In the most anticipated roster move in recent memory, the Chicago Cubs have at long last called up their top prospect Kris Bryant to the show. In what is a surprise to no one, the move comes on day 13 of the MLB, season thus giving the Cubs that extra year of control in 2021 because Bryant will not accumulate enough days to equal a full service year this season. To make room for Bryant on the 25-man roster, struggling Mike Olt has been placed on the disabled list.
Bryant figures to be penciled into the lineup right away and make his debut Friday afternoon against the San Diego Padres in front of the home crowd (and under-construction bleachers.) In what will now be highly sought-after tickets for this weekend series, it is also fitting that Bryant will be making his debut against the Padres, seeing that he also attended the University of San Diego.
Over the winter, talks of Bryant breaking camp on the Opening Day roster were a grumble. In Spring Training, with every passing home run hit by the slugger, the talks started dominating Cubs’ camp and really became a national story. Ultimately, when the decision was made to have Bryant start the season in the minors, the grumbles became roars. The daily focus around Chicago seemingly became “Bryant Watch.”
Arguably, Bryant has been the Cubs’ best slugger since Spring Training began, and he has been by far the most electrifying player in baseball on this young season. Questions were asked daily to pretty much everyone in the Cubs’ organization about Bryant. If it was not questions of why he did not make the Opening Day roster, it was on when the inevitable call-up would happen. At long last, those questions can now be sent out on the next home run ball off of the bat of Bryant.
Last week when the Cubs were in Colorado and injuries to Olt and Tommy La Stella transpired, the focus shifted to whether Bryant would be called up before the 12-day penance was complete in order to be that saving grace at the hot corner. Alas, no move was made and the Cubs flew back to Chicago without their man. When La Stella was placed on the disabled list, it was not Bryant called up but relief pitcher Zac Rosscup in his place, setting off a citywide groan of displeasure. Now with Olt still ailing from a wrist injury, it is time for the number two prospect in the game to realize his dream at long last.
While the Cubs did have a winning record in these eight games without Bryant, an argument can be made that there were a handful of situations that may have gone differently if Bryant had been a factor. The whole wins above replacement debate just may have been a factor if things had played out differently. In seven games at AAA Iowa, Bryant hit .321, slugged .679, and launched three home runs with 10 RBI. In these first few games, the Cubs third basemen produced a .148 average (last in the MLB), slugged .259, and only had one extra base hit. It is easy to see why Bryant’s bat just may be the savior in the middle of the order.
This weekend, Bryant’s debut will be must-see television. All of the hype, home runs, and anticipation will finally arrive at the Friendly Confines in front of eager home fans. Joe Maddon will certainly impart his wisdom on the youngster and guide him similar to that of Evan Longoria. But with so much hype, can Bryant possibly live up to it all? In time, all signs certainly point toward a resounding yes. To this point, the 23-year-old has handled himself tremendously. That part of Bryant’s game will likely never waver.
Since becoming a professional, all Bryant has done is hit. He has succeeded at every stop in his young journey with a smile on his face. The list of accolades is impressive, and the character of the guy is equally as impressive. Now, at long last Bryant will make his way to the corner of Clark and Addison, and like the billboard just outside of Wrigley says, “It was worth the wait.”