Bryant (Giants) and Craig Kimbrel (White Sox) brought back some young talent that can help the Cubs' major-league roster as soon as this season -- assuming owners and players can agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Here are five Cubs prospects to know:

Brennen Davis

A homegrown product, the 22-year-old outfielder was the Cubs' second-round draft pick in 2018 out of Basha High School in Gilbert, Ariz.

Davis got the organization's attention in 2019, hitting .305/.381/.525 with 8 home runs and 30 RBI in 50 games with high Class A South Bend.

The following year, COVID-19 wiped out minor-league baseball, but Davis showed little rust last season while slashing .260/.375/.494 with 19 homers and 53 RBI over 99 games with South Bend, Class AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa.

The son of former NBA guard Reggie Theus, the 6-foot-4 175-pound Davis was a star high school basketball player before focusing solely on baseball as a senior. It's looking like a wise decision, and Davis is on track to join the Cubs at some point during the upcoming season.

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Brailyn Marquez

It's been a trying two seasons for the left-handed flamethrower, but the Cubs are still high on the 22-year-old starter.

Marquez was at the Cubs' alternate training site in 2020, and he made his major-league debut during the final game of the season against the White Sox.

Last year, he was sidelined early with COVID-19 and didn't pitch the rest of the season due to a shoulder issue that did not require surgery.

The Cubs expect Marquez to be 100% for spring training and quickly climb the minor-league ladder.

Cristian Hernandez

Only 17 years old, Hernandez has yet to play professional baseball in the United States.

But the shortstop did show more than enough in the Dominican Summer League last season, batting .285/.398/.424 with 5 home runs and 22 RBI in 47 games.

At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Hernandez projects to be even better with added strength.

Pete Crow-Armstrong

Acquired from the Mets in the Baez trade, Crow-Armstrong is from the same high school (Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles) that produced three all-star starting pitchers -- the White Sox's Lucas Giolito, the Braves' Max Fried and the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Crow-Armstrong is a center fielder with Gold Glove potential. A shoulder injury that required surgery limited the 19-year-old prospect to 6 games with low Class A St. Lucie last season, but the Cubs are thrilled to have New York's 2020 first-round draft pick.

Kevin Alcantara

Acquired from the Yankees in the Rizzo trade, Alcantara is another young prospect with a very high ceiling.

The 19-year-old outfielder signed with New York for $1 million in 2018 and was opening eyes at 16.

Last year, the 6-foot-6, 205-pounder combined to slash .345/.423/.588 with 5 homers and 24 RBI in 34 combined Rookie League games with the Cubs and Yankees.

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