It’s great to get some eyes-on reports and quotes from the prospect scene at the alternate site this year, where a number of the Cubs’ most compelling youngsters were getting in their only action of the year.
Here's @jimcallisMLB's report on the #Cubs' alternate training site, with notes on the club's top two prospects (Brennen Davis and Brailyn Marquez), 2020 2nd-rounder Burl Carraway and some pleasant developments: https://t.co/PP5C0vMzdn pic.twitter.com/rKkkSt2cRv
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 7, 2020
Cubs Farm Director Matt Dorey illuminated the experience for 20-year-old top Cubs positional prospect Brennen Davis, who was effectively playing waaaay over his head as a 20-year-old facing far more experienced pitchers.
“In the middle part of camp, our advanced pitchers knew his weaknesses and had the ability to exploit them,” Dorey told MLB Pipeline of Davis’s experience. “He had a two-week run where he was getting beat up. For the first time in his career, he faced adversity. That’s exactly where growth happens. It was tough for Brennen to process it at first, but he was able to take a step back and make adjustments. We were proud of his ability to reassess where he was and utilize data and video. He got punched in the face and responded very well. He made some mechanical tweaks because he got defensive and was pushing his swing a little bit, starting to chase a little bit. He got back to his swing and approach and was making more contact and better decisions.”
Certainly, when you’re sending a youngster like Davis to face AAA and MLB level pitchers, you pretty much WANT to see him struggle. You want to see his weaknesses exploited so he can learn, especially in a year that otherwise would’ve featured nothing at all like that.
Among the other prospects Dorey talked about, reliever Burl Carraway is still viewed as a fast riser.
“Burl has a special, special arm,” Dorey said. “We brought him in to get him acclimated and to surround him with a professional environment. He has the ability to move relatively quickly through our Minor League system and we wanted him to be around some veteran pitchers. It was an opportunity to learn from them and jump-start his development as a professional. We focused on his delivery, strength and conditioning, pitch design and usage, pitch efficiency and consistent carry on his fastball. His stuff is really nasty. He messed around with a slider, so we took a look at that too. He also likes his changeup but doesn’t use it much.”
I know a lot of folks were disappointed that Carraway didn’t get a shot in the big league bullpen this year, but the odds against a 2020 draftee – who threw almost no innings this year and very few overall innings in college – pitching in the big leagues this year were huge. I really don’t think it says anything about Carraway other than the Cubs wanting to make sure they get the development right with a guy who has a chance to be an elite back-end reliever.
Check out Callis’s piece for more on those guys, plus Brailyn Marquez, Michael Rucker, and Miguel Amaya.