Kris Bryant on the One-Year Anniversary of Pro Debut

The Cubs farm system had a pretty good week. Albert Almora and Mark Zagunis hit for the cycle on the same day, Keith Law ranked four of the Cubs prospects among the best 50 minor league players in the game with Kris Bryant topping his list, Javier Baez made the first starts of his pro career at second base, and the home run party that started on a Thursday night that saw several of the top prospects hitting home runs nearly simultaneously.

The top prospect in the Cubs’ system continues making headlines exactly one calendar year after taking his first swings in professional baseball. And what a year it has been for the number two overall pick in the draft.

Counting the 20 games he played in the AFL and not counting the at bats he received during Daytona’s Championship run, Kris Bryant has played 152 games over the last year. In 132 games in the minors, Bryant went 165-for-481 with 42 doubles, two triples, 42 home runs, 116 RBI, 67 walks, and 148 strikeouts for a .343/.428/.701 line with a 1.128 OPS. In 20 games in the AFL last fall, Bryant was 28-for-77 with eight doubles, a triple, six home runs, 17 RBI, 14 walks, and 23 strikeouts for a .364/.457/.727 line with a 1.184 OPS.

In 10 fewer games than a full Major League season, Kris Bryant was 193-for-558 with 50 doubles, three triples, 48 home runs, 133 RBI, 81 walks, 171 strikeouts, 101 extra basehits and 92 singles for a .346/.430/.704 line with a 1.134 OPS.

Kris Bryant played his first game with the AZL Cubs on July 21, 2013 and he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. After just two games in rookie ball, the front office moved him to Boise where he went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in his first game with the Hawks. Bryant adjusted to the pitching in the Northwest League, skipped Kane County and finished the year in Daytona where the front office thought he would struggle for the first time.

PrintInstead of struggling, Bryant thrived and finished his first 36 games in pro ball with a .336/.390/.688 line with 14 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and a .688 OPS.

The Cubs decided to send him to the Arizona Fall League to make up the at bats he missed between the draft and signing with the team. Instead of struggling, Bryant earned and MVP award and hit .364/.457/.727/1.184 with eight doubles, a triple and six home runs.

After spending the first half of Spring Training with the big league team, Bryant reported to minor league camp and started the season in the Double-A level and earned a promotion to Triple-A Iowa before he was bumped up a level and that much closer to the majors. Bryant has played 28 games for Iowa and still leads the Southern League in home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS a month later.

In 96 games this year (68 for Double-A Tennessee and 28 for Triple-A Iowa), Kris Bryant is batting .346/.441/.705 with 28 doubles, 33 home runs, 84 RBI, 11 stolen bases, 56 walks, 113 strikeouts, 249 total bases and a 1.146 OPS.






Kris Bryant has continued putting up numbers at the plate while working on his defense at third. Bryant leads the minor leagues with 33 home runs, which means the home run leader in the National League and in the minor leagues are both in the Chicago Cubs organization.

Despite what Scott Boras thinks, Kris Bryant knows he has work to do at the plate and in the field before he is ready for the big leagues. Bryant has to work on his approach at the plate, pitch recognition and cutting down on the strikeouts. Bryant hits to all fields and is learning how to hit the advanced pitching at the Triple-A level.

The minor league box scores and highlight videos are fun to watch, as Jed Hoyer said Monday, but the front office knows there is still a lot of hard work to do in the minors before the prospects begin filtering into the majors. Then the really hard work begins … learning how to consistently perform in the big leagues and most importantly, winning ballgames at the highest level.

Kris Bryant will continue to make headlines and be the focus in the minor leagues. And while it’s only been a year, what a year it’s been for the top prospect in the Cubs system.

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  • triple

    Neil, you missed a 1 in Bryant’s strike out totals, you have it listed as 13, instead of 113. I wish that wasn’t a misprint, as I believe he’d be in the majors right now if he K’d that few times in AA and AAA.

    • GaryLeeT

      So what if he strikes out a lot? He has a 1.1+ OPS and has lead every player in that category at every level he’s played in. If he ends up being the next Mike Schmidt or Reggie Jackson, I can live with that.

      • DWalker

        he’s also young and learning to adjust at every level, he’s also not bene seriously challenged in that he knows he can hit the stuff they are throwing so why not swing. He may never be a low strkeout guy, but he seems like the type of payer who could mature into more walks.

      • Theboardrider

        I don’t think Triple meant anything by that other than to point out a correction. With his numbers who really cares if his outs come by K’s? Especially while it’s just his first few years. Don’t know if he’ll quite K like Schmidt or Jackson, but if he does and still produces as he always has we’ll be fine. But I don’t think he’ll K that much.

      • Tony_H

        Because if he put the ball in play an extra 100 times…..can’t even imagine what his video game numbers would be!

      • triple

        Whoa where are you getting this all? Please don’t freak out so much. You are reading way too deeply into my post. Bryant is our best prospect and has so much potential. All I did was point out a mistake, and say how nice it would be if he was in the majors if he was making so much contact. I wasn’t being sarcastic, facetious, baiting, or trolling like you seem to do when responding to my posts.

