By: Hubble Smith, Sports Editor
The way Las Vegas product Kris Bryant is tearing up the Double-A Southern League, there’s a good possibility he could make his Major League debut with the parent Chicago Cubs by the end of the season.
Bryant, a 6-5, 215-pound third baseman from Bonanza High School and University of San Diego, was named Southern League Player of the Week on June 2, his second such honor this season. He smashed four home runs during the week and hit over .400 with 12 bombs during the month of May.
So many players are making the jump these days from Double-A to the majors, skipping Triple-A, but the Cubs organization likes to watch its prospects succeed at each level before bringing them up.
Bryant might be the exception. Picked No. 2 overall by the Cubs in the 2103 draft, Bryant leads the Southern League with a .351 batting average, 18 home runs and 49 RBIs. He strikes out a lot (65), but when he connects, it’s with power. He also has 15 doubles.
After signing for $6.7 million, Bryant proved himself immediately at Class-A Boise last year and was named Most Valuable Player in the Arizona Fall League. He hit two home runs in spring training.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are languishing in last place in the National League Central division and rumors are flying about trading their ace pitcher, Jeff Samardzija. The hard-luck righthander was winless in his first 10 starts, despite posting a 1.46 ERA.
Cubs’ management says it’s comfortable with Bryant at Double-A, but most scouts say he’s at least ready for a promotion to Triple-A Iowa, where he would join another top prospect in shortstop Javier Baez.
“With all due respect to everyone who is looking at these young men and their numbers, he’s doing very, very well and we’re happy he’s doing very, very well,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria told MLB.com. “I’ll say this: Even when you get to the big leagues, you always have some room to learn. (To say) that he wouldn’t have anything else to learn in Double-A, I guess that can be debated.”
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