Chicago Cubs 2013 first-round pick Kris Bryant continues to mash at all levels of the minor league system. Bryant is beginning his 2014 season with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies and has gotten off to quite a start, homering in his first plate appearance at that level.
Bryant’s debut at the Double-A level calls to mind the exploits of Javier Baez, another top Cubs prospect and beacon of light for the future who also homered in his first plate appearance for the Smokies in 2013. Bryant did not go yard on some random minor league arm either, taking Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mat Latos deep with a two-run shot. The Smokies were facing the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, an affiliate of the Reds, and Latos is currently down there on a rehab assignment. Perhaps the two players will be facing each other in the NL Central very soon.
While it is certainly fun to think about the possibility of Bryant and Baez playing together at Wrigley Field for years to come, there is really no need to rush this process. Cubs fans by necessity have infinite reserves of patience, and the rebuild, while tedious at times, will be bearing fruit soon enough.
Baez should be debuting in Chicago sometime this season, probably no later than August, if not sooner. In regard to Bryant, the Cubs would be better served to resist the temptation of bringing him up during the 2014 season. It would be wise to allow Bryant more time with Tennessee and eventually Triple-A Iowa later on this season. He will likely continue to mash minor league pitching, but the defense could use a bit more polishing. Hopefully Bryant will be able to handle third base in the majors, although he could just as easily land in a corner outfield spot.
With the big club looking at yet another lost season, Cubs fans are left with little recourse but to follow the development of prospects in the pipeline. Bryant will be fun to watch this season in Tennessee and Iowa, and he is right on course for a 2015 debut at Wrigley Field where he will join Baez in a much more potent Cubs lineup.
Ah, good times.