Over the winter, Theo Epstein and the Cubs had a simple message for Kris Bryant: Keep dominating.
It looks like the message was received.
Over the last week, Bryant - the No. 2 pick in last year's MLB Draft and Baseball America's eighth-ranked prospect - has proved his elite status with Double-A Tennessee, earning the Southern League Player of the Week honors.
The 22-year-old third baseman is 13-for-28 (.464 average) since last Sunday (a span of seven games) with four homers, 14 RBI and 12 runs. That stretch includes a two-homer, six RBI day on May 7 and five multi-hit games.
Bryant didn't collect an extra-base hit during Tennessee's 17-13 slugfest victory Sunday night, but he did single three times and picked up three RBI to go with his three runs.
The week-long hot streak pits Bryant's overall average at .331 and OPS at 1.061 with 10 homers, 29 RBI and 33 runs. In May alone, he's hitting .432 with a 1.295 OPS and 17 RBI over 11 games. Those are video game numbers.
This is only Bryant's first year at Double-A and while it is still a small sample size, his ability to adjust to each level is impressive. Sunday was only his 72nd professional game, so there is a need to be patient with a young guy who has yet to face true adversity.
The Cubs won't call Bryant up this season, but with Javier Baez struggling (.151 AVG/.527 OPS with Triple-A Iowa), Bryant is a major reason for optimism for a fanbase enduring another slow start - the Cubs enter Monday with a 12-24 record, only slightly better than the MLB-worst Houston Astros.