The Chicago Cubs had another dismal performance this past season where they ended losing more than 90 games with a severe lack of overall talent in the big league roster.
The farm system, however, is a whole different story.
The Cubs are a top-five ranked system by a number of sources, and they have several impact positional players at the middle and lower levels like shortstop Javier Baez, outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora and pitcher Pierce Johnson that can make you think that things could be quite different at Wrigley in a few years from now.
No prospect, however, made a better first impression than third baseman Kris Bryant.
The former San Diego University star was selected with the second pick in this year’s draft after an impressive college campaign that saw him hit 31 HRs with 66 RBIs. Arguably the best pure hitter of the class, Theo Epstein and company took a gamble and selected him despite having very good pitchers available.
After his first year as a pro, it’s fair to say that Bryant has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations so far. All he did was hit .336 with nine HRs and 32 RBIs across three different levels as he started at Rookie Ball and ended up in Class-A Advanced Daytona, where he was a key member of the team that clinched the Florida State League title.
An impressive start to the Arizona Fall League, where he has hit an even .500 with two homers in his first three games, has put him in the conversation as the team’s best prospect next to Baez. His impressive hit tool, advanced approach and off-the-charts makeup could even put him at Double-A Tennessee next year with an outside chance to arrive at Wrigley Field as a September call-up if he continues with his stellar progression.
It’s hard to see him playing at third at the bigs though due to the presence of Mike Olt in the roster. The former Texas Rangers prospect will have every chance to win the job at Spring Training, so a move to the outfield has been discussed for Bryant, where his athleticism and good arm could play solidly in either corner.
If all goes according to the plan, Bryant could be patrolling the outfield as soon as next year for the Cubs. He would be an immediate upgrade over either player on the roster right now and his tremendous upside will give him the chance to be a legit star for the Cubbies in the middle of the lineup.
It’s fair to say that, judging by his start, everybody is allowed to be excited.