There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com don't always see eye to eye. They discuss their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.
Monday is a big day, and not just because it's Labor Day. Monday is Sept. 1, the day that all 30 teams can expand their rosters and an influx of prospects can flock to the big leagues. For contending teams, a late contribution from a September callup can be the jolt of electricity needed to put them over the top. For teams looking to the future, the final month of the season can provide an audition of sorts, allowing young players the opportunity to show what they can do.
With less than a week before callup day, it made perfect sense for Pipeline Perspectives to discuss potential additions. The precise question Jim and I are pondering: Which prospect would we most like to see get called up in September?
This isn't a debate over who we think will get called up, but rather the prospect we would really want to see compete at this level, regardless of whether it will realistically happen. I'm taking the obvious choice of Kris Bryant, while Jim is going "off the board" with an intriguing pick, Julio Urias of the Dodgers.
Why is Bryant, the Cubs' No. 1 prospect (and No. 3 on the Top 100 list), the obvious choice? There are a few reasons. He's at the top of the Cubs' Minor League system, in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Bryant is performing well there, continuing to hit for average and power, just like he did in the first half of his first full pro season in Double-A. The Cubs are clearly giving many of their top prospects a chance to show what they can do, with Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara being joined by Jorge Soler.
Those are simply the reasons why Bryant should get called up. There are some rationales for why he shouldn't. Bryant is not on the 40-man roster and technically doesn't have to be added until 2017. Yes, it's true that Baez wasn't on the roster, either, but this is his third full season of pro ball. It may seem difficult to believe, given how successful he's been, but Bryant is finishing up just his first full pro season. As of Tuesday, he had 713 plate appearances (Baez had 1,350 when he was brought up). These are the reasons why Bryant likely won't see Chicago in 2014.
But let me reiterate that this is a discussion on who we would like to see come up. Again, Bryant is the obvious choice, one that Jim won't even try to dispute. Who wouldn't want to see Bryant take his hacks for a month against big league pitching? He's only leading the Minor Leagues in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS, while sitting in second in RBIs and on-base percentage. Did I mention that Bryant is hitting a combined .306 and has 15 steals in 18 attempts to boot? Granted, no one wants to see him get to Wrigley to watch him run, but it was worth pointing out that he's a more complete player than some people think, with his gaudy power numbers overshadowing his overall game.
Sure, Bryant swings and misses a bunch (154 strikeouts), but that's part of the fun. He's far from a three true outcomes type (though he does have 84 walks) and he's shown an ability to make adjustments every time he moves up a level. Watching Bryant do so against the best the National League has to throw at him would be a lot of fun. Seeing if he could get to 50 home runs in a season while doing it only would add to the excitement. It's not far-fetched that Bryant could get there. Remember last year, between college, his pro debut and the Arizona Fall League, he hit 46 homers in 775 at-bats. Bryant currently has 43 in just 470. What would he do with another month of at-bats? You do the math.
The Cubs are in the NL Central cellar, but they've become a much more interesting team to watch since Baez joined them. If Bryant could hit every day in that lineup with him, Alcantara and Soler, they might be the most entertaining last-place team in baseball, and one no contender would want to face down the stretch.
Bryant's arrival is going to happen sooner rather than later, even if it's Opening Day 2015. I'd just rather see it now and get a head start on the future.