excited cat kittenLadies and Gentlemen, the moment you have all been waiting so very patiently for is almost here. As I type this, Kris Bryant has amassed 99 plate appearances this season. The not-entirely-arbitrary cut-off line after which I drop the small sample size warnings for a hitter is 100 plate appearances. Weather permitting, sometime around 7:20 Wednesday evening Bryant will step to the plate for the 100th time, his sample size warning will vanish into the evening sky, and his 15.2% walk rate and .575 slugging percentage will become, in a sense, official.

And that moment we can begin the latest Era of Irrational Excitement. We are less than two days away from being able to state with confidence, free of sample size concerns, that Bryant is completely and utterly destroying Southern League pitching at a pace even Javier Baez could not equal. That’s right, Bryant actually has the higher OPS of the two. Baez clocked in at .983 in Double A; Bryant (admittedly, about two years older than Baez when he was in Double A), now has an OPS of 1.009.

One day, possibly soon, we’ll get to compare those two not just on the stat sheet, but in the lineup side by side.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Iowa took an early lead and never trailed in this 6-3 win.
Tennessee - A four run sixth inning carried the Smokies to their 4-1 win.
Daytona - Daytona almost matched Lakeland run for run. Almost. The Cubs lost 11-10.
Kane County - In a rain shortened game, Kane County lost 1-0.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Javier Baez did what Javier Baez does best. And in addition to his third home run, he also walked twice.
  • [Iowa] Lars Anderson also homered for the Cubs in this one, his first of the season, as part of a 3 for 4 night.
  • [Iowa] Eric Jokisch struck out 8 in 6.1 innings of work, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.
  • [Iowa] Iowa was off to races again in this game. Chris Coghlan stole his 6th base, Arismendy Alcantara his 7th, and Logan Watkins his 4th.
  • [Tennessee] Kris Bryant doubled, his 8th, and struck out. Rafael Lopez also doubled; for Lopez, it was his 9th.
  • [Tennessee] John Andreoli had two more hits and a walk in this game.
  • [Tennessee] Corey Black did not have his no-hit stuff, but he was close. Over 6 innings he allowed just 3 hits (including a solo homer) and walked one while striking out 5. Jeffrey Lorick and Tony Zych put up zeroes in relief.
  • [Daytona] Jeimer Candelario doubled, homered (his 2nd), and drew a walk as he drove in over half of the Cubs runs.
  • [Daytona] Marco Hernandez and Albert Almora both had two singles. Bijan Rademacher also had two singles to go with his double for a 3 hit game.
  • [Daytona] Even though he got a lot of ground ball outs, Rob Zastryzny did not have good game. Over 4 innings he allowed 8 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks while striking out 4. This was the first start in which his walk total has been somewhat inflated, but he has been allowing way too many hits all season long.
  • [Daytona] Arodys Vizcaino allowed a walk, but otherwise pitched a perfect inning in the eighth.
  • [Kane County] Paul Blackburn started this game and struck out 4 over 5 innings while giving up a run on 3 hits. Justin Amlung struck out one in his inning of relief.
  • [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann reached base and stole his 9th bag of the season.
  • [Kane County] Yasiel Balaguert, Jordan Hankins, and Trey Martin all three singled for the Cougars.

Other News

  • Have you watched that Baez home run yet? No? Then you’re missing out. Watch, loop, and enjoy.
  • The longest consecutive game on base streak in the Southern League belongs to Kris Bryant at 24 games. The second longest? John Andreoli at 18 games. That’s awesome.
  • Diehardthefirst

    If Nats are tired of Harper would Cubs consider offering Shark and Sweeney for injured Harper and 2 minor league pitchers?

    • Brocktoon

      Would THE CUBS consider it??

      • David

        I would!

        • Q-Ball

          The Nats would have to be drunk/high/stupid, or all three, to even consider that trade. We would do it in 2 seconds…..

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Sometimes I think that Diehard is Michael Stipe!

