The Cubs front office has said time and time again this season that the team did not see a scenario in which Kris Bryant makes his big league debut this year. Bryant is having an excellent season and has put up big time numbers for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Bryant is still four days away from the one-year anniversary of his first professional game.
Kris Bryant is knocking on the door, one which could open mid to late April of 2015 if he continues to check those boxes off his player development plan. But his agent, Scott Boras thinks Kris Bryant should be called up this season.
Scott Boras told the Tribune, “This is a business operation, and I think Kris is aware of hit. In many, many situations, on most clubs, Kris Bryant would be in the big leagues because they’re preparing him to play in the big leagues next year. Why not bring him up in September, let him get his feet wet, get that out of the way, and let him hit. Certainly his talent has put him in a position where a lot of clubs would consider him to be someone they would put on their Opening Day roster.”
Theo Epstein declined to comment on Boras’ statement to the Tribune.
Kris Bryant knows he has work to do in the field and at the plate. Bryant talked about his approach, what he’s been working on offensively and defensively and the possibility of a position change down the line during an interview on MLB Network Radio/XM Radio before the Futures Game.
Bryant is willing to play whatever position is best for the Cubs and helps his team win games. Bryant told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on Inside Pitch, “Whatever helps my team win. Right now I am working as hard as I can to play a good third base. I think this year I’ve taken a huge stride forward with the position and just being more consistent over there. But if they came up to me and wanted me to play right field or left field or wherever they want me to play, just as long as I am in the lineup and helping my team win, I am all for it.”
And despite the big numbers he’s put up in less than a full year in a pro ball, Bryant has to work on refining his approach at the plate. “I think just being more consistent when I get that pitch to hit and hitting it hard,” Bryant said. “I think sometimes this year I’ve fouled some good pitches off that I should have hit. I think it boils down to being more focused at the plate. I also think not chasing pitches, here and there which is natural when you have guys with nasty sliders, but that’s going to kind of refine my approach to not really do it as much.”
“In terms of defense, I’m 6-foot-6, so just working on staying low to the ground and working on my side to side agility I think that would really help me playing third base.”
Jed Hoyer discussed the season Kris Bryant has had and how he has succeeded at every level. Hoyer admitted the front office has pushed him rather hard during an interview on MLB Network Radio with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette (Power Alley) after the trade with Oakland.
“We’ve really pushed him. Last year we skipped him over Low-A ball and put him in High-A for the playoffs in Daytona. We really expected that at the end of a long season he’s going to struggle, and he didn’t struggle,” Hoyer said. “And then we decided to put him in the Fall League and we felt like that was probably going to be a good push for him and probably the first time he’s going to struggle and he ended up winning the MVP. So we’ve been kind of pushing this guy ahead and he’s been answering every challenge.”
During an interview with Matt Spiegel and Peggy Kusinski on 670 The Score after the trade with Oakland, Jed Hoyer discussed Billy McKinney and admitted the Cubs hoped he would slip in the 2013 draft so they could take him in the second round. The Cubs see him as a right fielder for now, especially with Albert Almora in center and the recently promoted Kyle Schwarber in left field.
“Billy McKinney will probably play right field for us. We liked him a lot in the draft,” Hoyer said. “He was a guy we knew we weren’t going to take No. 2 overall and we knew there was no chance he would get back to that next pick and that was something we were really disappointed in because we did like him a lot in the draft. He’s got a really good swing. Oakland pushed him fast. They pushed him to High-A ball when most guys would have started out much lower than that and he’s really held his own. I think it is an impressive year for a 19-year old in High-A ball. He’s competed well. He’s strikeout to walk ratio has been good. He’s shown some power. We’re excited to get him. I think he is underappreciated in this deal because of the focus on Russell, but he’s a guy who was a first rounder 13 months ago.”
Smokies’ play-by-play man Mick Gillispie spoke with the recently acquired Addison Russell. Entering play Thursday, Russell was 6-for-31 since the trade with a double, a walk and eight strikeouts. Russell admitted he was really surprised when he found out he’d been traded.
Addison Russell, like many of the players in the farm system, said he would move positions if the Cubs asked him to and he thinks he would be able to make an adjustment.
Jed Hoyer talked about what the Cubs liked about Addison Russell after the trade on MLB Network Radio.
“It seems like we always ran into him in the fall. After the draft he played in the Instructional League against our team and last year it was really nice, he was on the same Fall League team with Bryant, Soler and Almora and so whenever we were out there we saw him play a lot,” Hoyer told Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette. “I think the biggest thing with us for Russell is that we feel like he is a very balanced player. He controls the strike zone for a young kid. He’s got bat speed. He’s got athleticism and he looks like the game is pretty slow for him and he’s in control of his actions on the field. He’s always engaged with every pitch and the more we scouted him the more we liked him. I think he’s a guy that really grows on you as you watch him play more and more. There is a reason the A’s have been aggressive. They put this guy at 19 years old in High-A and he performed and he’s performing in Double-A at age 20 and when you look around baseball that doesn’t happen all the time. Not a lot of 20-year olds are playing shortstop in Double-A and we do think he has a really good game clock and he sort of precocious that way and we think he’s a guy that can potentially move quickly.”
In 21 games at the Double-A level this season, the 20-year old Russell is hitting .278/.360/.392 with four doubles, a triple, a home run, nine walks and 16 strikeouts for a .752 OPS.
Minor News and Notes
Arodys Vizcaino and Armando Rivero could be game-changers in the Cubs pen according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. The stat line points to Vizcaino struggling at Iowa, but according to Tony Andracki, Vizcaino has been working on “refining his mechanics” since he was promoted to Iowa. Vizcaino is on the 40-man roster and could be called up to the big leagues this season. Rivero was in big league camp in the spring and has had a good season (5-1 in 34 games with a 1.58 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP) with the Smokies and I-Cubs. Rivero is not on the 40-man roster.
ESPN Chicago caught up with Kyle Schwarber just before he found out he was being promoted to High-A Daytona.
Jesse Rogers thinks the ovation for the Cubs farm system should be put on hold.
FanGraphs took a look at a crowd that doesn’t exist for the Cubs.
Even though Albert Almora did not participate in the Futures Game, it did not keep scouts from raving about him according to a report from Jim Bowden. Scouts that Bowden spoke with project Almora as a future All-Star.