        If I ever reach out to you, which I rarely do because I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, I present thoughtful responses and questions, yet you always respond with overblown absolutes and twisted facts, not to mention the name calling. Why is it that you always make outlandish responses to my posts, while I try to make productive conversation/debate about our differences in opinion? It’s really sad that you act like this on the webs. Please, if my posts bother you so much, do not read them. Like I’ve asked in the past, if you want to respond to my posts, please do in a respectful manner.

        I could easily tear apart what you said, but it isn’t worth my time as you never seem to understand other’s points of view.

        • BillyFinT

          Read a recent article of Bryant having second worst contact rate in the league, I think his high OPS won’t sustain with the Big boys (and better pitching).

          • triple

            Yes, I read that in fangraphs too… thanks for bringing that up.

        • GaryLeeT

          “.171 BA, .244 OBP, .439 SLG, .683 OPS”

          That stat is supposed to “tear apart” what I asked? How many ABs with RISP has he had in Iowa? 20 or 30? Give me a break.

          OK. Do you know what a rhetorical question is? That’s what I asked to lead into my HOFer Mike Schmidt comaprison. I don’t think the strikeouts should prevent him from being called up, you do. So I named a couple of HOFers to bolster my position. That was the point of the comment.

          “Whoa where are you getting this all? Please don’t freak out so much.”

          Either you are reacting to Boardy’s comment about mine (which was wrong btw) or projecting, because I fail to see any part of my comment that is a “freak out”. All I was saying is that to me, the K’s don’t matter, and I don’t think that should be the reason to not call him up.
          Look, all anybody can provide here in the comment section is conjecture or stats, and the Cub’s front office is NOT deriving their future plans based on comments from the CCO. So, here’s some friendly advice that you are in no way obligated to heed. Don’t take yourself or your comments so seriously. This is, as it should be, is a place for entertainment.

    • Neil

      Thank you for catching, corrected.

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  • No Baseball In Indiana

    Interesting article on minor league K and BB rates, and how they correlate to ML success. If you’re too lazy to read through it, high K rates are associated with both All-Stars and Busts. High BB walk rate is correlated to successful players.

  • JasonPen

    Everything I have read about Bryant says that he will be a .260-.270 hitter in the MLB…
    Am I not seeing something here? How does a guy that puts up Lou Gehrig type numbers at every level, suddenly hit .265?

    I guess Pujols, Trout, Cabrera, Goldschmidt and Cano must have hit .450 in the minors…

    • daverj

      You’re missing Bryant’s current strikeout rate. He’s young enough that it may improve, but his minor league stats right now look more like a .265 hitter than a .300 hitter to me. Goldschmidt had a similar issue in the minors which he overcame. Pujols, Trout and Cano had much lower minor league strikeout rates than Bryant. For example, Pujols’ strikeout rate in the minors was a little below 10% (Cabrera’s and Trout’s were under 20%) while Bryant’s AAA strikeout rate is just below 30% … that projects to a huge batting average difference in the majors. Add in the fact that Pujols, Cabrera and Trout were younger than Bryant at the same minor league levels and the clear difference in skills is even more pronounced.

      Bryant may end up a perennial All-Star like Goldschmidt or better, but he has some work to do to get there. It is extremely unlikely, however, that he will have the level of success of Pujols, Cabrera or Trout … they all far outclassed Bryant in the minors.

      • daverj

        And Cano’s K rate at AAA was around 12% … forget to include him in my prior post.

        Mike Schmidt … a Hall of Famer and career .267 hitter is probably Bryant’s ceiling if all goes perfectly.

        Of course, we would all be thrilled if Bryant had a Schmidt-like career and wouldn’t care that he didn’t put up the batting averages of Pujols, Trout or Cabrera.

      • JasonPen

        I still dont see how you say “outclassed”…
        I only see Trout having better numbers in the minors, and even he didnt have as high of an OPS. Those other guys (random top players that I picked) may have had fewer SO’s, but they didnt have near the OBP or BA or OPS or HRs or basically everything else…

        • daverj

          Moderate power at a younger age with significantly better plate discipline projects much better than the other categories that Bryant leads in.

          Compare Pujols stats and level (majors) at age 22 to Bryant’s at age 22.

          In any event, you asked about why everything you have read projects Bryant as a .260-.270 hitter. I was trying to explain generally why many experts project him that way. That doesn’t mean things won’t turn out much better for Bryant. Perhaps Bryant is a guy like Goldschmidt that continues to develop as he gets older. When Goldschmidt came up, he was projected to be a high power, low-mid batting average guy because of his plate discipline. Things change.

          • JasonPen

            Maybe I’m just a ‘homer’ who is overly excited because of the 11-1200 OPS at every stop in the minors…

            I really searched and I haven’t found any current major leaguer who had those kind of numbers at every level in the minors…

            Time will tell.