While the Chicago Cubs are spending the weekend promoting their youth movement to their season ticket base, it doesn’t mean their rebuilding plan is going to move any faster. The front office reiterated -- once again -- that they will be patient with their prospects.
“I believe in what we’re teaching, how we’re teaching it and the amount our players are buying in, in the minor leagues and the progress we’re making,” team president Theo Epstein said Friday. “One thing we tell our players, ‘You want to move up? Dominate your competition. Perform.' It comes down to performance.”
Several players have already dominated their competition, like shortstop Javier Baez last season at Single and Double-A and third baseman Kris Bryant in this fall’s Arizona Fall League.
“If you are dominating your level over a significant period of time, you will advance,” Epstein said.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll skip any levels to get to the major leagues. So expect Baez to perform at Triple-A before making it to Wrigley Field. Bryant left off at High-A ball in September, so he has a ways to go.
“I’ve been impressed by his performance so far,” Epstein said of Bryant, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. “This was a very advanced college bat who put up historically good power production at the college level.”
Bryant is hitting .371 with a league leading six home runs in Arizona, while Baez hit 37 home runs combined in his 2013 minor league season. Despite that domination, neither will break spring training with the big league club.
Epstein likened Bryant’s path to former college star and current Tampa Bay Ray Evan Longoria. Longoria was drafted third in 2006, making it as high as Double-A that year. In 2007, he spent most of the season at Double-A before ending the year at Triple-A. It wasn’t until 2008 that Longoria made it to the big leagues. At that same rate, Bryant would make his Cubs debut in 2015. Then again, Bryant is surpassing all expectations.
“[I'm a] little surprised by the consistency of his elite production this early in his career,” Epstein said.
The Cubs may be high on their prospects, but they’re resisting the urge to advance them too quickly.
“It takes great courage to be patient,” Epstein declared.