Iowa Cubs’ Kris Bryant named USA Today Player of the Year
After compiling one of the most impressive seasons by a Minor League player in recent memory, Iowa Cubs third baseman and Chicago Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant has been named the USA Today Minor League League Player of the Year.
Bryant, 22, in just his first full professional season, had fans in Chicago clamoring for a September call-up, but as they had insisted all season, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer opted to let their young slugger’s season draw to a close.
On Tuesday, Epstein spoke to reporters, including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune about Bryant’s season and what 2015 may hold for the young third baseman.
"“The fact is we’re not in a pennant race, and he’s a first-year professional who didn’t miss any time,” Epstein said. “It’s a long season, a long grind whether he realizes it or not. It’s appropriate to go home and rest and go through some active rest physically and let some things soak in mentally and come back ready to go for what we hope will we’ll be a seventh-month season for him next year."
So although fans won’t be flocking to see Bryant launch home runs onto Waveland Ave. this season, it appears as if that could come as early as 2015 as the team moves even closer to becoming what the front office hopes will be a perennial contender in the National League.
Bryant, who was taken with the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, split the 2014 campaign between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, where he posted a combined .325/.438/.661 batting line in 138 games. That’s not to mention the 110 runs batted in, 34 doubles or his 43 home runs – all of which ranked near the top of Minor League Baseball leaderboards.
USA Today spoke to player-coach Manny Ramirez about Bryant recently and the former World Series MVP had nothing but good things to say about one of the game’s best young prospects.
"“He’s 6-5, bro,” he says. “He stays inside on his swing all the time. He’s so tall that when he misses a ball, he can still hit it out. The thing I like about him, he knows how to turn the page. If he misses an at-bat, he forgets about it and moves on to the next one."
As the team – and Bryant – begin to focus on 2015, a position change remains possible. What it seems to come down to is simple: the Cubs need to find a place for him and his powerful bat as it climbs the ladder in the NL Central.