Results tagged ‘ Kris Bryant ’
Jorge Soler is one of the many reasons the Cubs have the top farm system in the game, according to ESPN’s Keith Law (Photo by Stephen Green)
ESPN insider Keith Law unveiled his midseason top five farm systems Tuesday, and, based off his prospect rankings from earlier this month, the baseball world shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs at the top of the list. The organization has three prospects in the top eight of Law’s individual rankings in Kris Bryant (No. 1), Addison Russell (No. 4) and Javier Baez (No. 8). And Cuban import Jorge Soler checks in at No. 38.
Along with that quartet, Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson have all generated buzz and graced various prospect lists in the past year. But the farm system goes even deeper than that.
Here’s some of what Law had to say about the Cubs system:
I know Cubs fans have heard this before, but just wait ’til next year, because this club is going to get good in a hurry, at least on the run-scoring side of the ledger. The system already had the minors’ best collection of high-end bats, and it added several more during the past seven weeks, including the fourth-best prospect in the minors in shortstop Addison Russell, who came over with promising left fielder Billy McKinney in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Athletics.
The Cubs also added catcher/left fielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. It’s a pick I think was an overdraft in part due to doubts he will stick at either position, but he has raked so far in limited at-bats, mostly against younger competition. They used the savings on Schwarber’s bonus to grab several high-upside high school arms later in the draft, including right-hander Dylan Cease, whose elbow ligament injury might require Tommy John surgery but who was seen as a top-15 pick talent before his injury. Cease has a fastball that can touch 100 mph and at times a plus breaking ball.
Most of the successful arms in the system this year have been pitchers at low-Class A Kane County, particularly undersized Taiwanese right-hander Tseng Jen-Ho and 2012 draftee Paul Blackburn, which means the Cubs probably won’t get the starting pitching help they need from their system in the next year or two. Fortunately for them and their fans, they have the bats to trade to acquire pitching from outside the organization.
Rounding out Law’s top five were the Twins, Astros, Mets and Pirates.
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
During Sunday’s MLB Futures Game, which pits the top international prospects with the best American talents, Cubs prospect Javier Baez ripped a home run in the sixth inning to put the World Team ahead. As the Puerto Rican-born shortstop rounded rounded third, his Iowa Cubs teammate Kris Bryant (representing the U.S. Team) applauded his efforts. Baez finished 1-for-2 with the homer, while Bryant went 0-for-3 with a walk.
After a slow start to the season, Baez has picked up the pace. He wrapped up the first half hitting .240/.305/.449 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 14 homers at Triple-A Iowa. In 92 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Bryant is hitting .346/.444/.701 with 31 homers and 81 RBI.
Kris Bryant is now seen by many as the top prospect in baseball. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
A year ago, Kris Bryant hadn’t even made his rookie ball debut. Fast forward to now, and the Cubs farmhand is viewed by many as the top prospect in the game. ESPN Insider Keith Law recently unveiled his midseason Top 50 MLB Prospects list, and he put the Triple-A third baseman squarely at the top. Joining Bryant on the list are three other Cubs prospects, including two more in the top eight overall. Below are excerpts from the list on the top Cubs prospects:
1. Kris Bryant, 3B | Chicago Cubs
Age: 22 | Current Level: AAA (Iowa)
Preseason Ranking: 15
While there are players in the minors who offer higher ceilings — notably the next two guys on this list — Bryant is so close to major-league ready that his value at this moment is at least as high as that of Buxton, who’s playing now but has been hurt most of the year, or Correa, who’s out at least until the Fall League. Bryant has power, he’s capable at third base, and his eye and approach continue to improve. Even if he’s just a .260-.270 hitter — probably a pessimistic forecast — he’ll still be a MVP-caliber bat who hits 30-40 homers and gets on base at a solid clip.
