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very happy kittenAlthough some have seen it as long overdue, I tend to think this is happening at just the right time: Chicago Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant is being promoted to AAA Iowa. That’s the second exciting promotion in as many days, with top pick Kyle Schwarber moving up to Low-A Kane County.

Bryant, 22, destroyed AA in ways that are both barely legal and mercilessly titillating, and, to me, the All-Star break at AA always seemed like a reasonable time to continue his ascension. He got to play in the All-Star Game in the Southern League and participate in destroy the Home Run Derby, and see what those things are like, and he got in just about 300 AA plate appearances. And now he faces his next challenge.

Most say the leap to AA is the toughest, behind only the leap to the big leagues, but, as Javier Baez’s adjustment has shown, the pitching is very, very different at AAA. It’s not only slightly better, it’s slightly smarter. Pitchers at AAA will try to attack Bryant’s weaknesses, and maybe, finally, he’ll actually have some struggles.

As for what happens at third base at AAA, you can presume that the job is Bryant’s, so he can continue working defensively there. Christian Villanueva is a very legit prospect, but his glove at third is unquestioned. The issue with Villanueva, also 22, is his bat. So maybe there is some kind of rotation for him, defensively, where he can still get those much-needed AAA at-bats, even if he’s not playing regularly at third. Or maybe he heads back to AA Tennessee for a little while.

I’m sure there will be much, much more on this promotion in the coming days, since it has been awaited with the same vigor as, like, actual wins at the big league level. I suspect we’ll also hear that Manny Ramirez will soon arrive in Des Moines.

As for the legacy that Bryant leaves behind at AA:

.355/.458/.702 with 22 homers in 68 games. Lulz.

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