Some viewed it as a surprise in 2013 when the Houston Astros selected pitcher Mark Appel with the 1st overall pick in the MLB Draft. This left the Chicago Cubs with a golden opportunity.
Despite already being very hitter-heavy in their farm system, the Cubs would not pass up the chance that they were handed with the 2nd overall pick. The chance of a nearly MLB ready, five tool ceiling player that displays the attributes needed to be a true franchise player.
Kris Bryant. Expect that name to be a staple when referring to the game’s best for the next 10-15 years. Expect that name to be the one that carries the futile Chicago Cubs back into contention. Expect that name to be a once in a generation game changer.
High expectations are common with big Cubs prospects, however, and nearly all of them failed to live up to these high expectations. Corey Patterson was ranked the 2nd best prospect in baseball. He ended up being a career fourth outfielder journeyman. Bryant is much different, however.
In his 99 career minor league games, these are the stats that Kris Bryant has managed to put up:
79 R, 125 H, 32 2B, 31 HR, 87 RBI, .349/.436/.709 with a 1.145 OPS.
Want an even more crazy fact?
His numbers this year in AA are even better.
In just 63 games at AA Tennessee, Bryant has mustered 57 Runs, 82 Hits, 18 Doubles, with 22 HR and 55 RBI. Not to mention his insane .357/.460/.722 slash line. The 1.182 OPS is just gravy at that point.
What makes this so strange is the fact that Kris Bryant has not moved up from AA yet. He has perhaps been the most impressive player in all of minor league baseball this year. Yet, Cubs’ General Manager Jed Hoyer has been rather stagnant on keeping the top prospect where he is.
While a move to AAA Iowa is imminent following the Southern League All-Star Game, it almost appears as if Bryant can make the rare jump from AA to the MLB. While that is highly unlikely considering how careful and slow-paced the Cubs front office has proven to be, making that jump is not unheard of and a few who have made the jump have proven to be quite successful. Giancarlo Stanton and Starlin Castro are two prime examples of players who could make the transition.
In Hoyer’s defense, bringing him up to the MLB before September may not make much sense. Considering Bryant is a Scott Boras client, bringing him up before super two eligibility will likely lose a year of team control. Yet it does seem strange that a Cubs team that is 25-37, playing in a very mediocre National League, has the answers to success waiting for them in the minor leagues.
Kris Bryant has been able to prove that he is a special kind of player. The face of AA baseball right now, Bryant exhibits what may be once in a generation skills. It will take time and, of course, it takes more than one player to turn around a futile franchise.
It’s also highly illogical to crown a player of any real accomplishment before he’s even played a game at the Major League level. Yet there’s no denying the impact that Bryant can have on this year’s Cubs, let alone the Cubs teams of the future that are actually expected to be competitive.
What Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein must realize, even if Bryant doesn’t reach Wrigley this season, is that the biggest offensive piece for a competitive team is already in place. What remains is the correct execution of bringing him up to higher levels at the appropriate pace. While it is highly improbable that Bryant will come up anytime soon, his dominance in Tennessee is clear evidence that he is indeed worthy of a shot at playing .on the North Side of Chicago this summer.