4. Addison Russell, SS | Chicago Cubs
Age: 20 | Current Level: AA (Tennessee)
Preseason Ranking: 3
Russell will be the best prospect to change hands this season, going from the Oakland Athletics, who took him with the 11th overall pick in 2012, to the Cubs in the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s. A torn hamstring robbed Russell of most of April and May, but he’s healthy now and hasn’t lost anything at the plate or in the field. He has outstanding hands and plenty of arm for shortstop, which makes up for slightly limited range. His footwork has improved over the last year, so I don’t really doubt that he can stay at the position. Those great hands also serve him well at the plate, helping him to accelerate his bat quickly and get good loft in his finish to create line-drive power. I see a high-average hitter with a strong OBP and 10-15 homers — maybe even a few more — who plays above-average defense at shortstop.
8. Javier Baez, SS | Chicago Cubs
Age: 21 | Current Level: AAA (Iowa)
Preseason Ranking: 7
Baez still has the minors’ best bat speed, with great wrist and forearm strength that translates into huge all-fields power, which you saw in his homer in the Futures Game off a hanging breaking ball. He’s still rough around the edges at short, agile enough to play but lacking the finesse or the focus to do so at a major league level. That same Futures Game performance also saw him lollygagging on a groundball to short and delivering a lazy throw when he needed to fire one over to first base. Makeup may be the biggest concern here. Otherwise, Baez has the raw ability to become a 35-40 homer guy at second or third base.
28. Jorge Soler, RF | Chicago Cubs
Age: 22 | Current Level: AA (Tennessee)
Preseason Ranking: 26
Soler is a monster if he can just stay on the field. He has electric bat speed, plus-plus raw power and the athleticism and arm to play an above-average or better right field. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since signing in 2012, and in the 15 games he’s managed to play in Double-A this year, he’s hit .400/.456/.880 with 14 extra-base hits in 57 at-bats (tiny sample size caveat applies), indicative of his crazy strength. While he’s been injured too often for me to rank him higher, he has the raw offensive ability to be a top 10 prospect if he gets the at-bats to work on his recognition of offspeed stuff.
Triple-A Iowa’s Kris Bryant has become a top-five prospect. (Photo by Stephen Green)
For a while now, the Cubs system has been widely viewed as one of the best in baseball. After the recent Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade with Oakland, it might now be the best.
On Monday, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both published their updated midseason top 50 prospects lists, and Cubs farmhands were scattered throughout each, with a trio of minor leaguers in the top 10. Below is what the publications said about the Cubs’ prospects. And while Baseball Prospectus’ and Baseball America‘s lists do differ, the quantity and location the Cubs farmhands can only be seen as a huge positive for the organization and its fans.
3B Kris Bryant
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 3
Baseball America Rank: 2
Placement on preseason 101: #17
Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa
Developmental Update: Bryant continues to launch home runs, rack up strikeouts, rake at an eye-popping clip, and show a discerning eye at the plate. Through 371 plate appearances between Double A and Triple A, Bryant is slashing .357/.453/.717 and finds himself knocking on Wrigley’s door. He has proven himself without question to be the loudest bat in the minors and a potential impact mainstay in the middle of the Cubs order for the foreseeable future. –Nick Faleris
Power has been just as advertised, while his defense has been better than expected.
SS Javier Baez
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 5
Baseball America Rank: 7
Placement on preseason 101: #4
Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa
Developmental Update: Baez has the best bat speed in the minors, and it’s not even close for me; a lethal weapon that could make him the premium power bat in the game. But his approach is below average, and he routinely puts himself in bad hitter’s counts and conditions. With more refinement, the ceiling is cathedral but the risk is still quite high despite the fact that the 21-year-old is more than holding his own at the Triple-A level. –Jason Parks
Long-term potential is still as an elite regular, but he has to moderate his swing-from-the-heels approach.
SS Addison Russell
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 6
Baseball America Rank: 5
Placement on preseason 101: #7
Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Double-A Tennessee
Developmental Update: From a skill-set perspective, Addison Russell has the most well-rounded profile at the shortstop position in the minors, with above-average chops in the field (including double-plus hands), and impact potential with both the hit and power tools. Russell has lost half a season to injury, but could challenge for the top spot in the minors with a strong second half. The ultimate upside is a perennial all-star at a premium spot, and the future could start as early as 2015. –Jason Parks
Missed half the year with a hamstring problem; remains an elite all-around shortstop prospect with his new team.
