Good stuff to get into today from around the Cubs farm system …
- After a little over two months of rehabbing from a surgical procedure implicating his back (I phrase it that way because it wound up not QUITE being “back surgery”), Cubs outfield prospect Brennen Davis is back in minor league game action. Davis was the DH last night for the Arizona Cubs, walking once and striking out thrice (two swinging, one looking). This is his re-Spring Training, so I wouldn’t get too caught up in the strikeouts until he’s had a few games to get back to game speed. For now, it’s just so good that he’s back in games with a month and a half left in the season. I would tentatively hope to see him back at Iowa by the start of September.
- The Athletic duo of Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney went deep on a load of Cubs prospects right here, and it’s very worth your time. Among the tidbits is some really useful scouting intel on Matt Mervis, who has been raking all year from High-A up to Triple-A, but who may not project as well in the big leagues:
Mervis, 24, is probably viewed more favorably from a data perspective than through a scouting lens. Scouts see a somewhat stiff body with below-average agility, likely meaning that he could be relegated to being a designated hitter. They also question his ability to hit elite velocity or spin, both of which have become plentiful in the big leagues. The data analysts love the batted-ball numbers, and while they see chase concerns and potential struggles against left-handed pitching, there’s the chance for a strong-side platoon bat with plus raw power and potential to impact games with his bat. Scouts project him as more of an up-and-down player with solid pop.
- I am #NotAScout, but you can see when you watch Mervis that there is a little stiffness there, which isn’t just a concern about his ability to stay at first base, but also makes you wonder about his ability to adjust to better stuff and velo in the big leagues. His swing is powerful on a certain plane, but I wonder if he’s got some exploitable zones because it’s a swing that looks designed to maximize power only in particular spots. So far, Mervis has not shown dramatic strikeout tendencies, but when he’s consistently facing elevated four-seamers in the mid-90s? You wonder if that’s where the hole will emerge. That said, it’s not like pitching at Triple-A is completely unable to elevate, and the guy is striking out just 14.3% of the time!
- Among the others who get a deep dive in The Athletic piece, righties Porter Hodge and Luis Devers, each of whom broke out at Low-A Myrtle Beach, and then have been getting even better results at High-A South Bend. Hodge’s stuff has really exploded this year – velo and movement on secondaries – while Devers pitches with a great deal of deception, despite not being a huge stuff guy (but the Cubs think he might have more filling out to do, which could improve the stuff and velo).
- Some love for Double-A Tennessee righty Ryan Jensen:
- Jensen, 24, was drafted in the first round of 2019 as a guy who checked the extreme stuff boxes, and whom the Cubs knew they’d have to work on command and secondaries. It’s still a work in progress, with Jensen among the most hittable pitchers in the system when he can stay around the strike zone, but struggling to stay consistent. There’s still a chance he winds up a fastball-slider reliever (he could be a true impact one), but you really want to give him a chance to stay in the rotation as long as possible because he had mid-rotation upside.
- Some first looks out in Arizona of recent draftees, Rounds 1 through 4, from John Antonoff: