Pipeline preview: Red-hot Bryant leads Smokies
Cubs' No. 2 prospect on pace for Southern League's first-half Triple Crown
In most full-season leagues in the Minors, there are first-half and second-half champions. But what about Triple Crown winners for each part of the season?
If such a first-half award existed, Kris Bryant would be on pace to take it home. The No. 8 overall prospect on MLB.com's Top 100, and No. 2 on the Cubs' Top 20, leads the Double-A Southern League in batting average, home runs and RBIs, the standard Triple Crown categories. For good measure, he also tops the circuit in on-base percentage and slugging percentage and, obviously, OPS.
Fans can watch the No. 2 overall pick from the 2013 Draft swing his very hot bat on MiLB.TV on Monday night at 7:15 p.m. ET as Bryant leads his Tennessee Smokies against the Birmingham Barons. Barons starter Bryan Blough will have his hands full with Bryant, who hit .407/.492/.806 in May. He's hit homers in four of his last five games and five of his last seven.
Bryant's 18 home runs put him third in the Minor Leagues, and he'll try to catch up to Peter O'Brien of the Yankees (20) and Minor League leader Joey Gallo, who has 21. O'Brien, No. 20 on the Yankees' list, began the year in the Florida State League, then earned a promotion after hitting 10 homers in 30 games. He's hit 10 more out since he moved up to Double-A Trenton, but will have to sit and watch Bryant try to slug his way closer with a day off in the Eastern League.
Gallo, on the other hand, is in action. The No. 79 overall prospect and No. 4 on the Rangers' Top 20, hit 12 homers in May to take over the Minor League lead, a full-season crown he won in 2013. His Myrtle Beach Pelicans host the Carolina Mudcats in Carolina League action, a game also on MiLB.TV, at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Top prospect probables
Andrew Thurman (Astros' No. 15), Quad Cities at Wisconsin
Zach Eflin (Padres' No. 11), Lake Elsinore at Visalia
Tyler Pike (Mariners' No. 9), High Desert vs. Bakersfield
Ben Lively (Reds' No. 12), Bakersfield at High Desert
Daniel Norris (Blue Jays' No. 4), Dunedin at Jupiter
Trevor Williams (Marlins' No. 10), Jupiter vs. Dunedin
Tyler Glasnow (Pirates' No. 3), Bradenton at Clearwater
Sal Romano (Reds' No. 14), Dayton vs. Lansing
Lucas Sims (Braves' No. 1), Lynchburg at Winston-Salem
Branden Kline (Orioles' No. 14), Frederick vs. Wilmington
Alex Meyer (Twins' No. 3), Rochester vs. Gwinnett
Zach Bird (Dodgers' No. 13), Great Lakes vs. Lake County
Matt Barnes (Red Sox's No. 6), Pawtucket at Norfolk
Kevin Ziomek (Tigers' No. 13), West Michigan at Fort Wayne
Chris Reed (Dodgers' No. 6), Chattanooga vs. Mobile
Rob Kaminsky (Cardinals' No. 3), Peoria vs. Kane County
Duane Underwood (Cubs' No. 20), Kane County at Peoria
Taylor Jungmann (Brewers' No. 8), Nashville vs. Iowa
Nick Tropeano (Astros' No. 16), Oklahoma City vs. Memphis
J.R. Graham (Braves' No. 6), Mississippi at Montgomery
Lance McCullers (Astros' No. 4), Lancaster vs. Ranco Cucamonga
Tom Windle (Dodgers' No. 7), Rancho Cucamonga at Lancaster
Andrew Chafin (D-backs' No. 12), Reno at Las Vegas
Edwin Escobar (Giants' No. 2), Fresno vs. Sacramento