2B Arismendy Alcantara
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 18
Baseball America Rank: 33
Placement on preseason 101: #83
Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa
Developmental Update: I’ve always liked Alcantara, but I was too low on him coming into the season, despite a skill set that has three-way impact potential at the highest level (hit/glove/run). Now that the 22-year-old has taken his talents to Triple-A, and exceeded expectations at the plate and on base, the future first-division player has jumped the list and emerged as a top 20 prospect in the game. –Jason Parks
Hard not to like an athletic middle infielder who can play short in a pinch and has power and speed.
OF Albert Almora
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 37
Baseball America Rank: NR
Placement on preseason 101: #25
Current MiLB level/Affiliate: High-A Daytona
Developmental Update: Almora’s had a rough start to his season. His lack of production in half a season at High-A as a 20-year-old shouldn’t obfuscate the tools he still has. Almora makes loud, consistent contact and plays a very good center field due to his ability to make early reads off the bat. The baseball IQ is high and it helps the other tools play up. He’s not the sexy name in the Cubs system, but don’t forget about him. –Mauricio Rubio
The recent 2014 draft class was off-limits for consideration on each list. But Baseball Prospectus noted a few prospects from the class, including the Cubs’ first-round pick in Kyle Schwarber.
C/OF Kyle Schwarber
Where he fits: Somewhere after Hunter Renfroe (44th)
Schwarber was the most advanced collegiate bat in the draft class, with an ability to hit for plus in-game power without sacrificing average. He puts together professional at bats, shows well against top competition, and has a general knack for finding his pitch and driving it. At present he’s being permitted to feast upon heavily overmatched Low-A arms, and likely won’t face his first real professional challenge until Double-A (or perhaps the Arizona Fall League if he finds a spot on the taxi squad). The BP Prospect Team loves catchers, so his ranking on the Top 101 might be largely dictated by the position at which the Cubs elect to stick him. If it looks like he is destined for first base, he won’t debut on the Top 101 as high as organization mate Kris Bryant (17th last winter), but he could fit comfortably in the Top 60 or so with a solid 2014 pro showing.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
There wasn’t much more third baseman Kris Bryant could do to prove he was the king of the Southern League for the first half of the 2014 season. The Cubs honored his efforts with a promotion to Triple-A Iowa Wednesday.
At the halfway point of the Double-A season, Bryant led the league in most offensive categories, including batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.458), slugging percentage (.702), home runs (22), RBI (58), runs (61), hits (88), total bases (174), bases on balls (43) and OPS (1.160). To cap it all off, he won the league’s Home Run Derby on Monday.
At the moment, it’s unclear where the 2013 first-round pick will be playing—at his natural third base or a corner outfield spot, a position many expect him to play at the major league level.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see the power production between him and Cubs top prospect Javier Baez in the middle of the I-Cubs lineup.
Bryant made his pro debut in July 2013. He played a few games in rookie ball before quickly getting bumped up to Short-Season Boise. After 18 games there, he went to High-A Daytona, where he helped the D-Cubs capture the 2013 Florida State League title. The Cubs No. 2-ranked prospect started the offseason in the Arizona Fall League, where he claimed league MVP honors.
The Cubs minor league affiliates went 1-2 Tuesday, with only the Short-Season A Boise Hawks picking up a win, but the real news was two well-deserved call-ups. Last year’s first-round pick Kris Bryant is moving up to Triple-A Iowa after tearing up the Southern League, and 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber is heading to Single-A Kane County after just five games. Here are the highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (34-35)
3rd Place (-5.5)
After jumping ahead 2-0, Iowa surrendered eight runs to lose at home to El Paso, 8-5.
- SS Javier Baez (.219) hit his 11th homer, a three-run shot with two out in the eighth inning.