    • Chad

      Uh, I don’t think they would consider it. They would jump out of their seats to do that. Even if you got 0 pitchers in return getting Harper for Shark and Sweeney, or Shark, Sweeney, Lake, and Barney, you name the combo, outside of Rizzo and Castro and I think the cubs don’t hesitate, but do the nationals even need SP?

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      The Cubs would get hung up on, the Nats would block their number, and the Nats would spread the offer around social media to publicly shame the Cubs.

    • DarthHater

      All I can say to this is:

  • Spoda17

    Oh no… now Luke is using the cat pictures…

    Bryant is a raking, he may beat Baez to the majors.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      In Luke’s defense, he doesn’t control the pictures. I do.

      And in my defense, cat pictures are always awesome.

      • Chad

        Brett, have you ever watched the show fast n loud on Discovery? A guy buys cars and fixes them/flips them. He bought an 1949 Mercury and a cat lived in the car. Owner said the cat had to go with, and so the garage now has a mascot named Buster. Sorry, saw that episode last night. Thought it was funny

        • Spoda17

          Chad, I saw that episode last night… haha… I did not think of Brett tho…

      • Spoda17

        Fair enough… ha…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I approve of all use of cat pictures in the Minor League Daily.

        And in general.

      • cubmig

        One thing to remember about cats: Cats are not always clean as people say, they’re just covered with spit.

  • JonKneeV

    Luke, you must not have looked at Bryant’s updated numbers.

    He’s at 103 ABs with a .999 OPS as of this morning.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      103 PA, not at bats. But, yeah, I’m guessing the previous night’s data hadn’t updated yet (sometimes it’s delayed, depending on your source).

      Whateves: he’ll need to have a good night to go back over 1.000 while also over 100 PAs. We’ll just say that’s what Luke meant.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Bah. Fangraphs had apparently not updated last night, but I when I tried to confirm if it had last night, my sleep deprived math confirmed it.

      So Irrational Excitement begins a little early. Yay!

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    It shouldn’t be much longer for him to be moved up to AAA Iowa. Southern League pitching is clearly no challenge to him.

    • Norm

      27% K rate…he’s still challenged.

      • CubFan Paul


      • terencemann

        The K rate concerns me a little but it’s very much outweighed by his ability to judge balls and strikes and what he does when he does make contact, imo.

      • jrayn

        Well if he works out the k-rate, then what’s the point of even going to AAA? Perfect approach matched with even average k-rate sounds mlb ready to me:)

        • Norm

          Because AAA has the off speed and breaking balls that AA doesn’t have.

          • http://kempfintl.com pfk

            Exactly. At AAA he’ll see better pitching. In time that K rate will come down. If he strikes out 25% of the time but 75% of the time he’s raking, I’ll take that any day. Take a look at all the veteran MLB players that have high K rates and good averages, HR, RBI, etc. He’s shown he is a solid pro who is learning and committed to learning. So, my guess is that he’ll get that K rate down. Let him stay where he is for another couple of weeks and them move him to AAA’s better pitching and see how he does there.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              There are a few MLBers with fairly high (~20-25%) K-rates and good OBP, but not many with such high K-rates & good BA. After all, the expected BA is (BA given contact) x (1-K-rate): and unless a guy has tremendous power, the BA given contact is strongly affected by BABiP. (Then it’s only highly affected!)

              Here are the median slash lines for guys last year partitioned by K-rates:
              25+%: 0.242/0.325/0.469
              20-25%: 0.263/0.332/0.432
              15-20%: 0.278/0.339/0.442
              <10%: 0.282/0.344/0.396

              In the high K group, only Chris Davis had a good BA (0.286), and he did it because of 50+ HR *and* possibly a little bit of BABiP luck.

              Now, keep in mind that the guys in the 25+% K rates were whiffing at high rates in miLB, and the guys whiffing <20% of the time were not. So, there isn't a "learning" or "committed" factor here, unless you want to assume that all of those guys were not professional enough to do that. However, what really matters is the OPS: and the 25+% group actually has the highest median.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Fun with Chris Davis – he is slugging .382 on the season.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  He’s been hurt, though: I think he’s actually in the DL now.

