Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant against the West during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
1. Kris Bryant, 3B
With 2014 in the books, Bryant can look back at a year that led to him receiving multiple Player of the Year awards – and with good reason. Fans were clamoring for his promotion to Chicago as rosters expanded in September, but he was nowhere to be seen. Heading into 2015, it’s likely Bryant begins the season with Triple-A Iowa to avoid starting his service time clock early, but Wrigley Field will more likely than not see the slugger fairly early in the campaign.
"Bryant’s four-win projection for 2015 is more than a win greater than the league’s next rookie-eligible player, other very powerful third-base prospect Miguel Sano‘s. His prorated 29 home-run projection (per 600 PAs) is equal to Miguel Cabrera‘s, Nelson Cruz‘s, and teammate Anthony Rizzo‘s — players whom the reader will recognize as accomplished major-league hitters. It’s not fair, of course, to expect a top-level offensive performance from a player who’s recorded zero major-league plate appearances. On the other hand, the cold and unfeeling algorithms inside the Steamer computer are uninfluenced by the enthusiasm concerning Bryant’s future and have produced the projection here by means of the same methodology used to produce all the other, less impressive ones."
The second-overall pick in the June 2013 draft, Bryant has become the most feared hitter in all of Minor League Baseball. In 2014, the 22-year-old appeared in 138 games, hammering an MiLB-leading 43 home runs and driving in 110 runs. He posted a line of .325/.438/.661 to go along with his 34 doubles and 118 runs.
Bryant appears to be the team’s third baseman of the future, but is expected to also see some reps in left field next spring, as there are some questions as to his size playing well as a big league third baseman. Regardless, his bat will prove valuable to the Cubs as he joins Baez, Soler, Castro and Rizzo in the heart of the Chicago lineup in 2015.