Cubs Prospect Notes: Davis's Slide, Brown's Potential, Jensen's Big Change, Pagan's Knee, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Davis’s Slide, Brown’s Potential, Jensen’s Big Change, Pagan’s Knee, More

Chicago Cubs

The transactions ain’t happening right now, but at least there are some interesting Cubs prospect bits to get into …

  • Not all of them positive. For example, FanGraphs massively dropped Brennen Davis in tandem with his addition to the 40-man roster:
  • I hate it. Might even be too aggressive of a drop. But I can’t say it’s entirely unfair, given the missed time and whatever the “setback” was in the Arizona Fall League (there are reports of mere “general soreness,” suggestions that it was the back again but not the same issue the surgery addressed, etc.). I think Davis’s *upside* remains as high as ever – perennial All-Star talent is in there – but he’s gotta be on the field for an extended period of time in 2023 and showing he’s still the guy he was in 2021.
  • That FanGraphs write-up has a new evaluation of Ben Brown, and I do think we’re going to see that additional gear in 2023:

I needed to perform a from-scratch evaluation of Brown, especially as he sustained his 94–96 mph fastball all the way through a season in which he blew past his previous career high for innings pitched. With two plus offerings — the riding fastball that creeps into the upper-90s and a power curveball — that look like they’d play in the back of the bullpen, Brown looks like a setup man from a stuff and command standpoint right now. But he also threw just shy of 30 combined innings from 2019 to ’21 and may not be done developing. It’s possible his arm action will shorten and his fastball locations will grow more consistent as a result (no guarantee, as you’ll read a few lines from now), or that he’ll tighten up feel for his tertiary, upper-80s slider. If either happens, he’ll hit another gear.

  • Brown, 23, might begin the year again in the Double-A Tennessee rotation before a midseason bump to Iowa. But now that he’s on the 40-man roster, it’s always possible a fill-in start opportunity arises, or a transitional period in the big league bullpen. Now we know the Cubs can and will go that route even for guys they see as starting pitchers long-term.
  • Speaking of guys added to the 40-man roster, I just want to reiterate what a dramatic change Ryan Jensen has made to his mechanics (you have to open the tweet to see the three videos to compare):
  • The long arm stroke is now COMPLETELY gone. It would’ve been impossible to eliminate it completely in-season, even with the long development list stint the Cubs did, so it makes sense that there was additional work this offseason to progress the change. I love what I’m seeing.
  • Now the question is whether he can take that new short-arm stroke into game action this year and not lose any of his stuff (which is top-of-the-system level stuff). If so, the command *should* be improved, and you could see a real breakout. Remember: the Cubs knew what Jensen was working on and how he was looking by the end of the fall before putting him on the 40-man roster (over a number of other worthy options). I think there is optimism here that Jensen can remain a starting pitcher.
  • The Cubs’ new hitting coach has a lot of praise for a young man he’ll hopefully get a chance to keep working with in a year or two:
  • Fellow outfield prospect Ezequiel Pagan is coming off a fantastic season at Myrtle Beach (.292/.366/.443/125 wRC+, outstanding peripherals), but we don’t know how serious this is:
  • How many offseason injuries can one organization suffer, man? Pro baseball is a year-round sport, and playing elsewhere is part of the development process, but dang.
  • Cubs Farm Director Jared Banner was on Marquee to talk about player development, and the Cubs’ focus on making sure their work all points toward helping players improve on their various targeted goals. If you are unfamiliar with that job or the way player development works in general, that’ll give you some background.
  • Random, non-specific praise for Kevin Alcántara, which is fine by me:
  • The answer was Luis Verdugo, who was just 21 at High-A and doing this with a plus glove at third base:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.