- 1B Chris Valaika (.294) recorded his third multihit effort in his last four games, going 2-for-4 with a run, a homer and one RBI (33).
- RF Matt Szczur (.243) added two more hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a double (8).
- Jokisch’s 10 strikeouts were his most since he fanned 11 on May 7, 2012, with Daytona.
Tennessee Smokies (33-36)
2nd Place (-12.5)
Recently called up Tennessee Smokies 3B Kris Bryant, LHP Hunter Cervenka, and RHPs P.J. Francescon and Armando Rivero all made appearances for the North squad in the Southern League All-Star Game. Bryant went 1-for-5 at the plate, and the three Smokies pitchers combined to allow one earned run over 2.2 frames. Tennessee OF John Andreoli, 2B Stephen Bruno and RHP Corey Black, as well as Iowa C Rafael Lopez, had been named to the North Division team, but did not compete. Tennessee will resume regular season play tomorrow, hosting Chattanooga.
Daytona Cubs (25-42)
5th Place (-20.5)
Visiting Tampa scored the game’s only run in the top of the first to beat Daytona, 1-0.
- Daytona managed just four hits in the contest and went 0-for-10 with RISP.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.289) was the only Cub to reach base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk. Both times, he was retired on the basepaths, getting picked off at first and then thrown out stealing.
- LHP Rob Zastryzny threw his second quality start of the season. His first came in his last start on June 9 at Clearwater. He has lost both efforts, despite allowing just three earned runs over 13.2 innings.
Kane County Cougars (45-25)
1st Place (+6.5)
In the Midwest League All-Star game, the Western Division routed the Eastern squad, holding them to two hits and winning 7-0. 3B Jordan Hankins and RHP Paul Blackburn represented the Cougars. Hankins went 0-for-2 filling in at third, while Blackburn did not make it into the game. Kane County will return to action on Thursday at home against Cedar Rapids.
Boise Hawks (4-1)
T-1st Place (–)
Boise hit five home runs en route to a 12-3 victory over visiting Tri-City.
- 2014 first-round pick LF Kyle Schwarber (.600) extended his hitting streak to five games with his third three-hit game of the season, including his first double and two home runs (4). He is tied for the league lead with a .600 batting average and 12 hits. He was promoted to Kane County after the game.
- C Justin Marra (.417) went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI (7).
- RF Jeffrey Baez (.300) led off the game with a homer, finishing 2-for-6 with two runs and two RBI (5).
- 1B Daniel Canela (.467) went 2-for-4 with three runs and a sixth-inning, solo home run.
Kris Bryant is ripping the cover off the ball in Double-A. (Photo by Stephen Green)
We’re more than two months into the minor league season, so it seemed like a good time to check in on some of the organization’s top prospects. While a few have struggled this year, others are exceeding expectations and could be in line for a promotion in the near future. Here is an update on how MLB.com’s top 10 Cubs minor leaguers have fared thus far in 2014.
1. Javier Baez, SS
Baez entered 2014 as possibly the most talked about prospect in baseball. And a stellar Spring Training left people wondering when the club’s top prospect would make his way to Wrigley Field. But his free-swinging approach looks to have caught up with the 2011 first-round pick at the moment, as nearly 35 percent of his plate appearances have resulted in strikeouts.
There’s no denying his power though, as he still has nine homers and 10 doubles. His .225/.285/.430 (AVG/OBP/SLG) will need to improve, but as he gets better adjusted to Triple-A pitching—the closest replica to what major league arms have to offer—the closer he gets to being a regular on the North Side. Mind you, Baez started last season slowly too, and he has shown signs of breaking out lately. Plus, he doesn’t even turn 22 years old until the offseason.
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
Frankly, there isn’t a whole lot more Bryant can prove in the Southern League at this point. The 2013 first-round pick has destroyed everything Double-A pitchers have to offer, and the stats show he is the best hitter in the league—and maybe in all the minors. He currently is the SL leader in all three slash line categories (.359/.461/.717), home runs (22), RBI (56), hits (85), total bases (170), walks (40) and OPS (1.178).