                  But here is a fun one: the “clutch” Cards are batting 0.03 lower as a team w RiSP than they are otherwise; fortunately, the old-schoolers can blame that on Beltran leaving or Peralta arriving, or Jupiter being in a different constellation….

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Or those are just one of his basic traits. K-rates almost never drop significantly as guys get less “challenged.” (And, no, Javier’s didn’t: his AA numbers were indistinguishBle from a constant rate model.)

    • ssckelley

      His AA numbers are good but not good enough to say he is not being challenged. One can even say his power numbers are down a smudge compared to his other minor league numbers and AFL numbers. As Norm stated his K rate is still a little elevated, although down from the AFL.

      No need to rush him, and you would think the Cubs want to use Villanueva at 3rd for as long as possible in Iowa.

  • ssckelley

    Sharma just tweeted that Kershaw’s next rehab start will be against Tennessee. That will be a great experience for them.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Can’t wait for the over-reactions to Bryant’s game on that one.

      • ssckelley

        Yeah, especially if he goes 2 for 2 with a homer……CALL HIM UP NOW!!!!!

  • CubFan Paul

    Disappointing. I had Bryant pegged for AA line of around .300/.400/.700

  • ari gold

    Soler played yesterday also. Ok, it was extended spring training, but at least he’s getting some AB’s and is getting closer to returning… and then getting injured again.

    • ssckelley

      That is good news, thanks for the update.

  • David

    LUKE: “One day, possibly soon, we’ll get to compare those two not just on the stat sheet, but in the lineup side by side.”

    Yup, that would be fabulous. .. but sticking Rizzo’s left handed awesomeness and .390 OBP would be more fabulous. 3) Bryant 4) Rizzo 5) Baez.

    • Chad

      He didn’t mean back to back in the lineup, just compare them in the same lineup against the same pitchers etc.

    • Crockett

      Actually, it should be: 2) Bryant 3) Rizzo 4) Baez

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke


        Unless the Cubs have a higher OBP slugger for the four slot dropping Baez to five. But otherwise, this.

      • Darth Ivy

        I like it. Just to expand a little?

        1- Alcantara
        2- Bryant
        3- Meatballs
        4- Baez
        5- Castro

        • http://BleacherNation blewett

          OK, I’ll play….

          1) Alcantara 2B
          2) Castro SS
          3) Bryant LF
          4) Rizzo 1B
          5) Baez 3B
          6) Schierholz RF
          7) Ruggiano CF
          8) Castillo C

  • ssckelley

    Looking over the numbers at AA I think the first player to get a promotion might be Rafael Lopez at catcher. He is off to a good start at Tennessee and is 26 years old, I was a little surprised he even got assigned to AA.

    • KHRSS

      Most importantly he is a catcher.

      I heard on a game radio feed that he was converted to catcher, that his bat has always been pretty good but they are hoping defensively he can play the position well.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        He’s pretty good behind the plate. I still like him as a major league backup eventually.

  • willis

    Well, Jokisch if not anything else is solid. He has performed wherever he’s been. I know his stuff doesn’t project to be much in the major leagues, but he always gets it done where he is.

    That pitcher wanted no part of Baez last night after he went yard. Hilarious.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    So….Luke if Javier Baez reaches 100 AB’s with this same type of production its semi-official? Granted he only has 58 AB’s so far and has a hit slightly better the last couple weeks. Its been an ugly start of the season for Baez.

    • Edwin

      100 PA is generally when BB% and K% can start to normalize, so generally 100 PA is the first part where you can start to actually take some of the numbers seriously, although it’s still a pretty small sample size to get too up or down about, especially when looking at minor league players.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Well, not really. If a guy has a “true” walk rate of 10% and the quality of pitching has the same distribution from one set of 100 PAs to the next, then we’d expect him to have 8-12 walks in a little over 50% of those reps: but 7 or fewer in 20+%, and 13 or more in 20+%.

        If a batter has walked (or K’ed) in 10 of those 100 PAs, then although his most likely rate is 0.10, we’d put “error” bars down to about 6.25% and up to about 14.75%.

