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kris bryant cubsWe have a difficult choice to make, Cubs fans. Tonight, two games are scheduled to start about five minutes apart (weather permitting) and I suspect many of us will be watching one or the other. In Cincinnati the Chicago Cubs will send Edwin Jackson to the mound against the Reds. Meanwhile, in Chattanooga the Lookouts will send Clayton Kershaw to the mound against the Smokies. Yes, that Clayton Kershaw (he is on a rehab assignment). Yes, those Smokies.

Game time for the Double A game is 7:15 PM ET. That means, assuming he is in the lineup and batting third as usual, somewhere around 7:20 we can probably expect to see the most overanalyzed at bat of 2014: Kershaw versus Kris Bryant.

The most likely outcome is that Kershaw will strike out Bryant in short order, and make him look foolish in the process. Kershaw is a two time Cy Young award winner, after all, and Bryant is in just his second professional season. On paper that is a fairly one-sided battle. But, as we all know, baseball doesn’t always go according to the paper.

How awesome would it be if Bryant draws a walk?

Or singles up the middle?

Or homers?

Twice?

Keep in mind, Bryant already has a home run off Mat Latos this season (and was promptly drilled for his troubles). If he hits off Kershaw at all, or if he even looks good when facing Kershaw, the excitement over Bryant is probably going to get cranked up a few more notches. If he homers off Kershaw, the Internet may well pop a few tubes from the outpouring of unrestrained exuberance by Cubs fans everywhere.

So, what will you be watching? Cubs versus Reds? Or Bryant versus Kershaw?

As for me, well, do you really need to ask?

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa, like much of the rest of the United States, had rain yesterday. This game was postponed.
Tennessee – Tennessee had the day off.
Daytona – Not a lot went right for the Cubs in this 7-0 loss.
Kane County – Good pitching and a late rally carried Kane County to a 2-1 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Daytona] The Cubs managed just two hits in this game, and both were singles. Dan Vogelbach had one, and Marco Hernandez had the other.
  • [Daytona] The Daytona pitching in general struggled in this game, but Zach Cates finished things off with 3 quality innings. He allowed a run on 3 hits, no walks, and struck out 3. Cates now has a season ERA of just 1.76.
  • [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann doubled, tripled, and finished with 3 hits out of the leadoff slot.
  • [Kane County] Will Remillard stayed red hot with 3 more hits of his own. Jacob Rogers, with 2 hits, was the other Cougar with a multihit game.
  • [Kane County] Tyler Skulina pitched 5 innings and allowed just one run on 4 hits and a walk while striking out a pair. Nathan Dorris followed that up with 2 scoreless innings.
  • [Kane County] The most impressive pitching performance, however, came from Zack Godley. The Kane County closer notched his 5th save by striking out 5 over 2 innings, including 3 in the ninth. He allowed one hit and a walk and lowered his ERA to 1.54. If he keeps striking out hitters like this, Godley has a chance to move up quickly.

Other News

  • After getting off to a slow start to begin the year, it looks like Jacob Hannemann is starting to warm up. He has had multiple hits in three of his past five games, including the double and triple in yesterday’s game. In that same span he has a pair of walks against just four strikeouts. In general, his slash line has been trending up lately,  and his strikeout rate has been trending down.  Sample size warnings apply, particularly when looking at the trend lines, but that pattern is not unexpected for a young hitter this time of year.  It is still too early to know for sure what the Cubs have in Hannemann, and the draft day comparisons to Ellsbury remain as ridiculous as ever, but it is good to see his game start to come around. Keep an eye on this guy.
  • Isaac

    Who compared Hannemann to Ellsbury?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Lots of silly people.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        That’s hilarious, he kind of reminds me of like a Rajai Davis type

        • Isaac

          I’d be giddy if he became Rajai Davis.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      A bunch of national analysts when he was drafted.

      That was probably more egregious than the less than enlightened individuals who were comparing Almora to Braun when he was drafted.

      • Isaac

        Now Kris Bryant on the other hand….:-)

        • Edwin

          I picture Bryant as being similar to Ryan Howard or Adam Dunn, except better defense.

