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The Situation: The Cubs have their best roster since at least 2008, and with Mike Olt headed to the disabled list with a hairline fracture of his wrist, they have called up Bryant to man the hot corner and quiet the clamoring hordes.

Background: Bryant was the second overall pick out of the University of San Diego in 2013, and all he's done since is put up, at every professional level he has touched, the sort of stats that inspire hackneyed cliches about video game numbers. He came in fifth in BP's top 101 prospects this winter, ranking behind only Addison Russell on Chicago's top 10.

Scouting Report: I've been in love with Bryant's swing since he was putting up ridiculous numbers as a senior at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas—he hit .489 with 22 home runs in fewer than three dozen games as a senior. (He also had a 4.78 GPA.) That swing has only gotten better since, as he has improved his plane and incorporates his lower half more. Despite his long limbs his swing isn't excessively long, and because he stays balanced, works counts into his favor and recognizes pitches, he has a chance to hit for average at the big-league level. There are contact issues here because he often puts himself into two-strike counts and doesn't shorten up, but he's one of the few players without plus speed who could strike out 150 times and still hit above .270. His ability to hit line drives on pitches at any part of the plate is that good.

Even if Bryant's hit tool is only average, though, he's an offensive force because of his tremendous power. He's naturally strong with above-average bat speed, and his natural loft and ability to let the ball travel deep allow him to hit tape-measure shots to every part of the ballpark no matter where the pitch is thrown. It's an 80 on the raw power scale, and it's got a great chance of reaching that mark in-game as well.

No, seriously:

Look where the pitch is located. Look how deep the right-center-field wall is. Look at the height of that fence. Look at where the ball lands, somewhere in the great infinity out of frame.

While Bryant's game is advanced offensively, there's still work to be done with the glove, and the defensive position he will spend the majority of his career at could very well be somewhere other than the hot corner. He's an average athlete with 40 speed, though he does have decent hands and instincts to compensate in the field. His footwork can be sloppy, and he often struggles to get into a position where he can make a quality throw across the diamond, sometimes getting forced into off-balance throws. He's also not immune to mental mistakes; in one game against Everett in August 2013, I saw him throw to the wrong base and, after a ball went through his legs, get frustrated instead of hustling after it. I believe he profiles best in right, where his above-average arm would play, but I don't blame the Cubs for seeing if he can stick at third. base.

Immediate Big League Future: Bryant should be the everyday third baseman as soon as he arrives in Wrigley, and while he might experience the same early struggles that most young players do, he should provide middle-of-the-order production in a short time. With the caveat that every player is capable of failure, his floor is basically the rich man's Mark Reynolds. The ceiling is a guy who competes for MVPs over the next decade.

Fantasy Impact: It seems like just yesterday that I was discussing how little time Bryant might have as a Stash List eligible player. Oh wait, it was yesterday. The Cubs' uber slugger is in a class of his own when it comes to fantasy leagues, as he's the only minor leaguer I've ever seen owned in 100 percent of standard ESPN formats. So there will be no talk about the types of formats to pick him up in, or what you should bid in FAAB, because he's already gone.

Regardless of what Bryant turns out to be as a hitter both this year and beyond, there is clearly a current apex forming in his fantasy value. We're all aware of the expectations for him specifically, and the general hoarding of young potential superstars regardless of league type—which makes it very difficult for owners to stop dreaming of parades and statues. In keeper and dynasty formats, it's completely understandable. I ranked Bryant as the third-best third baseman in dynasty leagues prior to the season (behind Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado), and that's still exactly where I'd have him on this, the day of his call-up.

However, in redraft leagues, he makes for the perfect player to quietly shop while the spotlight is burning so brightly. The minor-league stats are mind boggling and it becomes really tempting for owners to pencil him in for a .270 average and 30-plus homers the rest of the season (which would put him in competition for the top fantasy third baseman overall). And while that's not an unrealistic peak line, it's not anything that should be expected from a rookie, no matter how good of a prospect they are. Rookies struggle. It happens all of the time. Maybe Bryant is the very rare exception, like Ryan Braun or Albert Pujols before him, but betting on that outcome is foolish and not taking advantage of those who are betting on that is also foolish. If I could get an easy top-50 player for Bryant in a redraft league, I'd do it right now. Lock in the gain, remove the excess risk and move on.

As far as both the current and future fantasy profiles, let's deal with both the obvious and the overlooked. First, he's going to be a bit more valuable in an OBP format, and those gains will likely be erased in points leagues. This should be expected from a player who should rack up walks and strikeouts. However, what many fantasy owners don't realize is that Bryant is capable of contributing some value on the basepaths as well. Despite having fringy speed (at best), he's 18-for-22 in stolen base attempts in the minors–and given what could be the beginning of a trend in Chicago of aggressiveness, I wouldn't rule out Bryant getting to double digits in steals this year.

So head on over to your host site of choice and proudly hit the "drop" button on your Kris Bryant placeholder. I know you've wanted to for weeks (months? years?), but let Lonnie Chisenhall, Cody Asche, Will Middlebrooks, or whatever other eminently replacement level third baseman you have hit the waiver wire so hard that only the Wile E. Coyote-style dust circle is visible. Then tune in at 2:20 p.m. ET today to watch the fireworks.

PECOTA:

  • 10th percentile: .218/.299/.430
  • 50th percentile: .261/.351/.516
  • 90th percentile: .305/.403/.605

Thank you for reading

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apbadogs
4/17
Can we all agree now that the "outrage" over him being sent down, missing EIGHT games, was a bit silly?
GBSimons
4/17
No, we can't. Bryant's free agency has been delayed a year. The repercussions have the potential to be significant. If I'm him, I don't consider that silly at all.
MylesHandley
4/17
Are you him?
magua11
4/17
He must have known that this would occur....his agent would be negligent if this scenario wasn't painted out for him. It is virtually obligatory for the team to hold him back for the requisite period to maintain the monetary control.
GBSimons
4/17
Sur, Bryant and Boras knew this would happen. Yes, it was the smartest thing for the Cubs to do. I'm not saying it was the wrong move. I'm saying it's not silly for Bryant and Boras to be "outraged" about it.

