Kris Bryant is one of the main pieces of the Chicago Cubs’s future. Last year’s winner of both the Golden Spikes (best college player) and Arizona Fall League MVP awards, Bryant has a lot of hype and hope surrounding his future. This is leaving many Cubs fans impatient, and I have seen many posts and comments on the internet from people who want him on the major league club now.
Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the Cubs fans who feels impatient, frustrated, and all of those other feels about this current team. But we all need to slow down and keep in mind that Bryant doesn’t even have a full year of professional baseball experience yet. Yes, Bryant is tearing up Double-A right now with Tennessee, leading the Southern League in nine offensive categories.
There is an old saying that “history repeats itself.” So, for those of you who want Bryant in Chicago, I offer to you a Cubs history lesson.
Bryant was drafted with the second overall pick last year. The last time the Cubs had the #2 pick was back in 2001, and they used that pick to draft a highly touted starting pitcher named Mark Prior. Position players and pitchers are treated differently, but the similarities between these two are undeniable (aside from both being drafted #2 by the Cubs and both being 6’5″). Prior and Bryant both won the Golden Spikes award the year that the Cubs drafted them. Both of them were originally drafted out of high school, but didn’t sign and were drafted three years later by the Cubs. The two of them also have San Diego connections: Prior was born and raised there, and Bryant went to the University of San Diego.
Most Cubs fans know how Prior’s career turned out. Once he was drafted, Prior was pegged as the future ace of the franchise. He made nine minor league starts between AA and AAA, combining for a 2.29 ERA and a 13.9 K/9 rate. But 51 minor league innings were enough to make then-CEO/president/GM Andy MacPhail proclaim, “…it’s pretty evident that he’s ready.”
After a spectacular 2003 campaign, Prior suffered through many injuries and was never able to regain the dominance that he once had. In other words, he didn’t pan out as the Cubs and their fans had hoped.
Kris Bryant has a very similar hype following him in his first professional season. Again, I understand that pitchers are different from other position players. But this is still enough evidence to convince me to calm down and let Bryant continue to destroy Double-A. We need to be patient and see how he handles the minor leagues (including Triple-A) out before bringing him up. If that means we don’t see him in Wrigley until the 40-man roster expansion in 2015, then so be it.
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