Everyone that wanted to see Kris Bryant at Wrigley Field in September better have a ticket to Wednesday’s game with the Reds. Bryant will be at Wrigley to pick up his Cubs Minor League Player of the Year award before the Cubs-Reds matchup.
Already honored as the minor’s MVP by Baseball America, USA Today and Yahoo Sports, the 22-year-old third baseman dominated AA pitching in the Southern League and then battered the Pacific Coast League for AAA Iowa.
The Cubs first-round pick, # 2 overall, in 2013, the San Diego University product made stops in Mesa, Boise and Daytona his first pro season (.336/.390/.688, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 36 games), and capped off that campaign with a MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League.
After hanging out at big league camp during spring training, Bryant began the season at Tennessee and homered off Reds’ pitcher Matt Latos (rehab start) in his first game. The homers didn’t stop flying off his bat as he led the minors with 43 long balls and was tops in extra-base hits (78), total bases (325), slugging (.661) and OPS (.1.098). Throw in the .325 average, the .438 OBP, 110 RBI and 118 runs and its easy to see why he’s the consensus best player in the minors.
In 68 games in AA, Bryant won player of the week honors three times, was named Cubs player of the month twice, and hit .355/.458/.702 with 22 HR, 20 2B, 58 RBI and 61 runs for the Smokies. He was named a Southern League all-star and won the home run contest.
The slugging third baseman was promoted to AAA Iowa on June 18 and homered in his first game. His first five hits in AAA all left the park and he ended his 70-game run in AAA with a slash line of .295/.418/.619 with 21 homers, 52 RBI and 57 runs. He was second in the minors in runs (118), third with 110 RBI, fifth in OBP (.438) and eighth in walks (86). At third, he handled 372 chances with 21 errors, a .944 fielding percentage.
Due to space on the 40-man roster and service time concerns, the Cubs decided not to promote the Las Vegas native to the big league club. Cub fans won’t have to wait long in 2015 for the slugger to arrive and he’s likely to start the year at third but left field may be in his future.