Results tagged ‘ Kris Bryant ’
It was one inning in the Cubs’ second Cactus League game, but Friday’s seventh was a sign of things to come. Kris Bryant belted a two-run homer in his first spring at-bat, driving in Albert Almora, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Cubs lost, 15-3, to the Angels.
All of the so-called core four of Almora, Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez had at-bats in the seventh. Arismendy Alcantara, another highly touted prospect, popped up to lead off the inning, and Almora, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2012, then doubled. Soler struck out and Bryant followed with a lengthy at-bat that resulted in a 420-foot shot just left of the batter’s eye off a 3-2 slider from the Angels’ Jarrett Grube.
Brett Jackson, another Cubs’ No. 1 pick, walked and Baez, a first-round selection in 2011, lined out sharply to third base to end the inning.
“It was kind of cool — Albert got on with a double, Jorge, he had some good swings, and then I drove in Albert,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, we can do that a lot in the future.”
The Cubs certainly hope so.
Bryant’s career has been on the fast track since the third baseman was selected second overall in last June’s First-Year Player Draft. After he signed with the Cubs, Bryant played two games with the Rookie League team, then was bumped up to short-season Boise for 18 games. His debut there wasn’t nearly as impressive as he struck out in all five at-bats. But Bryant batted .354 and was promoted to high Class A Daytona, where he hit .333 in 16 games with five home runs and five doubles plus 14 RBIs.
And he wasn’t done. The winner of the Golden Spikes award as the top college baseball player of the year, Bryant, 22, played in the Arizona Fall League, and batted .364 with six more home runs, eight doubles and 17 RBIs.
He may be familiar with playing in the desert but this is his first big league camp, and the seventh inning was his first at-bat.
“I felt good up there, I was not nervous at all, and saw a lot of pitches, which was good,” Bryant said. “Home runs don’t mean anything if you don’t win the game, so that’s a little disappointing. For myself, it was a good performance.”
Cubs fans will see a lot of Bryant, Almora, Soler and Baez this spring as new manager Rick Renteria takes advantage of the Cactus League games to gauge the talent in the system. All are projected to open the season in the Minor Leagues. All have seemed very much at home in big league camp.
“It was a good first at-bat, and all the nerves are gone now,” Bryant said.
How can he be so calm?
“It’s just a game,” he said. “You’ve got to go out there and have fun and don’t put pressure on yourself and put a smile on your face and good things usually come from that.”
It worked at San Diego, where he led the nation with 31 home runs.
“I’ve just been blessed with power,” Bryant said. “I’m putting it to use. Hopefully, I can go out there tomorrow and give it all I’ve got and hopefully get a win.”
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo knows all about the great expectations people place on young players. He went through that when he was first called up to the Padres in 2011. Now, the Cubs’ top prospects, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and others, are dealing with the hype. Rizzo will try to ease some of the pressure.
“[The media] is going to crown them the next Babe Ruth,” Rizzo said Tuesday. “People did for me, and it’s part of the game, and they’re going to have to deal with that so-called pressure of coming up. They’re going to have fun, and we’ll make sure we have fun.”
Did all the attention affect the Cubs’ first baseman?
“I put my own expectations for what I do on myself,” Rizzo said. “What other people say doesn’t effect me.”
The Cubs have been adamant that Baez, the No. 1 prospect, will open at Triple-A Iowa. Fans are giddy at seeing the young potential impact players now.
“You say you don’t want to rush them too fast and make sure they can get the right amount of at-bats but they’ve shown they can handle every level,” Rizzo said. “The biggest learning process is up here [in the Major Leagues] — that’s where you learn the most. Adding that third deck of the stadium is huge. You can’t prepare for that.”
Rizzo’s transition wasn’t smooth. He was promoted to the Padres in June 2011, and batted .143 in his first 35 games, and was sent back to Triple-A. Called up again in September that year, he hit .133 in 14 games.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have invited 24 non-roster players to Spring Training, including top prospects Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora. Among the pitchers invited to Major League camp are right-handeders Marcus Hatley, Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Pimentel, Armando Rivero and Brian Schlitter, and lefties Tommy Hottovy, Eric Jokisch, Jonathan Sanchez and Tsuyoshi Wada. Hendricks was the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013.
Five infielders were invited, including Baez, Bryant, Ryan Roberts, Chris Valaika and Jeudy Valdez. The list of outfielders invited includes Almora, Chris Coghlan, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Kalish, Mitch Maier, Darnell McDonald and Casper Wells.
Kalish, 25, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was voted the Red Sox’s rookie of the year in 2010. He’s coming off surgery on his right shoulder in January 2013 which was followed by cervical fusion surgery last August, similar to a procedure Peyton Manning had. Jorge Soler, another top Cubs prospect, will be in the big league camp; he’s on the 40-man roster.
Catchers John Baker, Rafael Lopez and Eli Whiteside also are on the list of non-roster invitees. The Cubs said Minor League catchers Luis Flores and Will Remillard also will assist at times in big league camp.
Cubs pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13 to the team’s new facility in Mesa, Ariz., and have their first workout the next day. Position players report on Feb. 18, with new manager Rick Renteria’s first full squad workout scheduled for Feb. 19.
– Carrie Muskat
The 15 prospects taking part in the Cubs’ Rookie Development Program took a break from their baseball studies to attend a Blackhawks’ game on Tuesday. For many of them, it was their first NHL game, and also a chance to see how rabid Chicago fans are about their team.
“Being at the stadium and watching all the people go crazy during the national anthem, that was awesome,” pitcher Pierce Johnson said Wednesday of the rousing performance before every home Blackhawks game. “I can just imagine what it’ll be like when we turn it around and actually win a World Series. I’m excited. It gives me chills.”
The Cubs are counting on the talent participating in this week’s program to get them that championship.
Joining Johnson were pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch, C.J. Edwards, Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino; outfielders Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Rubi Silva; and infielders Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Christian Villanueva, Mike Olt, and Arismendy Alcantara. Eleven of the players rank among the Cubs’ top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com. Hendricks, who completed his economics degree at Dartmouth, was the Cubs’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The week-long program includes drills, a hospital visit, and seminars, and will end with the Cubs Convention this weekend. The guest speakers included Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, manager Rick Renteria and former player Rick Sutcliffe.
“It prepares us for what’s coming,” Almora said. “They’re teaching us about what to get ready for, what to expect, what they expect from us. We’re taking it to heart, we’re taking notes. We’re in this for the long run.”
* Jason McLeod, head of scouting and player development, said Baez will open the season at Triple-A Iowa along with Villanueva and Alcantara. Bryant could be at Double-A Tennessee, and it was still to be determined where Almora and Soler will start the year.
* Two of the five Cubs prospects injured in a car accident Jan. 6 in the Dominican Republic remained hospitalized. Kevin Encarnacion and Jose Zapata were both doing well but still receiving treatment. Encarnacion played at Class A Boise last year.
* Jorge Soler is 100 percent healthy after a leg injury shortened his season. Soler played in the Arizona Fall League but was told to take it easy, McLeod said. The outfielder has been impressive in his approach at the plate. On Wednesday, Soler said he missed too many games last year, and was eager to get back to playing.
* C.J. Edwards is trying to gain weight. At the Blackhawks game, the skinny pitcher ate an Italian sausage, cheese fries, and a hot dog with cheese on it. Said Edwards: “Anything I see, I eat.”
* Javy Baez knows fans are clamoring for him to get to the big leagues. He’s doing everything he can but everyone wants to know when.
“As soon as possible,” he said.
– Carrie Muskat
Fifteen of the Cubs top prospects are taking part in the Rookie Development Program this week, and had a workout on Wednesday at Northwestern University. Among the players taking part are infielders Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, and Arismendy Alcantara; outfielders Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Rubi Silva; and pitchers Pierce Johnson, Neil Ramirez, Eric Jokisch, Kyle Hendricks, C.J. Edwards, Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino. The week is filled with seminars plus the players had a chance to watch Tuesday night’s Blackhawks’ NHL game.
Jason McLeod, Cubs player development and scouting director, did say Baez would open at Triple-A Iowa and Bryant most likely at Double-A Tennessee.
I’ll have more from the workout a little later today.
– Carrie Muskat
The 2013 season was another step in the Cubs’ rebuilding process. For the second straight year, the Cubs dealt 40 percent of their starting rotation. They seemed to set a record for most deals in July as Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Scott Hairston also were traded. In August, David DeJesus was sent to the Nationals.
In return, the Cubs felt they strengthened the organization with players such as third baseman Mike Olt and pitchers Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Jake Arrieta, Ivan Pineyro, C.J. Edwards and Corey Black. It’s all part of Theo Epstein’s plan since taking over as Cubs president of baseball operations.
All the transactions didn’t solve the 2013 team’s problems, and the Cubs finished last in the tough National League Central at 66-96, the fourth straight year they’ve posted a sub .500 season.
As 2013 comes to a close, here are five storylines from the Cubs’ season:
5. Hot prospects
Every time Javier Baez hit a home run, or first-round Draft pick Kris Bryant won another award, there were questions about where the Cubs top prospects would fit in the big league lineup. Baez, the No. 1 pick in 2011, and Bryant, who was the second overall selection in June, stole some of the headlines from the big league team. The Cubs front office’s mantra is that the kids need time to develop but fans are eager for someone to cheer for. Baez, who belted 37 homers and drove in 111 runs combined at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, and Bryant, the college player of the year who was named the Arizona Fall League MVP, aren’t the only super kids. The list of potential impact players in the Cubs system also includes Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards, and Jorge Soler. Now, the question is when.
4. Marmol, Fujikawa and Gregg
Carlos Marmol lost the closer’s job one week into the regular season, and Kyuji Fujikawa took over but he was limited because of elbow problems. The Japanese pitcher eventually needed Tommy John surgery, and the Cubs had to scramble. They signed Kevin Gregg, who was released by the Dodgers April 3, and he proceeded to reclaim the job, finishing with 33 saves. Marmol was eventually traded to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier, and didn’t get another save opportunity the rest of the season. The Cubs bullpen was a problem most of the season, ranking on the bottom of the National League in ERA, walks, and home runs allowed.
3. Alfonso Soriano is traded to Yankees
For the second straight year, the Cubs were busy at the Trade Deadline, but none of the moves affected the players the way the departure of Alfonso Soriano did. The veteran outfielder was dealt to the Yankees, where he began his U.S. pro career in 1999. He has one year remaining on the eight-year, $136 million contract he signed with the Cubs in November 2006. While fans were critical of Soriano’s defensive ability, he was revered in the Cubs clubhouse. Soriano topped the Cubs in home runs and RBIs at the All-Star break, and they struggled to fill his spot in the lineup after he left. The Cubs may have been the only team to use a backup catcher, Dioner Navarro, in the No. 4 spot.
2. Manager Dale Sveum is dismissed
Sveum was a no nonsense kind of guy. He held players accountable. He believed in face to face communication. In Spring Training, he organized a bunting tournament, and included himself in the bracket. When Sveum was hired in November 2011, Epstein trusted the manager and his coaching staff to compile “The Cubs Way” handbook, to be used throughout the organization.
The Cubs lost 197 games in two seasons under Sveum, but Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer said the record wasn’t the reason the manager was dismissed. There were issues regarding the development of some of the Cubs, and Sveum got his signals crossed with a few players and the front office.
“There has to be a clear, unified message, and [players] can’t be getting different signals from different directions and collectively — myself included — we failed to provide that,” Epstein said.
Sveum wasn’t out of work for long. Royals manager Ned Yost waited one hour after Sveum was dismissed before calling to offer him a job on Kansas City’s coaching staff.