And the timing sure is coincidental. I wonder what the Cubs would have done if Olt wasn't injured.
DetroitDale
4/17
Bryant's free agency being delayed a year is hardly significant. There's no reason there should be any repercussion, as there's no reason more time in the minors will make him any less likely to become a star. If anything, not being rushed will make it more likely. The idea that the Cubs owe Bryant his fastest trip to the majors and big payday at the expense of their long term ability to win as a franchise and/or their profitability as a business is the next step past ludicrous.

The true outrage is the increasingly high salaries result in increasingly high ticket prices making it harder and harder for the typical American Family to afford to go to games (most of whom live on 1/10th or less of the major league minimum). Telling these people that the true outrage is that a player who hasn't accomplished anything yet now has to spend one extra year getting six figures instead of seven or eight to play a game is appalling.

TheArtfulDodger
4/17
Stop pretending ticket prices and player salaries are correlated. They're not. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1844

What's appalling is you're complete lack of understanding in how baseball economics work and why this is a labor issue in the first place. You probably love the free market, except when it means a team can't control a player an extra year. It doesn't matter that the minimum salary in baseball is six figures if Bryant's real value is in the tens of millions and he's being artificially restrained from reaching it.
bmmcmahon
4/17
I think you've got the cause-and-effect confused. American families are willing to pay lots of money to go to games, and to buy paraphernalia, and to subscribe to RSNs, which means teams are awash in money, and they then use that money to bid up players' salaries.

It's hard to understand why you think it's harder and harder for the "typical" American family to go to games when the number of tickets sold is at or near all-time highs. I suppose it might be that only wealthy families go to games anymore (and that there are a lot of wealthy families). But that's not primarily because players' salaries are high, it's because the owners want to sell seats for as high a price as possible, regardless of what the players are making.
huztlers
4/17
The Cubs demonstrated as an organization that winning is not their top priority.
Muboshgu
4/17
8 days now versus an extra year on the back end, this shows they clearly prioritize winning in the long term
bigchiefbc
4/17
Well I guess Theo was right, he was sent down for "baseball development" purposes. A whole 8 games of development.
walrus0909
4/17
Why am I picturing Mike Olt and someone in the Cubs' front office arguing about how injured Olt is?

"Oh no, it's a hairline fracture!"
"Wait, isn't that just a hair on the X-r--"
"Too late! We've already put you on the DL and called up Bryant. OK bye!"
cubfan131
4/17
As a Des Moines resident there are going to be a lot of disappointed fans at the I-Cubs home opener tonight. They were expecting around 10,000 fans. What's one more game!
Guancous
4/17
Those poor fans will be stuck watching Addison Russell instead.
mattsussman
4/17
I have never heard of this ballplayer
pizzacutter
4/17
Me either. Plus, Cubs.
mjpals
4/17
It figures, really, that Bryant is making his debut on an afternoon when I will have no access to TV, radio, or MLB.com.
onegameref
4/17
I'd say his 60% or 70% projections in Pecota look quite reasonable at this point. If he attains that type of production the Cubs would be satisfied and their fans ecstatic.
sbnirish77
4/17
How many games has Bryant played in the OF in either college or the minor leagues?
NickFaleris
4/17
Zero in the minors; pretty sure he was exclusively infield at USD.
Theman3983
4/17
Bryant did play some outfield at San Diego, mostly in right.
NickFaleris
4/17
Thanks. I knew he logged some time in the outfield with the Collegiate National Team but thought he was exclusively infield w/USD.
onegameref
4/18
He also played some CF at USD. I would like to see him in LF since the balls would be coming to him with the same curve at they did at 3B. Plus they have Soler in RF.
hyprvypr
4/17
I can't imagine people actually suggesting the Cubs, by holding Bryant back for another less-expensive year, somehow doesn't care about winning?

First, don't be delusional, you cannot expect to win right now. It's possible but with such a young lineup and an absolutely loaded minor league system, the Cubs are very obviously predicting success in a 2017-2022 time range. Having Bryant for another year at less then $20 million a year obviously furthers that goal of winning in that time frame.

To me it's clear anyone who thinks the Cubs don't have winning as their top priority simply don't understand baseball strategy in relation to player peaks and salary balance.
bobbygrace
4/17
And in his first at bat, he struck out on three pitches. Clearly he needs more seasoning in the minors.
GBSimons
4/17
Three ABs, three Ks. Time to cut their losses and just release him.
morro089
4/17
You can argue they care more about total wins, not just wins this year. Yes, the Cubs could sign Bryant when he's eligible, but they could spend that potential $25M saved that year somewhere else too.
morro089
4/17
That doesn't belong here
NightmareRec0n
4/18
I've been throwing this around a while: But is there any chance Bryant is Pedro Alvare-esque? I mean Alvarez had the hype too and a .256/.326/.461 in 95 games is pretty great. Just tool wise, aren't the kinda similar? I mean a season of 30 HR with a .244/.317/.467 line isn't an unlikely outcome for Bryant, right?


I've also been throwing around that Buxton's floor could be similar to Bryant now. I mean....If I threw a reasonable comp of Devon White on Buxton, would I be laughed out of the room? I mean a .282/.342/.455 season with 17 HR and 33 SB with absolutely elite CF defense isn't terribly unreasonable, right? At worst, you are looking at something not entirely different than Billy Hamilton's 2014.