The Chicago Cubs have spent the past three years building one of the strongest Minor League systems in baseball. That rebuilding has already started showing fruit as many of those top-ranked prospects have made their ways to Wrigley Field to begin their Major League careers. They have also put up some strong numbers. However, the Cubs' #1 prospect, third baseman Kris Bryant, will not make his Major League debut this year. Still, that did not stop Bryant from putting up monster totals in his 2014 Minor League season, which he split between the Cubs' top two farm teams, the Double-A Tennessee Smokies and the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
Bryant hit a total of .325/.448/.651 with 43 HR and 110 RBI in 138 of a possible 144 games. These totals were more than enough to earn the title of Minor League Player of the Year from USA Today. MLB.com's Carrie Muskat shared the news via Twitter Wednesday morning.
USA Today got a jump on everyone else by naming #Cubs prospect Kris Bryant the Minor League Player of the Year.— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 3, 2014
Bryant is not only the Cubs' top man, but he is also Major League Baseball's #3 overall prospect according to the 2014 MLB Prospect Watch.
On Tuesday, the Iowa Cubs proudly announced that Bryant's 43 home runs means that he also won the Joe Bauman Award for hitting the most home runs in all of the Minor Leagues.
Bryant played in 138 games in his first full Minor League season. Projecting his totals to a full Major League season of 162 games would show why he won the Player of the Year award. Assuming he continued his pace for each category for the 18 extra games that would have matched a Major-League schedule, Bryant would have had the following totals: 155 games, 48 HR, and 123 RBI to accompany that tremendous slash line.
Next, let us compare Bryant's actual totals to those of some of the candidates for Major League MVP awards. As of September 3, the following candidates have these totals in approximately the same number of games that Bryant played.
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins: .293/.401/.561, 35 HR, 101 RBI.
- Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox: .320/.381/.602, 33 HR, 99 RBI
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: .287/.371/.556, 31 HR, 97 RBI.
- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: .305/.368/.502, 19 HR, 94 RBI
- Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves: .285/.359/.515, 26 HR, 91 RBI
Granted, Bryant did not have to face the Majors' top pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Johnny Cueto, or Jon Lester. There are reasons those guys are stars. Yet, Bryant's production does show that he will soon join the aforementioned sluggers and become one of the elite power hitters in the Major Leagues.
Congratulations to Kris Bryant on winning the Minor League Player of the Year award. Congratulations also to the Cubs and their fans on what looks like a very promising future.