Cubs' Bryant No. 1, Russell No. 4 on ESPN's top 100 baseball prospects

SHARE Cubs' Bryant No. 1, Russell No. 4 on ESPN's top 100 baseball prospects

In this Feb. 21, 2014, file photo, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (77) takes batting practice during spring training baseball practice in Mesa, Ariz. Every time top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant hits a home run, proud papa Mike Bryant beams back home in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

ESPN baseball guru Keith Law put out his list of the top 100 prospects Thursday, ranking Cubs blue chippers Kris Bryant No. 1 and Addison Russell No. 4.

Bryant, a third baseman who hit 43 home runs and posted a .325/.438/.661 slash line in the minors last year, was ranked 15th on Law’s list last year.

Here’s Law’s scouting report:

Bryant’s swing is very balanced, with a wide setup and good use of his lower half to generate power. While there were concerns when he was an amateur that his bat speed might not catch up to major league velocity, he really has had no problem with better stuff in the pros, probably because his eye is so good and his swing is very short from load to contact. He’s a good enough athlete to be able to handle third base, although he’d probably be better defensively in right field with his plus arm and fewer quick-reaction plays to challenge him. Wherever he ends up, he has 30-homer, .400 OBP potential, and should challenge for MVP awards once he has a few years in the majors.

Russell, a shortstop who was ranked third on the 2014 list, missed part of last season with a hamstring injury.

More from Law on Russell:

Russell is a true shortstop with one of the best pure hit tools in the minors, both of which are a function of his outstanding hands, which are strong enough to produce hard contact yet smooth enough that he makes difficult plays look easy at short, whether it’s a tough ground ball or a quick transfer on a 4-6-3 double-play turn. His swing did get a little longer in 2014, producing more power but also more ground ball contact, as he would get on top of balls he didn’t square up. Russell always will face questions about his position because he’s not a runner, but his footwork is more than adequate, and he has the hands and arm to be above-average there. Shortstops with the potential to hit .300-plus with double-digit homers are rare commodities — Troy Tulowitzki was the only major leaguer to do it in 2014 — which makes Russell’s skill set extremely valuable.

White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon ranks 12th. Law says the left-hander’s fastball command is below-average, but the White Sox have a track record of working with and improving young pithing prospects, “making their system the perfect fit for Rodon’s skill set and mechanics.”

Other Chicago baseball prospects on the list:

No. 14 Jorge Soler, RF, Cubs

No. 67 Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox

No. 90 Kyle Schwarber, C/LF, Cubs

NO. 94 Spencer Adams, WHP, White Sox

You can view Law’s full rankings here (1-50) and here (51-100).

You can also view a video breakdown of Bryant and other prospects from Law here.

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