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June 19, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Keeping Tabs on the Cubs' Top Prospects

by Mauricio Rubio


Kris Bryant was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he will likely play third base and hit in close proximity to the Cubs’ other talented and highly touted prospect Javier Baez.

Before the season started, the spring had created clever illusions about Baez, as Cubs fans and fantasy owners alike salivated at the possibility that each preseason laser beam to the outfield seats would draw him closer to major-league playing time in 2014. A deep slump to start the year popped those illusions, as those same fans and fantasy owners were left holding their heads in their hands and looking for a consolation that could only come after the high-risk proposition in Baez started solving the puzzle that is pitch sequencing.

For Bryant, the adoration would come later; the burn is slow and the embers are still burning hot, as Bryant absolutely crushed Double-A pitching. There was hopeful speculation that Bryant could also earn a promotion to the big club with his stellar play at Tennessee but those dreams are coming to a halt, as the Cubs have made it clear that they would like to see their prospects dominate a level before earning a promotion.

Let’s take a look at a five prominent hitters in the Cubs system and see where their short- and long-term fantasy values are.

Kris Bryant .355/.458/.702 (Triple-A Iowa)
Bryant’s the most advanced hitter in the Cubs system, and he had few offensive issues at Double-A Tennessee during his first full pro season. In the short term, Bryant isn’t likely to help you. There’s an outside chance that Bryant will get the call up sometime in August if he mashes in Iowa like he mashed in Tennessee, but those are tall odds to play. The Cubs aren’t competing for anything and they won’t feel a rush to push Bryant before they make the determination that he’s ready.

Like most Cubs’ prospects Bryant’s real value lies in the long term. The strikeout rates are a concern but Bryant did improve in that regard down the stretch. Over the last 30 days Bryant dropped his strikeout percentage down to 22.6 percent in 115 plate appearances. Bryant has the power and he’s got an idea of what he wants to do at the plate. Bryant will likely be a four-category contributor when it clicks. There’s debate on the average and he won’t steal bases, but I think Bryant can hit for average well enough (in the .280-plus range at his peak) to be a positive in the category.

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7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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mdupske

Is Christian Villaneuva just a speed bump for Bryant at this point? Or trade bait?

Jun 19, 2014 04:56 AM
rating: 1
 
Myles Handley

Villaneuva has little to no value from a fantasy standpoint (low AVG, maybe 13-18 HR if he's a full-time 3B, no other utility), but I imagine you're asking in real life. IANAS, but from the tape I have seen and the games I have watched, I just don't think Villanueva will ever have the hit tool that allows him to play every day at the major league level. He'll have a role in the majors as a glove-first CIF (and a damn good one; the defense from 3B is plus-plus), but it's hard to envision a scenario where he could play full-time.

Bryant will take the reps at 3B every day, and Villanueva will probably take the reps at 1B (Lars Anderson is just a guy). It's also reasonable to assume that Bryant will take 20% or so of his starts at RF (where he will probably end up long-term anyway) to keep Christian at 3B in a part-time capacity.

Jun 19, 2014 05:49 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Mauricio Rubio
BP staff

This is the scenario I envision as well.

Jun 19, 2014 06:08 AM
 
mwphnh

Who gets to big leagues first of any of them; and particularly between the 2 SS? (Baez and Alcantara). I need a SS in a deep NL only league!
Thanks - Howard

Jun 19, 2014 10:04 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Mauricio Rubio
BP staff

I think Alcantara gets there first.

Jun 19, 2014 14:02 PM
 
onegameref

I saw Villanueva here in Fresno last week and he was indeed outstanding in the field. Nice plays to his right and left with plenty of arm despite the murmurs of those around me. He also showed pop that night with a solid drive out to left for a grand slam. It would be nice if they could keep him in the fold but I fear he will end up somewhere else due to the logjam.

Jun 19, 2014 11:13 AM
rating: 0
 
Gjmoak

Any words on Vogelbach? Schwarber?

Jun 19, 2014 16:56 PM
rating: 0
 
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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Tra... (06/19)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Tra... (06/19)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: My ... (06/20)
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