Kris Bryant and the Future at Third Base and Other Bullets

kris bryant cubsIf you’re just a morning BN’er, don’t forget to check out last night’s bits on Jeff Samardzija and the Diamondbacks, as well as the qualifying offer round-up. This time of  year, stuff can come down the pipe at any time. (Consume, consume, consume!)

  • In Fall League action yesterday, Kris Bryant went 0-2 with a walk, and Jorge Soler went 1-4 with a double. In some ways, it goes without saying, but, since it was a talking point in the run-up to the AFL, I’ll say: Bryant is exclusively playing third base this Fall, despite earlier talk of him getting looks elsewhere. Thoughts of him moving to the outfield any time soon have clearly been scuttled, and, if his trajectory puts him in the big leagues in the second half of 2014 – still very possible – it makes the Cubs’ approach to third base to start the season pretty interesting. In fact, I’d say it’s an extreme long-shot that the Cubs do anything in the way of a signing or acquisition there this offseason. It’ll likely be some combination of Mike Olt, Luis Valbuena, and Donnie Murphy, if he’s retained. I would imagine the Cubs are hoping Olt wins the job and runs with it, creating one of those “good problems” at midseason.
  • Matt Loosen chipped in an inning yesterday, and it may have been his worst AFL outing – two walks and two hits in just one inning of work. He struck out one.
  • Speaking of the AFL and the Mesa Solar Sox, their game tonight will be on MLBN at 7pm MT. Sweet.
  • Questions and answers from Carrie Muskat and from Mark Gonzalez.
  • The Cubs have the most tortured fans in baseball, according to Will Leitch. Which, like, yeah.
  • I feel like we may have seen this incredible Cubs fan cave before, but, even if we have, it’s worth seeing again. I want to be friends with this guy, and hang at his place all the time. I’ll bring the Chutes and Ladders!
  • You can take in some women’s lacrosse next year at Wrigley when the Northwestern Wildcats play the USC Trojans on April 26 at 7pm CT. I think I’ll be going to that – I’d like to see what the atmosphere is like for an event like that.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

44 responses to “Kris Bryant and the Future at Third Base and Other Bullets”

  1. hansman

    Isn’t it Chutes and Ladders?

    1. Doug Gray

      Well done.

    2. Coach K

      Simple typo. I believe he meant Shots and Lagers.

      1. Funn Dave

        Very nice.

  2. AA Correspondent

    I hope we get more than just a half a season of Kris Bryant in AA. The jump to AA is often a big one….(except for Mr. Baez)……selfishly, I believe a full season in AA would serve him well (as well as the Smokies).

    I like where the Cubs are heading……the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into position……2015 should be a year where these boys all break in as a core and 2016 could be HUGE.

    Oh no…..it’s happening…..I’m turning into a Cubs fan who has to look 2-3 years down the road to get excited. UGGH.

    On reality street, here on Rocky Top……the 2014 Smokies squad should be FANTASTIC!!

    1. hansman

      Has anyone in the Org said where he is starting at?

    2. CubsFaninMS

      I live ten minutes from the Mississippi Braves stadium and the Smokies will be playing two series’ here in 2014. I.will.not.miss.those.

    3. JM

      The truly awesome players force a team to send them to the next level. . So far it looks like B & B may force Theo’s hand.

    4. Cubbie Blues

      I am hoping Bryant at least makes a stop in AAA so I can see him in Nashville.

  3. Mike W

    LAX in Wrigley! Woot Woot. …Too bad its not Mens Lacrosse.

  4. papabear

    I do not see Bryant or Soler in Chicago next year.

    I look for the cubs to sign or trade for starting outfielder. Sign a few pitchers , a catcher and be done.

    I think Olt has the third base position to loose and has a year and a half to prove himself. Baez will be traded or up around July.(when ever that date is he still has 6 years of control after this one)

  5. Jose's Eyelid

    Saw Bryant “play” third in the Fall Stars game last Saturday. He looked horrible. Hopefully that was an aberration. Wold it not be better to move him to a corner OF where he has the potential to be a plus defender, as opposed to leaving him at third, where he questionable? It is important to have plus defenders at every position, and Villanueva, Olt, and Baez should all be plus at 3b.