          • CubFan Paul

            Left handed 3 outcome guys?

            • ari gold

              I can see Bryant as a right handed 3 outcome guy. In fact, he reminds me an awful lot of Mike Olt.

              • CubFan Paul

                I think Bryant has a better hit tool (with the potential to be plus (7)) than all the guys mentions

                • ari gold

                  I think he’s always going to be a higher BABIP guy as he makes hard contact, but I think the SO rate will hold back his hit tool a bit. But who knows, he hasn’t had many at bats in any league before being moved up. Maybe his SO rate falls quickly once he is used to a league.

                  • ssckelley

                    I think that is the key, he really has not had much of a chance to adjust at any level. I hope in a full season in the minors he can bring down that SO rate. It was never this high in college, I know that does not mean much but it does show he does not have a track record of a high SO rate.

                    The high walk rate is encouraging, so perhaps he is the right handed version of Adam Dunn.

                • Edwin

                  I was just going off of K%, BB%, and ISO. I’m guessing Bryant’s going to K around 25% or higher, BB 10% or higher, and have a fairly high ISO.

          • Isaac

            I have a hard time believing Bryant will be the consistent defensive liability those two remain. They have both had outstanding offensive careers, though…so I am not sure what point you’re making.

            • Edwin

              That’s why I said he’ll be a similar hitter to them, except Bryant should come with better defense.

              • Isaac

                My apologies, I literally read right over the defense portion.

                I also tend to think he has a slightly better hit tool than those guys (but not Braun-like).

          • David

            I would be a bit disappointed if Bryant has similar production as Dunn/ Howard. Especially Dunn. I’m shooting for Braunlike numbers.

            • Edwin

              Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard, in their peak years, were posting wRC+ of 130-140. That’s pretty good. Combine that with solid defense at 3rd or in RF, that’s a 5 WAR or greater player. I would take that in a heartbeat.

              Braun numbers would be nice, but I think Bryant will strike out more than Braun.

  • nate1m

    Wow…way to read my mind this morning. I was just about to ask what you thought of Hannemann and if he could be an early promotion (especially with his age, I think everyone would like to see him moving quickly through the minors). Then, that last paragraph.

  • Dumpgobbler

    I can only believe Hannemann was compared to Ellsbury because of the Theo connection.

  • ssckelley

    Wow, Zack Godley is putting up video game stats so far this season with 21 strikeouts in only 11.2 innings. Damn, not bad for a 10th round pick.

    Luke, have you seen any scout reports on this guy?

    • Darth Ivy

      did you check you comment for typos?

      • ssckelley

        No, I did not…I usually depend on Dave to fix my grammar issues, but my spelling is usually spot on. What did I misspell? The fact I cannot even see it might be part of the problem.

        • Darth Ivy

          Sorry, bad joke. Those numbers are so good that it seems like there’s a typo in there. But I realize the irony of what I wrote, given my grammar error.

  • Darth Ivy

    Over/Under

    Bryant wins 0.5 MVP in his career

    • Edwin

      Under.

    • ssckelley

      I am a kool aid drinker, give me the over.

      • Darth Ivy

        Nothing wrong with that. I’m bathing in the kool aid

    • http://BleacherNation blewett

      Some body has to win it. Might as well be the top college hitter from the 2013 draft.

      • Darth Ivy

        boo-ya

  • JakeMac

    I know for hitters, the SSS ends around 100 ABs. But what about pitchers, especially in the minors? When does the SSS no longer apply for both SP and RP? Is it appearances, IP, strict number of days? Just curious to know when we can dive into those numbers a little more.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      No firm number. At least, not for me, not yet. I like to see 25 innings before I go too crazy, but with some relievers I’ll start deep diving even before that number is reached.

  • Crockett

    I didn’t realize Godley had been moved to the pen, and it looks like he’s never even made a start in the minors. He was the ace of the Tennessee Vols staff last year, and I thought he had a shot of getting to at least AA before his starting career would be over. Interested to see if this immediate move to the pen pays off for him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Just because he’s in the pen now doesn’t mean his starting career is over. It’s fairly common in Low A for a guy to start the year in the rotation, then move to the bullpen for the second half, and vice versa. It helps limit innings on lower level arms, something the Cubs have been very cautious of.

