Bryant Bashes Cubs’ Organizational Depth Chart
For me, the most interesting pick of the 2013 draft was Kris Bryant to the Chicago Cubs. The third baseman/right fielder enters an organization with a logjam on the left side of the infield and some guy named Soler in right field who I hear can play a little bit. If Bryant were a high school talent, the pick would be a non-issue. As a college hitter, he’s the same age as a number of the Cubs top prospects he’ll be competing against. Bryant’s entering the picture shakes up the organizational depth chart in a big way.
A couple of months ago, I discussed Arismendy Alcantara as a legit shortstop possibility for the Cubs. He has rewarded my going out on a limb with a .288/.354/.486 line in Double-A including nine home runs and 15 steals. Has any player in the Cubs organization raised his profile more in the first half?
Javier Baez‘ plate discipline has been an issue this year, but his .281/.325/.511 line is still impressive for a 20-year old in a pitcher’s league. A 59/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a concern, but not as big as many have made it out to be. With a scorching start to June, my hope is he’ll receive a promotion to Double-A where I’ll have an in person look.
Christian Villanueva is having a blah year in Double-A, but has always been a personal favorite. In his prime, I still see the soon-to-be 22-year old as a .275 hitter with 15 home runs and 8-10 steals annually. Add plus defense for the position and what’s left is an above average regular at the Major League level, albeit not a fantasy baseball stud. With Bryant, no player loses more value than Villanueva. If I was with an organization in need of third base help, I would have made a call to express interest as soon as the draft ended.
At 21, Jorge Soler is having a productive season in High-A. He has maintained value throughout the year and may receive a promotion to Double-A with Baez. Nothing has happened for Soler to not be considered the right fielder of the future for Chicago from a performance standpoint.
Finally, the Cubs’ incumbent at shortstop is only 23. When Starlin Castro was signed to a seven year, 60 million dollar deal through 2019, he was considered a steal. Now, not so much. In terms of performance, Castro has stagnated, if not regressed on offense. Never a stellar defender, Castro’s glove adds little value to the profile. 2,170 plate appearances into his career and Castro’s the same player he was as a rookie. If I was a betting man, I’d put a few bucks down on the Cubs flipping the shortstop for pitching at the 2014 trade deadline.
For now, Bryant leaves the Cubs with interesting options going forward. My best case scenario for the near future looks something like this.
2B – Baez
SS – Castro
3B – Bryant
CF – Alcantara
RF – Soler
UT – Villanueva
Trade Castro and some shifting is needed.
2B – Alcantara
SS – Baez
3B – Bryant
CF – ???
RF – Soler
UT – Villanueva
Of course, this doesn’t include last year’s first round pick Albert Almora either.
Add Anthony Rizzo and Wellington Castillo to the mix and it’s a lineup to dream on.
I’m not really a draft guy, but was a little surprised the Cubs passed on one of the big two pitchers given their lack of arms throughout the organization. Rule number one is to never draft for need, but it’s not as if Gray and Bryant aren’t equivalent talents. There was a path of least resistance here and the Cubs chose not to take it. Bryant throws a wrench into the system meaning there’s an odd man out somewhere. How do you think this will play out?
25 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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