Cubs prospect Kris Bryant can’t stay out of the news
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter June 24, 2014 11:19PM
You hear the latest on Cubs slugging prospect Kris Bryant?
Of course you did.
‘‘It’s hard not to hear about it,’’ said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the last fast-rising Cubs prospect to get the kind of breathless, daily updates at Class AAA Iowa that Bryant is getting. ‘‘He’s doing some special things. Not every player in the minor league does that.’’
Like five home runs in his first six games since being promoted from Class AA and a 1.286 OPS, despite zero hits that haven’t cleared a fence?
Or this: Barely 12 months after he was selected No. 2 overall in the draft, Bryant has been selected to play in the prestigious Futures Game on July 13 as part of All-Star week in Minneapolis. Chosen for the U.S. roster, Bryant joins Iowa teammate Javy Baez, who’s on the World roster.
Bryant led the Class AA Southern League in all three triple crown categories (including 22 homers) before his promotion. Baez, the Cubs’ top-ranked prospect (fifth overall in baseball by Baseball America when the season started), is hitting .295 with 19 extra-base hits since a five-week, 15-for-106 slump to open the season.
‘‘As an organization and probably as a city, everybody’s happy that the guys that have been touted and coming through the system are doing well and performing well,’’ Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘There might be a hiccup here and there, but everybody continues to chip away at their development. It’s a good thing for all of us to see it.’’
So what’s the future after the Futures? Kids just have to be patient, right?
‘‘Don’t be patient,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘You don’t want to be patient in the minor leagues.’’
Rizzo’s go-ahead homer in the fourth inning Tuesday off the Reds’ Homer Bailey — the first hit of the game by either team — was his second in as many nights and gave him 17 this season, tying him for third in the National League and tops among first basemen.
He’s also raising the volume on his All-Star candidacy even as the Cubs get no love among the voting public. Rizzo doesn’t appear among the top five vote-getters at his position, but he’s expected to get strong consideration on the players’ ballots.
‘‘If anybody says they don’t think about being an All-Star, they’re lying,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s something you dream about as a kid, that and winning a World Series.’’
The start of Tuesday’s game was delayed 53 minutes by rain, the ninth Cubs game this season delayed by weather.
◆ Catcher Eli Whiteside, who was designated for assignment to make room for Welington Castillo’s reinstatement from the disabled list, cleared waivers and has been assigned outright to Iowa.
◆ For last year’s Futures Game, outfield prospect Jorge Soler was selected despite being on the DL, along with second baseman Arismendy Alcantara, the Cubs’ current AAA second baseman, who homered in the game.