      It is entirely possible that Godley could be a second half starter either in Kane County or Daytona.

    • ssckelley

      I wonder if this was more for need than ability, the starting rotations are pretty well stocked right now with more to come. But if he can keep that walk/so rate at those levels he might make an outstanding closer.

  • another JP

    I can’t wait to see how Bryant does against Kershaw & I believe the kid is a generational talent along the lines of Pujols. Give me the over on the MVPs for Bryant.

  • Ivy Walls

    Here are my long term thoughts on the BIG Seven position players: Alcantara, Almora, Baez, Bryant, Lake, Olt, Soler

    Starting out Olt & Lake are definitely being displayed for trading pieces. Watching Alcantara this weekend he is the real deal at 2B and possesses a difference-maker of speed/power and in-game intelligence/adjustment. I see him up mid-summer.

    That then leaves only 3B open as unless someone comes into pay a boatload of prospects for Castro (or Baez, but Cubs would be stupid to trade him), 3B/LF/RF are the only positions open for four players, (I know there is this idea of redundancy but there again are Kalish & Villanueva, nice utility pieces. I think we see Baez continue to play SS in AAA until Olt is moved and then if Baez has learned some plate discipline and is humbled a bit in the process he is the next real Cubs 3B. It is as obvious as night baseball.

    Then that moves Bryant (like Braun) to the OF, RF/LF where I think Cubs move Lake in another trade package, this actually could be earlier than later and possibly include Russell and Barney. Cubs lose little if not gain some WAR in moving these three for something of a long-term prospect(s). I could see Bryant joining AAA by the second week of May but playing the OF. When I watched the IA Cubs they had Vitters-Wadkins-Mota in the OF all former/current IF’ers. Bryant appears to be far more advanced than most of the Cubs system players.

    That leaves Soler & Almora. Almora is the natural we are waiting for, Soler is the decision because $$ makes this dicier. He could be the RF deal or he could be a marage, soon time will tell, but more importantly Cubs actually need a LH OF’er. Word out here in CO is that the Rockies would entertain something of a package for Carlos ‘oft injured’ Gonzales (AKA CARGO). Rockies don’t have much in their system and might be interested in a Soler plus package which could move Bryant to RF.

    That is what I see

    • ssckelley

      I am interesting in knowing what potential return the Cubs could get for Lake and Olt. That is a ton of strikeouts between the 2 of them. I would think they would need to show a better ability to make contact in order to be worth anything in a trade.

      • Ivy Walls

        It would be part of a larger package, 3B power is scarce these days and CF power also is scarce, what other teams would look/hope would be to coach better approach and hope/seek that more experience will bring them closer to their projected ceilings.

        These are known and known unknowns, imagine Colorado who might be interested in pitcher like Hammel (future FA) and Schierholtz (another future FA) along with Russell, Lake and a mid-20’s Cubs prospect traded for CARGO and AAA LHP Friedlich and another A+ prospect. Rockies got out to a fast start and could use a big pitcher to join De La Rosa, Scheirholt and Lake could platoon in LF with the promise that Lake would blossom as he gets older. Rockies would be able to contend for the WC with Tulo.

        • Brocktoon

          That is…the worst trade proposal I have ever seen.

          • Jon

            haha seriously. Hammell and Schierholtz won’t even net draft picks.

            • JasonP

              Scott freaking Hairston netted a fringe prospect. Schierholtz will net something.

              Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson netted Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Hammel and Sweeney or Schierholtz could net something similar.

              • Brocktoon

                K, but Cargo, Friedrich, and another A+ prospect(I’m being generous and assuming he means high A rather than top notch) aren’t something similar to Vizcaino and Chpaman.

                And I’m not quite buying that adding Junior Lake, the corpse of James Russell, and some unnamed prospect who isn’t any good is going to sway things to our favor.

  • Cubs_Questions

    Glad to see Vogelbach hitting. Though his average is only .230, since April 14th, he’s hitting .306/.404/.408. Hopefully the power comes, but he seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate.

  • D-Rock

    Any way to watch this game? Internet?

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