After sending third baseman Kris Bryant to Triple-A Iowa to ostensibly work on his defense, but really to preserve a year of service time, the Cubs have called up their top prospect and are batting him cleanup today against the Padres.
There is certainly a lot of hype around Bryant, with a segment on MLB Network this morning comparing him to the likes of Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Ramirez and Frank Thomas. Cubs fans are certainly excited for his Wrigley Field debut:
Cubs fans today on the debut of Kris Bryant pic.twitter.com/wLC8TWjhW9— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) April 17, 2015
So, why all the hype for Bryant? Well, there is the tremendous on-field potential, covered here by Beyond the Box Score, and also the fact that Bryant is something of an exceptionally handsome, clean cut, all-American guy, a fact that has not gone unnoticed.
Kris Bryant already messed up by wearing cap to press sesh and hiding his boyband eyes from cameras. Demote him. pic.twitter.com/wyxP1gz8vZ— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) April 17, 2015
On the field, Bryant has been thrust into the cleanup spot in his debut today against James Shields and the Padres, which is a rare occurrence, especially for the Cubs.
Bryant will be the 82nd player since 1914 to start at cleanup in his MLB debut game. Full list not so impressive: http://t.co/1ej86ipUR6— High Heat Stats MLB (@HighHeatStats) April 17, 2015
It's been how long since the Cubs put a hitter in the cleanup spot in his MLB debut? That & more Bryant tidbits http://t.co/qiGPFpDtrt— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) April 17, 2015
Kris Bryant will be the 1st player to debut in 2015 to bat cleanup. 4 did it last year: Jose Abreu, Dalton Pompey, Brett Bochy, Matt Barnes— High Heat Stats MLB (@HighHeatStats) April 17, 2015
In fact, there is speculation that Bryant may be asked to do more than power the Cubs' offense:
Cubs put Kris Bryant right to work. Batting cleanup in his debut. No word on whether he'll be asked to help bleacher construction postgame.— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) April 17, 2015
The hype for Bryant's debut is as big as for any Cubs player since Kerry Wood, says Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue. It's not just fans that are hyped for Bryant, either, as Las Vegas has put big expectations on his debut as well:
It is also important to remember that this is not just a big day for Bryant, but his family as well, eight of whom will be at Wrigley Field today, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.
Bryant: "the journey has just started." Said he slept 3 hours. Called mom 1st, Dad cried when he found out about promotion, Boras ecstatic— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) April 17, 2015
How emotional was the Kris Bryant family w news of #Cubs call up: His aunt went to his grandparents grave at 11 pm to share the news— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 17, 2015
Actually, the best part of the story of Bryant's call up may just be how the news was broken to him by Iowa manager Marty Pevey, who certainly has a sense of humor.
AAA manager and Bryant were talking about the size of the flag poles in New Orleans and manager dropped in "btw, you're going to the bigs"— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 17, 2015