Minor League Honors Aplenty: Bryant, Johnson, Villanueva

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Minor League Honors Aplenty: Bryant, Johnson, Villanueva

Chicago Cubs

Kris BryantIn August, Javier Baez hit 357/.398/.661 with 8 homers and 11 doubles. He was in almost every headline, and, in that month, he cemented himself as the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect going into the offseason.

And Javier Baez was not the Cubs’ Player of the Month for August.

That honor went to Kris Bryant, who humbled Low-A and High-A pitching to the tune of a .381/.438/.762 line in 24 August games. Overall, he’s hitting .336/.390/.688 in his 36 professional games, and helped Daytona win its first playoff game last night.

Bryant’s teammate Pierce Johnson took home the organization’s Pitcher of the Month honors for August. In the month, Johnson sported a 1.02 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 20 innings of work over four games (three starts). He struck out 22 and walked 9 in those 20 innings. On the year, the 22-year-old righty has a 2.74 ERA and 1.285 WHIP over 118.1 innings spit between Low-A and High-A. He’s struck out 124 and walked just 43. You might see Johnson start the 2014 season at High-A before a quick jump to AA, or he could just start right out at AA. Johnson sometimes gets lost in the prospect hype shuffle – especially after the dominance of Kyle Hendricks this year, and the acquisition of C.J. Edwards – but he remains one of the Cubs’ best overall prospects.

Also receiving honors was Tennessee Smokies third baseman Christian Villanueva, acquired in last year’s Ryan Dempster deal, along with Kyle Hendricks. Villanueva was named the Southern League’s Hitter of the Week for the final week of the season.

Although he started out slowly – 205/.275/.313 – Villanueva turned it on for the rest of the season, putting up an OPS of .840 or better in each of May, July and August. His .261/.317/.469 line might not look like much, but it was good for 12th in the pitcher-friendly Southern League, and Villanueva is younger than just about everyone ahead of him on that list. If his glove remains a plus, the 22-year-old third baseman is going to present a good problem for the Cubs. He’s already on the 40-man roster, but Mike Olt and Baez could present some third base issues. Remember when the Cubs had no options at third base?

You’ll be able to catch more Baez and Bryant action in October when they head to the Arizona Fall League, and Villanueva could play winter ball somewhere, as well.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.