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Say hey, baseball: Kris Bryant should make the Cubs, but won't

Monday morning's baseball includes the Cubs' Kris Bryant situation, a Dodgers exec unhappy with social media and a look at Joe Nathan's spring. Subscribe for your daily Say Hey!

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Depending on who you ask, the Cubs' Kris Bryant is either the best or second-best prospect in baseball. The third baseman is just 23 and was selected second overall in the 2013 draft, and he terrorized minor league pitching in his first full season: Bryant started the year in Double-A even though he had just 36 games of pro experience behind him, and he batted .355/.458/.702 with 22 homers before pummeling Triple-A pitching to the tune of .295/.418/.619 with another 21 homers. Those 43 dingers were more than anyone else hit in 2014.

Despite this and Bryant's hot spring, in which he's already gone deep six times in eight games, it's unlikely he begins 2015 with the Cubs. Since Bryant isn't on the 40-man roster, if Chicago waits about two weeks of the season before calling up Bryant, it'll gain a seventh year of team control. You can't just say "We're manipulating a player's service time", though, so the Cubs are telling everyone Bryant needs to work on his defense. It's aggravating, because technically the Cubs aren't doing anything wrong -- they're exploiting a loophole in the system.

It should be noted that the level of competition Bryant is facing in the spring is nothing like what he'd find in the regular season, and he is not without performance questions. Bryant is going to strike out often, and likely won't stop doing so until he's had time to adjust to big-league pitching -- that could take weeks, it could take months, it could take seasons. He's likely to be great, but even Mike Trout struggled when he was first called to the bigs. All that being said, Bryant's future is a lot brighter than that of Mike Olt, and what he has left to learn needs to be learned in the majors. We all know why Bryant will start in Triple-A, and it's not because he'll miraculously know how to play third by mid-April.