CHICAGO -- Just days after promoting Kris Bryant from Double-A to Triple-A, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein all but shut the door on a major league promotion for Bryant this season.
"I don't foresee a scenario where he would be up this year," Epstein said Friday before the Cubs played the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I don't think it's the right thing to do in someone's first full professional season, barring extraordinary circumstances, both in terms of the player and what's going on with the big league team."
So the door isn't completely shut, but after just 105 professional games for Bryant, the Cubs aren't in any hurry to see him take that last step. Then again, in those 105 games, he has 32 home runs -- including one in one game at Triple-A -- and 92 RBIs while hitting a composite .347.
"He accomplished a lot of the developmental goals we set out for him at Double-A," Epstein said. "We felt like a promotion to Triple-A to continue to challenge him would be good for him in the long run. He still has some things to work on, but seeing some more advance pitching ... will be good for him. It's the next step in his development.
"It would be a tremendous accomplishment to dominate Double-A, then go to Triple-A and continue his development and stay healthy all year and be productive all year. If we can look back and say he did all those things in his first pro season, we would be thrilled."
As for Bryant's defensive position, he'll remain at third base for the time being, where he's made 20 errors in 99 games over two summers. Epstein indicated a position switch would be based on the needs of the Cubs at the time. Right field would be a possibility.
Epstein also said that 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber will play mostly in the outfield this summer, although he was a catcher in college. Schwarber was promoted to Single-A Kane County earlier this week.
"We'll have him see a lot of time in left field, have him catch about once a week, maybe twice a week, DH some so we can keep his bat in the lineup," Epstein said. "We'll sit down at the end of the minor league season and see whether that's an appropriate time to make a [position] call."
The Cubs love Schwarber's bat. In his first five games as a professional, he hit three home runs for the Boise Hawks in the Northwest League before being moved up. His bat might tell the story of where he plays, considering a catcher takes more time to get to the major leagues due to defensive responsibilities.
"If we decide he looks good in left field, and his development path with the bat might be so fast that there's not going to be time for the defense behind the plate to catch up, then we might even go in another direction and be a candidate for the [Arizona] Fall League like Bryant was last year," Epstein said.