It’s unclear what the Cubs have in store for Bryant as we reach the halfway point of the season. He could see a position change to the corner outfield, where many believe he’ll see the most time once he reaches the majors. But a promotion of some kind is likely in the works in the near future.
3. Albert Almora, CF
Almora’s season has been up and down, as he’d surely like to improve his .250/.273/.332 line. The defensive standout has been as advertised this year, committing just one error in 152 chances. Though he doesn’t have the power of the first two guys on the list, the 2012 first-round pick benefits from not striking out nearly as much (12.4 K%).
Almora’s batting average on balls in play is down 85 points from last season, and it’s well below his career average. This suggests he might be having some poor luck as well. He has still managed to drive in 29 runs this year, already more than his injury-plagued 2013, which means that his hits have been somewhat timely.
4. C.J. Edwards, RHP
The mid-June report on Edwards could only be summed up as incomplete, as the thin right-hander hasn’t pitched since April 20, following inflammation in his right shoulder. In four starts and 20.2 innings pitched, Edwards has a 2.61 ERA and an 8.7 K/9 total.
Edwards shot up most prospect charts late last season. He dominated at Daytona after coming over in a trade for Matt Garza from Texas.
5. Jorge Soler, OF
Soler has been unable to remain healthy in 2014. He began the season dealing with a stress fracture in his leg and is currently rehabbing his right hamstring. In seven games this year, the Cuban-born outfielder has hit .333 in 27 plate appearances.
Soler’s got the build of a future middle-of-the-order bat, and the Cubs hope he can get back onto the field quickly and remain there. For Soler, it’s all about reps.
6. Arismendy Alcantara, IF
Alcantara is making a nice case for a call-up to the major league level. The middle infielder recently made his first start in the outfield—a likely destination in the bigs—and is hitting .273/.309/.515 with eight homers, 30 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
His ability to play multiple positions definitely bodes well for the future, but he needs to cut down on his 25 percent strikeout rate. He definitely has top-the-order potential.
7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
The 2012 supplemental first-round draft pick enjoyed a ton of success in 2013 as one of the key members of the High-A Daytona Cubs FSL championship team. The 2014 season has been a bit of a struggle for Johnson, as calf injuries have kept him off the field since mid-May. He currently has a 4.39 ERA and a 1-1 record in six appearances (five starts).
Johnson’s 7.43 K/9 rate is still solid for a starter.
8. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Vizcaino was the prize of the Paul Maholm haul in a 2012 deal with the Braves. When he joined the Cubs, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but he had a setback that caused him to miss all of 2013. The right-hander returned this season and after a solid start in High-A Daytona, was promoted to Tennessee. He’s pitched only 11.2 innings in the Southern League, but has been impressive for his new club, posting a 3.09 ERA and a 10.0 K/9 rate. He’s also cut his walk rate in half from his time in Daytona.
Vizcaino still needs to play more regularly, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him coming out of the Cubs bullpen sometime later this season.
9. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Candelario is still a raw prospect with the Cubs, as his .194 average in High-A indicates. But he’s on the younger end of prospects in the FSL, and his ability to draw walks (9.9 BB/9) is just what the organization is looking for. He’s getting a lot of experience in a league notorious for its pitching, which will be nothing but good for the young Candelario.
10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Vogelbach has had a decent season at Daytona this year, despite a slight drop in his power numbers through the first half. For a middle-order bat, he’s managed to cut down on an already-impressive strikeout rate, while maintaining his walk rate. His five homers are down from last year, but he has 25 RBI and his .267/.352/.406 line is right on par with his career numbers. The 2011 pick managed to drop some weight heading into the season, which will bode well for his long-term prospects.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Cubs prospect Kris Bryant’s offensive production in the last month has caught the eyes of everybody around baseball. Meanwhile right-handed starter Paul Blackburn has been nearly as solid on the mound. For their recent efforts, Bryant and Blackburn have been named the Cubs Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for May.
