Kris Bryant and Historical Comparisons to Other Top Hitting Prospects

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Kris Bryant and Historical Comparisons to Other Top Hitting Prospects

Chicago Cubs

kris bryant iowa cubs featureWhether it be his majestic Cactus League home runs, his boisterous agent or his own calming words, Kris Bryant has become quite the show in Mesa, Ariz. this spring.

Considering his most recent homer binge, now might be a good time to take a step back and provide some perspective before his eventual call-up.

As an old adage suggests: “You have to know where you come from to know where you are going.”

If Bryant makes the Opening Night roster, his 740 minor league career plate appearances would rank as the second fewest among hitters who were the first position player drafted between 2001-2012. He would join Bryce Harper as the only two players in those classes to make their MLB debuts with fewer than 800 PA at the MiLB level.

Names on that list include Joe Mauer (1,177 PA), B.J. Upton (1,013), Delmon Young (1,182), Justin Upton (957), Evan Longoria (881), Mike Moustakas (1,910), Pedro Alvarez (820) and Dustin Ackley (918).

Noticeably absent from that list is 2004 No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush, who never made it to the majors, but did accumulate 812 PA in the minors.

Harper is the ultimate exception to the rule over that stretch, amassing only 536 PA at the minor league level — 84 coming at Triple A before getting called up on April 28, 2012.

A more fair comparison for Bryant’s call-up might be Longoria, who was selected third overall in 2006. He debuted on April 12, 2008 — 13 days into the season. Even then, he had 881 PA of minor league seasoning. Though, his 158 PA at Triple A stand as 139 fewer than Bryant’s 297.

Prospecting is far from an exact science, even when analyzing the top hitting prospects. Ackley, Alvarez, Moustakas, Justin and B.J. Upton each needed additional minor league appearances before being called up full-time.

Bryant isn’t your run-of-the-mill top prospect. He was a Golden Spikes Award winner in 2013 at the University of San Diego. Though it is awarded to the best amateur baseball player in the U.S., it has only gone to Division I college players, except in 1990 and 2010 when it went to junior college standouts Alex Fernandez and Bryce Harper, respectively.

The five Golden Spikes recipients who are active and on 25-man rosters are Mike Zunino (2013), Bryce Harper (2010), Buster Posey (2008), Alex Gordon (2005) and Rickie Weeks (2003). When called up, Bryant will be the sixth.

Of those players, Posey and Weeks are notable because they received September call-ups in 2009 and 2003, respectively, before starting the next season in the minors. Posey returned to the bigs for good after 208 PA at Triple A in 2010, while Weeks spent all of 2004 in the minors before re-emerging for good on June 11, 2005.

Zunino and Gordon are notable examples of players who received early call-ups — Zunino after 375 PA in the minors, Gordon 576 — but were eventually sent back for some seasoning.

There have been 11 winners who have turned into All-Star position players. Of those players, Will Clark’s 313 PA in the minors is the fewest, with Robin Ventura’s 563 and J.D. Drew’s 624 being the only three since 1980 to have fewer than 800 MiLB PA.

From 1965-2009, there were 45 players drafted second overall, 41 have made it to The Show, including 22 of 25 position players. Bryant will become the 42nd at some point in 2015, as the odds provided by history provided little doubt he would make it to the majors someday. And that someday is coming soon.

But even history suggests fans should apply some semblance of patience, even for the best of the best.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.