    1. CubsFaninMS

      I saw one game where Greg Maddux was rocked for 6 runs in 3 innings. And they call this man a PITCHER?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      1) If it is important to have “plus” defenders at every position, then why do teams like the Tigers and Cards do so well?

      2) What possible reason do you have to think that Bryant could be a plus defender as a LF or RF? When did you see how well he could reflexively judge flyballs? When did you see how well he can accelerate after them?

  6. Eric

    I’d like to see Baez stick and SS and Castro moved to 2nd. Bryant in at 3rd and Rizzo on 1st. That’s a hell of an infield.

    1. D.G.Lang

      If Olt works out I would like to see Olt at 3rd with Bryant in the outfield. But that’s only if Olt is an above average 3rd. baseman. It seems quite possible that Bryant could work out as a corner outfielder but there is no indications that I know of that Olt could do the same.

      On the other hand if Solar is very successful then he should get one of the outfield positions while Almora gets centerfield which would make it worthwhile for Bryant to get the other outfield position. Things would be very interesting if we had another outstanding outfielder other than Bryant to go along with Solar and Almora.

      I tend to lean towards getting the best possible players at EVERY position to produce the best possible team results rather than sticking to only a single predetermined position for each player which might cause one position somewhere to fall below average. However, this requires that each player is capable at more than one position and is willing to be used where he helps the team the most.

      To wind up with four potent offensive and defensive infielders I would be more than willing to let a fifth quality infielder move to the outfield if he could handle it rather than saying once an infielder ALWAYS an infielder which might cause an outfield position to be insufficient.

  7. ssckelley

    idk Brett, not sure I want to hang out with a guy that has to decide between his wife or his mother to take on a trip to New York. But then again I am easy to please, just get me a big screen HDTV, an ice cold beer, and some snacks and I could have fun hanging out with any Cub fans during a game if I cannot get to Wrigley.

  8. ssckelley

    About 3rd base, any chance Villanueva gets a crack at it in spring training? He did play all last season in AA so we are not talking about a huge jump to the major leagues.

  9. CubChymyst

    The position shuffle for these prospects is what I am most entertained by. I want to see how this FO attempts to put forth a balanced line up of LH and RH. I could see a few professional LH on the bench, or the trading of a prospect or current MLB player. I just don’t see the FO keeping Castro and Baez. Either one could net that TOR the team needs, and would open an extra positional spot for a LH or SH. However, I think it is to early to make a decision on Castro and Baez, and see both remaining with the Cubs till at least the trade deadline next year.

  10. papabear

    They will leave Villanueva, Alcantar and Baez down till past July. That way they can have control one more year.

    Castro starts the season off real well i can see him and Barney traded in july. Alcantar and Baez take over ss and 2nd.

    1. hansman

      They only need to keep them down for about 10 days to get another year of control. You are thinking of super-two status which they wouldn’t care about if an earlier callup was in the best interest of the player.

    2. cub2014

      your best defense would be Castro at SS and Baez
      at 3B and Bryant in left. As far as Castro goes if he
      gets off to a good start you keep him (he is cost
      controlled and fits perfect in to this rebuild) if he
      struggles again then maybe you trade him (wont
      get much out of him) but remember he is a 2 time
      all-star Baez,Bryant,Alcantera,Villanueva,Olt havent
      done anything yet.

  11. Nate Dawg

    Dude should have installed a trough instead of a urinal.

  12. Blackhawks1963

    There’s an interesting dynamic at play with Baez and Bryant. Both I believe arrive on the Cub doorstep at some point in 2014, barring of course unforseen injuries.

    In terms of where on the field each plays? Well, to me the wildcard is actually Castro in this regard. Are the Cubs going to trade Castro? If not now, then within the next year? Does this mean therefore that the Cubs want to keep Baez playing shortstop right now for a reason? And therefore keep Bryant at 3rd base, even though his defense at the hot corner is dicey? Or is Castro going to be a long-term fixture? Meaning Baez moves to 3rd base and Bryant moves to left field?

    My dream would be the following….

    3rd – Bryant
    SS – Baez
    2nd – Alcantara
    w/ Castro eventually traded

  13. papabear

    If Olt doesn’t pan out by then Villuanueva could take his spot.

  14. terenceman

    I keep my expectations pretty low these days but I will be pretty disappointed if Baez and Bryant aren’t knocking on the door by late July.

  15. papabear

    I believe Baez will be in chicago around July 2014 – Bryant will be July 2015. If all goes well

  16. Kyle

    I know I’m fighting an uphill battle, but we don’t *have* to reference the best case or optimistic scenario every time we refer to a prospect’s promotion schedule.

    Bryant should be projected to make the major leagues sometime in 2015. We’re talking about a player who has less than 150 professional plate appearances in regular-season leagues, and none above Daytona. Two years is the ordinary timeline for elite college hitters.

    Yes, Bryant could make it in 2014. Heck, could be the Opening Day starter. But somehow these sorts of expectations always slowly morph from “Is it theoretically possible if everything goes precisely perfectly?” into the default expectation.

    Bryant (and this goes doubly for Baez) is still extremely raw and still has plenty to learn in the minors. With the Cubs likely to be pretty bad next year, there’s absolutely no pressure to call them up when they are still rough but ready to pitch in. Both could easily benefit from a full year in the minors, and by the time the minor league season ends, you have to ask yourself if a few weeks of big league experience in September is worth losing the chance to game service time in their first full season.

    My best guess at this point is that it’s unlikely that either debuts before September 2014, and at that point it’s 50/50 for either of them.

    1. ssckelley

      50/50?????????? Hell, by the tone of your posts I would have thought you were closer to 10% chance. We have been on the opposite sides of Bryant/Baez debut arguments and I have only been 50/50. I only think either of them will make an appearance in 2014 is if they are destroying minor league pitching. If Baez is striking out over 30% in Iowa I don’t think they call him up, and Bryant has at least to levels of the minors to get through as I think his best case is he starts next season in AA.

      1. ssckelley

        2 not “to”

        Sorry guys, Kyle got me excited over his 50/50 talk.

      2. Kyle

        Oh, I definitely think there’s a decent chance. Bryant’s scouting reports are legit exciting right now, people who know what they are talking about seem to love him.

        1. ssckelley

          In that case I think you and I are about on the same page on Bryant’s/Baez’s time table to Chicago.

          1. Kyle

            If I had to lay down an absolute guess on their exact arrival date:

            Baez September 2014
            Bryant May 2015

            1. ssckelley

              Thank gawd!

              Baez – June 2014
              Bryant – September 2014

    2. MightyBear

      I agree.

    3. Headscratchin

      But are we doing the same thing with his defense? All of the “if everything goes perfectly he could be here by” sounds very similar to the “if he plays as poor of defense” comments. I seem to remember a lot of fans questioning how we could bring that Ramirez guy to Chicago from the Pirates with is “horrible” defense.

      1. ssckelley

        Their hitting is going to dictate how quickly they get to the minors. We need more Ramirez’s in the lineups than Barney’s.

        1. Headscratchin

          We sure do!

    4. JB88

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryant gets a cup of coffee in September if he continues to rake through the minors this year. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get a call up this year.

      The only thing I would be surprised by is if one of the big four doesn’t make it to the Cubs this year and doesn’t claim a starting job.

  17. cubfanincardinalland

    Patience boys. Kid has a stunning swing, ball sounds like a cannon coming off his bat. But he has 146 professional plate appearances. He needs at least 500 more in the minors.
    And I really hope the Cubs let him mature physically before throwing him to the wolves. He is a typical 21 year old 6’5″ young man, he will add 20 pounds of muscle over the next couple years. Please don’t rush him, they have something special here.

    1. JB88

      “He needs at least 500 more in the minors.”

      This may be just semantics, but arbitrary start dates (for a major league career) and end dates (for a minor league career) rankle me. He may need an additional 500 ABs. He may not. There is no recipe for developing all players so prescribing that Bryant needs a certain number of ABs or must be brought up by a particular time is not bound in reality on any side.

  18. Okie Cub

    Keep fighting the good fight Kyle. You’ve convinced me.

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