Yesterday, we learned that Kris Bryant, together with Arodys Vizcaino and Armando Rivero, would be heading up from AA Tennessee to AAA Iowa. Each should be there for tonight’s game, and I imagine that we’ll hear about the corresponding moves at some point today. The primary question is what the Cubs do with legit third base prospect Christian Villanueva, whose bat is struggling at AAA, but whose glove could be the best at third base in the minors. And before the Iowa promotions, we heard about Kyle Schwarber heading up to Kane County, where he should also be playing tonight. Giggity.
- Joining in the promotion parade is infielder Jordan Hankins, who was an All-Star for Low-A Kane County in the first half, and is now headed to High-A Daytona. It’s a pretty impressive jump for the first full-year pro after hitting .322/.361/.461 (.374 wOBA) in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League. You may recall that the Cubs took Hankins in the 11th round last year, which, in the new draft system, has become a kind of secondary first round. Although that’s still something lesser than the, say, the 3rd/4th/5th round range, it does suggest the Cubs legitimately like Hankins. He’s got a robust .355 BABIP this year, but he’s hitting a ton of line drives and isn’t striking out (just 12.4%). To me, that says the BABIP isn’t luck-driven, it’s hitting-the-ball-hard-driven. As a college player, this is what you’d like to see in Low-A, but we won’t know whether Hankins is truly ready to jump onto the prospect radar until we see what he does at higher levels.
- Hankins has been playing third base for Kane County, which means something had to give at Daytona … and that something is the demotion of Jeimer Candelario back to Kane County. It’s been a disappointing season for one of last year’s big breakout prospects, as Candelario has hit just .193/.275/.326 at High-A. Some things to keep in mind, however: (1) Candelario is still just 20-years-old, meaning that his placement at Daytona was pretty aggressive as is; and (2) his advanced numbers (good line drive rate, normal ISO, normal walk rate, BABIP almost 100 points lower than his career average) suggest he hasn’t been as bad as his slash line indicates. There’s still plenty of upside in his future, but obviously the Cubs felt he would be best served by taking some time at KC.
- Kris Bryant was on The Game yesterday, discussing his promotion and his future (he says third base is his position, but if he’s ever moved out to the outfield, he’s able and ready to do that, too). Bryant, as he is at the plate, is very good at saying the right things, and he tries hard to stay away from reading about himself and checking out his numbers. Distractions, he calls them. That’s the right way to do it, young man – you can only see grown men talking about your sparkle so many times before it gets in your head.
- Patrick Mooney interviewed Kyle Schwarber’s college coach, and he shares some fun thoughts on the Cubs’ hulk of a prospect.
- Rick Renteria talks about the minute-to-minute coverage of top prospects these days, compared to how it was when he was playing (Cubs.com). It’s just another thing that these guys have to learn to deal with.
- Anthony Rizzo with an interesting comment on Kris Bryant (Cubs.com): “I think he’s going to really dominate Triple-A more than Double-A. I thought Double-A was the hardest level for myself personally, and he’s way more polished than I was in the Minor Leagues. He’ll see more advanced pitching now. With the bases loaded, guys would rather walk him and give up one run than four. He’ll put the finishing touches on his approach and hopefully takes off.”
- As Tommy Birch writes, a number of current Iowa Cubs are excited about the coming infusion.
- Lastly, some love for Schwarber on his way out of Boise: