It sounds like Manny Ramirez will get to Triple-A Iowa before Kris Bryant.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Ramirez could be in Des Moines as a player/coach by this weekend after getting a feel for live pitching and working out at the team’s facility in Arizona.
But the Cubs are in no rush with Bryant, who’s leading the Southern League in the Triple Crown categories. Last year’s No. 2 overall pick posted a 1.298 OPS in May at Double-A Tennessee, hitting .407 with 12 homers and 34 RBI.
“It is fun to see a guy put up that kind of month,” Hoyer said. “Certainly, we tell every prospect to go dominate, and he’s obviously doing that. I think we probably want to see it for a little bit longer.”
In case you forgot, the Cubs still have a major-league team, which beat the New York Mets 2-1 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Chris Coghlan hit the game-tying homer in the eighth, snapping the team’s stretch of 16 scoreless innings. With two outs in the ninth, Nate Schierholtz drove a ball into right field, scoring Anthony Rizzo and causing a mob scene on the infield after the walk-off win.
While the focus has been on the farm system, the draft and the rooftops, the Cubs still have the worst record in baseball (21-34).
At some point this summer, the organization will give in and promote Bryant to Iowa, where he could work with Ramirez, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of any generation (and someone who’s been accused of being a cheater, a quitter and a bad teammate before finding religion and turning his life around).
One year ago at this time, the Cubs drafted Bryant out of the University of San Diego, and all he’s done since then is smash expectations. He signed for $6.7 million and put up a 1.078 OPS at three different affiliates, winning a Florida State League title. He became the Arizona Fall League MVP and Baseball America’s No. 8 overall prospect.
What else does Bryant have to prove at Double-A?
“It’s only been two months at that level,” Hoyer said. “He’s been sort of skipping up through the system without really a lot of time at one level. But everything from defense to base-running to what he’s done offensively – I know he’s everything we had hoped for and hopefully he’ll keep it up.”
Of course, Bryant went out and blasted his 19th homer, running his RBI total to 51 in 57 games with the Smokies. Cubs officials want him to get settled and expect the inevitable ups and downs that come with any young player.
What’s left unsaid is the service-time considerations for a Scott Boras client. Imagine the fan/media frenzy once Bryant is only one phone call away in Iowa.
Cubs scouts and executives have gathered at Wrigley Field, preparing for the amateur draft that begins Thursday night. Whether it’s a pitcher or another hitter, they hope to find another foundation piece with the No. 4 overall pick.
“We have been really consistent that we’re going to take the best player for us,” Hoyer said. “We probably will take a lot of pitching over the course of the draft. What we do at No. 4 is still a mystery.”