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Minor League Monday: Kris Bryant

For Minor League Mondays, we are going to be discussing Cubs player's minor league careers. Sometimes there are signs of greatness early on, and sometimes guys come out of nowhere. Today, I will be digesting Kris Bryant, the top pick that panned out.


Bryant was a top 10 prospect immediately after being drafted, and became a top 3 prospect right before breaking into the big leagues. He was drafted out of college, at age 21. He spent two years in the minor leagues, before becoming Rookie of the Year in 2015. He then won the MVP in 2016. Basically, he went from being a fresh faced class A player to the best in Major League Baseball in just four years. Bryant has struggled with strikeouts at times, but overall is a great hitter who puts up a reasonable average, great OBP, and solid SLG.


Kris Bryant has always been and always will be a stud. Here are the numbers.

Kris Bryant had a very interesting 2013, his first professional season. After playing in college and getting drafted in June, he only played 36 games. He shot through Class A ball, putting up a slash of .336/.390/.688/1.078. He struck out 35 times, walked 11, in 146 PAs. K rate 24%, BB rate 7%. With as well as he was hitting, that advantage negated any problems with striking out at that level.


KB went to the Arizona Fall League that year, and played 20 more games. This was likely an attempt by the Cubs to help supplement his shortened minor league season. He raked there as well, with a fantastic slash of .364/.457/.727/1.184. Barry Bonds numbers.


Bryant then got the obvious promotion to AA in 2014. He played half a season there (70 games) and continued to destroy pitching. His 1.160 OPS was a dominant force. His K rate did remain at 25%, and walk rate jumped to 14.4%.


This led to another promotion, as he went to AAA mid-season. In Iowa, he again destroyed all pitching, to the tune of .295/.418/.619/1.036, with K rate of 28% and a BB rate of 14.4% again. As he had trashed every level of minor league pitching he was given, he shot through the minor leagues in basically a year and a half.


In 2015, there was the whole grievance time/should he start opening day with the Cubs situation. While he had been such a good hitter in the minors, he was there for only a short time. Between that and some of the defensive questions, I think there was a valid reason to keeping him down at first. I don't think most guys can rise through the minor leagues as quickly as Bryant did, then belong at the major league level. While KB had to make adjustments to succeed at the big league level, he never played so poorly that some more seasoning might have been necessary. The years of control issue may or may not have been a factor in keeping him down. Regardless, I feel that a kid going through the minor league system in just a year and a half is very atypical. Baseball reference has a hand-age difference tool, and you can see that he was basically two years younger than his competition at nearly every stop along the way.


Just for the record, his MLB K rate is 23.6%. It spiked to 30.6% his rookie year, but he's since cut down drastically. His walk rate in the big leagues is 11.8%, about on par with what he produced in the minors. He hasn't had the bigger batting average like he did in the minors (.284 MLB vs .325 MILB), and his slugging has been a bit lower (.661 MILB vs .616 MLB).


To summarize: KB destroyed minor league pitching so efficiently that she shot through the system. I feel like he's one of a kind, because few top draft picks can develop that fast and then stick in the big leagues. Kris Bryant is the exception, not the norm.




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