The wait is over for Cubs fans.
Well, not the more than 106-year wait for a World Series Championship, but the wait for arguably the most exciting young slugger in baseball to join their club.
Power-hitting Kris Bryant, who is widely considered the most talented prospect in the sport, will make his major league debut Friday at home against the San Diego Padres. First pitch is 2:20 p.m. ET. He’s slated to bat fourth against Padres pitcher James Shields.
The Cubs waited to promote Bryant, 23, until now for financial reasons. Had he started the season with the team, he would have been under Chicago’s contractual control until 2020. Now, the team has him until 2021.
Bryant tweeted his reaction to the promotion from Triple A Iowa on Thursday night.
The third baseman has had tremendous statistical success at every level he’s played at so far.
He led all of Major League Baseball during spring training with nine home runs in just 14 games, and in 2013 he was named the most valuable player in the minors. Between the Double A and Triple A levels last season, he hit 43 home runs and knocked in 110 runs while also maintaining a .325 batting average.
Bryant, out of the University of San Diego, was the second pick of the 2013 MLB draft, after he led all college players in the 2012-13 season with 31 homers. The next-best slugger hit 21.
Baseball writers have been fawning over Bryant since the time he hit the pros, noting not only his brute strength but his marketable skill set.
Here’s Michael Baumann writing about Bryant for Grantland.com:
“Bryant, 23, is a minor league third baseman in the Chicago Cubs system, and, simply put, he represents the next step in human evolution. He stands 6-foot-5 and is one of the four or five most handsome men I’ve ever seen, including on television.”
Don’t be surprised if Friday marks the beginning for baseball’s next superstar. It remains to be seen, however, whether he will turn out to be Chicago’s long-awaited savior.
Regardless, this guy can flat-out hit.