On Saturday, 6'5", 215-pound Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant was named the Arizona Fall League MVP. Bryant batted .346 with six home runs, eight doubles and 17 RBI in just 21 games of action. For the 21-year-old prospect, it's yet another confirmation of his rising star on the way to the major leagues.
Bryant grew up in Las Vegas and attended Bonanza High School, where he was named a USA Today first-team All-American in his senior season. Following his senior campaign, Bryant was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 18th round of the 2010 MLB draft. After declining to sign with the Blue Jays, Bryant enrolled in San Diego University the following fall.
While at San Diego, Bryant developed into a budding star and took the NCAA by storm in his junior campaign. In his final season of college ball last season, Bryant batted .329 with 31 home runs and 62 RBI. The next closest NCAA player to Bryant in home runs had 21. After winning the Golden Spikes Award for most outstanding collegiate baseball player, Bryant entered the MLB draft again. After drawing interest from the Astros, who held the No. 1 overall pick, the Nevada native fell to the Cubs at No. 2.
Once he arrived in the Cubs farm system, Bryant batted a combined .336 with nine home runs and 32 RBI across low- and high-class A ball according to Baseball-Reference.com. He then carried that momentum into the Arizona Fall League, where he continued to impress.
As the Cubs farm system grows stronger, Bryant seems like he is the most major league-ready out of the bunch. Jorge Soler has been slow to develop in the minor leagues. Javier Baez and Albert Almora are both still young, although they continue to improve at every level. Having three years of college under his belt, Bryant seems primed to lead the charge of young Cubs talent as they make their slow ascent to the major leagues.
For the Cubs who have spent the last two-plus years rebuilding, a player like Bryant who is seemingly on the cusp of being major league-ready has to be exciting. Even though President Theo Epstein has reiterated that Bryant will not start next season any higher than AA, he has also said that the criteria for promotions on the big league club is "dominating the competition at every level." Bryant has done that so far in his career and could be facing brief stints in AA and AAA if he keeps up his production.
It is believed that Bryant could be in the majors by June if he continues to impress the way that he has so far. The third baseman would definitely give a much-needed lift to a fanbase desperate for excitement.
Even though he was drafted as a third baseman, the gigantic prospect could be asked to move to the outfield eventually. That remains to be seen, but if he continues to produce at a high level, he will play somewhere to get his bat in the lineup.
Cubs front office members have made it clear that the Cubs will be hoping to contend in 2015 and more likely 2016, but their future pieces are already in the organization. As the more exciting part of the rebuilding process gets under way, it will be the talented Kris Bryant who leads a loaded Cubs farm system into the next stage of the Cubs franchise.