The 22-year-old Bryant led the Double-A Southern League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging (.407/.492/.806), home runs (12), doubles (7), RBI (34), walks (17) and runs (30) in May. He had multiple hits in 14 of his 29 games, including two four-hit contests and four three-hit contests. He reached safely in 25 games and recorded at least one hit in all but seven games. He was also named the Southern League’s Hitter of the Week twice.
A native of Las Vegas, the 6-foot-5 third baseman leads the league this season with a .353 average, a .460 on-base percentage, a .700 slugging percentage, a 1.160 OPS, 50 runs, 73 hits, 19 home runs, 51 RBI and 145 total bases, while his 36 walks rank second. Yesterday, he was named to the 2014 Southern League All-Star Game.
The 20-year-old Blackburn had a pretty solid May as well. The 2012 compensation pick went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 28.2 innings over five May starts. He fanned 26 batters versus just five walks and held opponents to one or no runs in four of five outings. The righty gave up just one home run and posted a .250 opponents’ batting average for the month.
Blackburn was selected by the Cubs in the sandwich round (56th overall) of the 2012 draft out of Heritage High School in Brentwood, California. The 6-foot-2 right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 10 starts this season. He has held his opponents to a .234 batting average, including a .159 clip with runners in scoring position, while posting a 1.06 WHIP.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
If you polled Southern League pitchers, it’s likely most would agree with Cubs fans that Tennessee Smokies slugger Kris Bryant is due for a call-up to Triple-A. I’m sure they’re looking for any way to get him out of the league.
The 22-year-old Cubs prospect, who continues to put up ridiculous numbers in his first Double-A season, was named Southern League Hitter of the Week for his efforts from May 26 to June 1. It’s the second time the 2013 first-round pick has earned the award this season.
The third baseman recorded a .478/.625/1.217 (AVG/OBP/SLG) slash line over the seven-day span with five homers, two doubles, seven RBI, seven runs scored and nine walks.
Through his first 55 games with the Smokies, Bryant leads the Southern League in nine different offensive categories: batting average (.348), home runs (18), RBI (49), runs scored (48), hits (70), on-base percentage (.452), slugging percentage (.692), total bases (139) and extra-base hits.
Prior to the 2014 season, Bryant, last year’s number two overall pick out of the University of San Diego, was named the eighth-best prospect in the game by Baseball America and the second-best Cubs farmhand behind only Iowa Cubs shortstop Javier Baez.
This is the third award handed out to a member of the Smokies, as Bryant claimed the accolade from May 5-11 and right-hander Corey Black was named Pitcher of the Week for April 21-27.
With the First-Year MLB Player Draft looming next week (June 5-7), ESPN Insider Keith Law updated the Top 25 players from his preseason Top 100 prospect rankings Friday. Despite the fact that three players from the initial group have moved on to the big leagues, there were no huge changes. The Cubs landed two players on the list, with third-baseman Kris Bryant—and his 16 home runs—moving up seven spots since the preseason, and Javier Baez falling two spots after a sluggish start.
Here’s what Law had to say about the Cubs prospects. The whole article is definitely worth a read, but you must have an ESPN Insider account to access it.
8. Kris Bryant | 3B | Chicago Cubs (age 22)
Current level: Double-A (Tennessee)
Preseason ranking: 15
Aside from a high strikeout rate (more than 25 percent of his plate appearances), Bryant’s season so far is unimpeachable, as he’s walking, hitting for average, hitting for huge power and improving the second time around the league. We’ll have to see what happens to that contact rate when he gets to Triple-A, though.
9. Javier Baez | SS | Chicago Cubs (age 21)
Current level: Triple-A (Iowa)
Preseason ranking: 7
Speaking of Cubs who don’t make enough contact in Triple-A, here’s Baez, owner of the fastest bat in the minors, striking out in a third of his plate appearances so far this year for Iowa.
When he does square the ball up, he hits it hard, but he’s got work to do to make more contact, especially cutting down on his aggressiveness with two strikes, before he’s ready to come up and take over any position in Chicago.