The Rundown: Kris Bryant is Baseball America’s Top Prospect, Cubs to Honor Ernie Banks Throughout Season, Front Office Speaks
Kris Bryant has conquered another top prospects list. And, as has become a pattern, he has some company.
Baseball America released its list of top 100 prospects last night, with Bryant leading the way. Shortstop Addison Russell was close behind at No. 3.
The rest of the Cubs appearances include OF Jorge Soler (13), C Kyle Schwarber (19), RHP C.J. Edwards (38), and OF Billy McKinney (83).
It’s cool to see Schwarber so high on the list — it’s clear Baseball America believes his bat will carry him, no matter which position he ends up at.
OF Albert Almora is a notable snub. A little surprising he’s not on the list at all after coming in at No. 36 in 2014. He had a disappointing season last year for sure, but I’m not sure we can write him off yet.
Honoring Mr. Cub
As expected, the Cubs will be wearing commemorative #14 patches on home and away jerseys to honor Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who passed away last month. The team also will wear #14 hats during both split-squad Spring Training games on March 5.
A pregame ceremony is planned for Opening Night at Wrigley Field, on April 5, and each fan in attendance will receive a Banks commemorative pin.
Additional events will be incorporated throughout the season, the Cubs announced.
Ernie Banks’ passing was huge loss for Cubs fans of all eras. It’s nice to see this type of recognition, and I’m sure the presentations will be impressive.
Front office, Maddon speak
The Cubs brass met the media yesterday — during the first Cubs Spring Training in a long time to have some real optimism in the Arizona air.
As Bruce Levine writes, Theo Epstein admitted that everything has not been perfect over the administration’s first three years, but that things are looking up:
“I have made mistakes along the way. We have made mistakes as an organization. By and large, I think we have performed at a very high level. A building process that can take five to seven years, we have made a lot of progress in three. We have put together an impressive amount of talent in the organization. I believe we have a really nice culture. We feel we can trust each other, and we feel like we are a part of something special.”
I’d agree with this statement. The two major blemishes in the current regime would probably be the Ian Stewart trade and the Edwin Jackson signing.
But despite how bad those moves were, it’s not like they hamstrung the team or anything. Stewart was let go, and Tyler Colvin didn’t go on to do much in Colorado.
And, who knows, Jackson still could end up grabbing the fifth starting spot in the rotation this year and turning things around. Do I think it’s likely? No. But it could happen.
These bad moves pale in comparison to the good. From trading for Anthony Rizzo (and subsequently signing him to a very team-friendly deal), to getting a manager who can make a real difference, to flipping veteran players for impressive prospects and key pieces — Theo and Jed Hoyer have completely turned things around in three years.
Joe Maddon also spoke, promising “something will pop” in regard to “organic moments” such as bringing wild animals or DJs into the clubhouse, writes Carrie Muskat. Maddon is going to be so fun to watch/listen to/read about.
He brought up a “Respect 90” motto, in which players that run hard to first base can have a true effect on the game. Maddon praised Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who he saw run hard to first on a routine grounder in the ninth inning of a Spring Training game.
“What does that say to the rest of the Pirate organization? That was a beautiful moment,” he said.
One hurdle cleared
The temporary restraining order requested by two Wrigleyville rooftops to halt construction of video scoreboards at Wrigley Field was rejected by a federal judge yesterday.
But the Cubs aren’t out of the woods yet; a preliminary injunction hearing is still scheduled for March 23.
According to Danny Ecker, it’s rare for a TRO to be denied and then have the injunction granted. So let’s hope that happens.
* MLB is expected to announce three pace-of-play changes today, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi. The changes reportedly will include managers making replay challenges from the dugout, hitters keeping one foot in the batter’s box between pitches, and play resuming promptly after commercial breaks.