The minor league home run race is heating up between four players. The Cub’s Kris Bryant moved into a tie for second place in the competition for the Minor League Home Run title by going deep in his Triple-A debut with the Iowa Cubs.
In his introduction to the Pacific Coast League, Bryant, 22, went 1/4 with a home run and two RBI, striking out once against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Bryant joins a star-studded Iowa Cubs’ infield, sharing the field with two other top-ranked Cubs prospects, SS Javier Baez and 2B Arismendy Alcantara.
Bryant, the second overall selection in the 2013 draft, was hitting .355/.458/.702 with 22 home runs and 58 RBI in 68 games with the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs’ Double-A Southern League affiliate.
With four players within two home runs of each other for the Joe Bauman Home Run Award, the competition is getting intense as three of the four players in the top rank of hitters have moved up a level this year.
Currently in the lead is 20-year-old Joey Gallo, the big, slugging third baseman for the Texas Rangers. With 25 home runs combined between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco, Gallo is trying to defend his title, hitting 42 home runs in 2013 to take home the award.
Bryant, with 23 home runs, has moved into the tie for second place with the Yankees’ Peter O’Brien and San Francisco’s Adam Duvall. O’Brien, 23, was drafted as a catcher but has been spending time at multiple positions since 2013, primarily due to the catching depth in the Yankees’ system as well as the long-term deal signed by Brian McCann this offseason. O’Brien has caught 35 games, played 11 games in the outfield as well as seven at first base between the Tampa Yankees (High-A) and the Trenton Thunder (Double-A). O’Brien has 23 home runs, hitting ten in 30 games with Tampa and 13 in 38 games with Trenton.
The fourth member of the group vying for the home run title is Adam Duvall, a 25-year-old corner infielder for the San Francisco Giants, playing in his first year in Triple-A with the Fresno Grizzlies. The most underrated of the four players, Duvall also has 23 home runs in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, hitting .296/.357/.638 over 62 games.
This race will definitely be fun to watch down the stretch and Bryant’s chase can only be interrupted by injury or a call up to the majors.