        If we go up to 200 PAs with 20 BB (or K), then the lower bound creeps up to 7.25% and the upper bound drops down to 13.25%. Even a full season of 70 BB in 700 PA only shrinks our support bars to 8.5% – 11.75%. (This is why claims that “we’ve seen enough” one way or the other after 4 weeks of play are so utterly asinine!)

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Is Baez proving he can hit those junk ball breaking pitches in Iowa? Anyone who has seen him could you break down how his AB’s have been going. I just remembered in spring training when ever a pitcher threw a decent breaking ball that wasn’t completely hanging over the plate, Baez swung out of his shoes and had some ugly swings and misses

    • Crockett

      So, I saw him Saturday in Colorado Springs and sat behind two scouts and next to Darnell McDonald. It was a ROUGH day for Javy.

      The scouts’ comments were…less than positive. His pitch selection was horrid, and he missed two sliders from Dan Houston (a no-name non-prospect) by at least a foot. There was lots of head shaking from the three gentlemen around me. I could go into way more specifics as I had quite a chat with these fellas (who were very open and kind to me…a random fan who got seats behind them), but Brett sort of warned me not to, I think.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Thanks for sharing Crockett! but that is a bummer to hear how Javy is starting be viewed. Hopefully he can turn it around. Out of the Big 4 he has the most upside in my opinion, but his bust potential is pretty high. I think he’ll definitely be a major leaguer but chances of reaching that star power are not great. But small sample size so we’ll have to see

        • DocPeterWimsey

          This is not a “starting to be viewed” situation: a lot of people have been worried about this basically since Javier was an amateur prospect. The one thing to remember, however, is that Javier is a middle infielder. Even if his OBP sucks (and it probably will), then he can still provide value over other middle infielders if he hits 30+ HR.

          • Crockett

            This is it exactly. If Javy is a .280/.325/.480+ guy at 2B…do you complain?


            • DocPeterWimsey

              Yeah, this is why the WAR concept is so important: Javier the 2Bmen is a potential All-Star; Javier the LFer is Mike Trumbo (but maybe with better fielding).

              Put another way, if LaHair could have played 2nd, he would never have been a Cub: he would have been a starting Mariner years ago!

              • DocPeterWimsey

                I will caveat this by noting that I don’t think that Javier is going to bat 0.280 too often. Guys with the K-rates that he’ll have are hard-pressed to hit 0.250. However, if he slugs 0.475 (30+ HR with 30+ 2B & a handful of 3B) with an OBP of 0.295, then he’ll still have an OPS around 0.77: and last year, only Cano, Utley, Peddy & Kipnis did that.

      • Jon

        could go into way more specifics as I had quite a chat with these fellas (who were very open and kind to me…a random fan who got seats behind them), but Brett sort of warned me not to, I think.

        Oh do tell. please!

        • Crockett

          Yeah, I’d like to. But I emailed Brett about it, and I took his response to mean, “yeah, please don’t.”

          • Head and Heart

            Interesting that in ST he was raking and hitting bombs and talent evaluators were all over him saying he may be the top prospect in baseball. Now a few weeks later he is in big trouble? He has a high bust potential but I don’t think a few weeks, or one bad game, in AAA are enough to justify serious concerns.

            • Crockett

              I would say they were just struck by his terrible approach. The bat speed and mechanics are there…the decisions are horrid. And he appears to struggle a LOT with pitch recognition.

              That doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause.

              • Jon

                I’ve accepted that he just might need the whole year in AAA

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            My response was more along the lines of I can’t publish anything like that, or officially sanction it. I can’t tell you what to do, though, as long as you’re not violating any site rules.

            • DarthHater

              “I can’t tell you what to do”

              Well, you probably could. But you won’t. That’s why you rock, man. :-P

            • ssckelley

              Wasn’t it about this time last season we had that hotel lobby incident involving Marmol?

            • Crockett

              Conviently left out that part about my “knees” and “breaking them”, eh Brett?

          • Jason P

            I imagine you’d probably have heard the same kind of negativity about Baez that first month in Daytona last year. If he keeps hitting like he has thus far, it goes without saying we’re in trouble.

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