It's Kris-mas in Chicago.
Thanks to Mike Olt's injury (and the fact that Bryant is now 12 days short of a full season of Major League service time for this season), the most decorated prospect in the minors is headed to the big leagues in time for an afternoon game today.
Bryant arrives in Chicago as the No. 1 prospect in the game, the reigning Minor League Player of the Year and one of only two players (Alex Gordon was the other) to ever win Baseball America's College Player of the Year and Minor League Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
Bryant's calling card is power, especially a Mike Piazza-like ability to hit to the opposite field power alley. Bryant hit 31 home runs as a college junior, 10 more than anyone else in college baseball that year. It was the most anyone has ever hit in a season with BBCOR bats and the most by a college player since 2003.
After signing with the Cubs, Bryant hit a home run every 13.5 at-bats in 2013 and improved that to 1 every 11.4 at-bats during his first full minor league season in 2014. At spring training this season, Bryant averaged an absurd one home run ever 4.4 at-bats. In his seven games at Triple-A Iowa this year, Bryant averaged a home run every 9.3 at-bats.
So Bryant arrives in Chicago with about as lengthy a track record of productive power as a 23-year-old can have. But he has also shown an ability to make adjustments and to use the whole field. Strikeouts will come with the home runs, but most scouts believe that Bryant has the hitting ability to be at least an average hitter with plus to plus-plus power and some see him as an above-average hitter.
Defensively, Bryant is more of a work in progress. He likely will spend the vast majority of his time in Chicago at third base, his favorite position. Because of his height (6-foot-5), he has to be very focused on staying low on ground balls.
No player is ever a sure thing in their first extended stint in the big leagues. It's worth remembering Mike Trout posted a .671 OPS in his first 123 at-bats with the Angels in 2011. Alex Gordon, the other player to pull off the College Player of the Year/Minor League Player of the Year two-fer arrived in Kansas City with a similar track record of production. It took him five more years before he blossomed into an all-star.
But Bryant is about as low-risk as prospects get. His batting average might suffer a little this year as he gets comfortable in the big leagues, but Bryant's power should play immediately. He has the potential to hit 25-plus home runs as a rookie, he'll pick up RBIs because of his power and his likely spot in the batting order and he has the speed to snag a handful of stolen bases as well.
He will be the biggest star on the Cubs the day he arrives, but he has the even-keeled personality to handle that pressure. It's no longer all about the future at Wrigley Field--the biggest reason for hope has arrived.
WHAT TO EXPECT
In almost every fantasy league, Bryant is likely already on a team. This is a prospect that everyone has already heard of--your grandmother who doesn't follow baseball has probably heard of Kris Bryant by now.
But if for some reasons your league's rules did not allow Bryant to be stashed, he is the player worth blowing your free agent acquisition budget on. He is the best candidate to win the National League rookie of the year this year, and he's coming up so early that you are getting close to a full season out of him.