1. Starlin Castro takes a step backward
Castro was disappointed when he didn’t bat .300 for a third straight season in 2012, finishing at .283. But no one expected the shortstop to struggle as much as he did in 2013, batting .245 — including a .167 June. What happened? The shortstop lost his aggressive approach, struck out a career-high 129 times, and often looked lost at the plate. He was dropped to eighth in the order in August.
“This year, it’s too many things to think about [and] I’m not supposed to think [up there],” Castro said. “Sometimes you have a tough season, and you want to please everybody. But it’s not right. You have to listen to the things that can help you — not everything. When you come to home plate, you don’t have any idea, because you listen to too many things.”
Toward the end of the season, Castro announced he was just going to “be me.” The shortstop may be the Cubs’ new leadoff man in 2014 — he batted .263 there this past season — and the team can only hope he regains his approach, especially since this is Year 2 of his seven-year, $60 million contract.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs prospect Kris Bryant was named to the Arizona Fall League 2013 Top Prospects team. The players were selected by the AFL managers and coaches. Voters were asked to consider AFL performance and Major League projectability. Bryant won AFL MVP honors, leading the league with six home runs, .727 slugging percentage, and 1.184 OPS. He was tied for the league lead in extra base hits, runs scored and total bases.
Cubs prospect Dallas Beeler gave up one run on two hits over five innings and struck out five but it wasn’t good enough as Surprise beat Mesa 2-0 to win the Arizona Fall League Championship on Saturday. The only run off Beeler came in the second when Henry Urrutia doubled with two outs and scored on Jorge Alfaro’s single to center. Cubs prospects Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler were a combined 0-for-7 for Mesa, which totaled five hits in the game, played in Scottsdale.
Beeler, 24, was a 41st round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Oral Roberts University. This season, he was 4-2 in nine starts for Double-A Tennessee, compiling a 3.13 ERA, and striking out 35 over 54 2/3 innings while walking 17.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs prospect Kris Bryant was named the winner of the Arizona Fall League’s 2013 Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award on Saturday.
Bryant, the second overall selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, recorded an impressive six weeks in the AFL. He led the league with six home runs, hit .364 to rank fifth, started at third base for the East Division in the Nov. 2 Fall Stars Game, and notched a 20-game on-base streak that equalled the league lead.
In addition to home runs, Bryant also led the AFL in slugging percentage (.727), extra-base hits (15-tie), runs scored (22-tie) and total bases (56-tie). He ranked second in doubles (8), fourth in on-base percentage.
On Oct. 18, Bryant totaled three hits, including two home runs, and drove in four runs. The Las Vegas native has climbed the ladder quickly in the Cubs system. He batted .336 with nine homers and 32 RBIs in 36 games with the rookie-level Cubs in the Arizona League, short-season Class-A Boise and High-A Daytona.
Joe Black MVP Award
In 2002, the AFL created the Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award, named after the former big league pitcher who was the 1952 National League rookie-of-the-year.
Arizona Fall League Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award Recipients
2013 — Kris Bryant (Cubs), 3B, Mesa Solar Sox
2012 — Chris McGuiness (Rangers), 1B, Surprise Saguaros
2011 — Nolan Arenado (Rockies), 3B, Salt River Rafters
2010 — Dustin Ackley (Mariners), 2B, Peoria Javelinas
2009 — Grant Desme (Athletics), OF, Phoenix Desert Dogs
2008 — Tommy Hanson (Braves), RHP, Mesa Solar Sox
2007 — Sam Fuld (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
2006 — Chip Cannon (Blue Jays), 1B, Phoenix Desert Dogs
2005 — Eric Duncan (Yankees), 3B, Grand Canyon Rafters
2004 — Chris Shelton (Tigers), DH, Grand Canyon Rafters
2003 — Jason Dubois (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
2002 — Ken Harvey (Royals), 1B, Scottsdale Scorpions