What Does Gregory Polanco's Recall Mean For Kris Bryant?

A pensive Kris Bryant - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates are promoting their top prospect for Tuesday's game against the Cubs. Should the Cubs do the same, soon, with their top guy?

Tonight, we will see the Pirates do something that some Cubs fans want the Cubs to do.

That is, call up their top prospect in the middle of a season.

Gregory Polanco is a lefthanded-hitting outfielder who is putting up excellent numbers for Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pirates system. In 62 games (274 PA) he's hitting .347/.405/.540 with 17 doubles, five triples, seven home runs and 15 stolen bases. He's going to be joining the Pirates' 25-man roster tonight, with Neil Walker going on the disabled list after an appendectomy.

Those aren't quite as dominant as Kris Bryant's (which are approaching video-game levels), but keep in mind Bryant is in Double-A and played college baseball. Polanco was signed out of the Dominican Republic five years ago and has been progressing up the Pirates system since then. Baseball America rated him the No. 10 prospect overall before this season (they had Bryant at No. 8). Polanco is about four months older than Bryant.

Let's stipulate for the purposes of this discussion that we don't care about Super-Two status, or an extra year of contract control -- though yes, those are issues, let's just stick to the yes-or-no of whether Bryant should be in the major leagues now. Incidentally, according to MLB Trade Rumors Polanco will accumulate 111 days of major-league service this year (presuming he stays till the end of the season), and they say that would not likely make him a Super-Two candidate.

Here are some pros and cons (ignoring the contract arguments for now) regarding the idea of bringing Bryant to the big leagues now -- and when I say "now," I would at least leave him in Double-A long enough to play in its All-Star Game, which is a week from today, June 17. He's certainly earned that right, and that would be a great showcase for him.

Pro:

  • Clearly has nothing else to prove at Double-A; has demolished that level. He's hit 22 home runs in 63 games. Only two players hit that many home runs in the Southern League in the entire season in 2013 -- in twice as many games.
  • Has hit .349/.436/.709 with 31 home runs in 358 minor-league plate appearances.
  • Promoting him would show the fanbase that the rebuild has produced at least one player who appears to be of star quality to get to the major leagues quickly, a tangible result from all the recent high draft picks. It would create some buzz at Wrigley Field, and perhaps even get the team to win some games.

Con:

  • Demolishing Double-A doesn't mean he'd similarly demolish Triple-A. Pitchers are better at the higher level. Bryant looked overmatched against major-league pitchers in spring training.
  • His defense needs polishing; he's made 13 errors in 57 games at third base this year in Double-A. The game moves faster at the big-league level and that could lead to more errors and perhaps hurt his confidence.
  • What's the rush? The 2014 Cubs aren't going anywhere even with him. Let him continue to mash minor-league pitching.

So, the question is, and it's not an unreasonable one: should the Cubs consider bringing Bryant to the big leagues this year? There are good arguments on both sides. I'm thinking that perhaps you have an opinion on this. Feel free to weigh in.

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