The back injury to Chicago Cubs top prospect Brennen Davis is more serious than initially thought.
Davis had back surgery in Los Angeles Thursday, sources told the Chicago Tribune. The 22-year-old outfielder went on the Triple-A Iowa injured list May 12 after he had been bothered by low back stiffness that traces back to spring training. The surgery revealed a cluster of blood vessels that caused back and leg pain. The vascular malformation pushed against a nerve, not dissimilar to sciatica.
The blood vessels were cauterized during the surgery, and Davis has a follow-up appointment with the surgeon next week. It’s a best-case scenario given the situation for Davis, who does not have any disc or structural issues in his back his.
He is expected to make a full recovery. However, there is no timetable for when Davis will return to baseball activities.
It is too soon to say how much of his season will be impacted. If he is unable to make it back before the season ends, the Arizona Fall League or winter ball could be an option to get at-bats in the offseason.
The ailment initially manifested as a back injury, but the pain migrated to his legs. Davis received an epidural, which was expected to help resolve the issue. The pain, though, continued to worsen through his back and legs his. Going into Thursday’s surgery, the thought was Davis had been dealing with a potential disc issue in his back.
Davis had a .195/.286/.299 slash line with two doubles and two home runs in 22 games at Triple A before landing on the injured list. He last played May 3. Davis is a consensus top-45 prospect in minor-league baseball, rated as highly as No. 16 overall by MLB.com. He starred in the Futures Game last year, hitting two home runs to earn MVP honors.
Davis’ surgery is another reminder of the tricky nature of projecting prospects and how the path to the majors often is not linear. He is the second notable prospect to be sidelined this year after shortstop Ed Howard suffered a significant hip injury last month that is sidelining him indefinitely.
High-A outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong tore the labrum in his right shoulder six games into his professional career with the New York Mets last year before he was traded to the Cubs in July. A healthy Crow-Armstrong, 20, has flourished in the Cubs organization, earning a promotion to High-A South Bend this week after hitting .354/.443/.557 at Low A with great defense.
Heading into the season, Davis was a candidate to join the Cubs at some point this season. That is now on pause as he works back from the surgery.