Cubs prospect Kris Bryant on lack of September call-up: “I’m realizing this game is a business”

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Kris Bryant was the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, hit .325 with 43 homers and a 1.098 OPS in 138 games between Double-A and Triple-A in his first full season as a pro, and will win a whole bunch of Minor League Player of the Year awards.

But he’s not being called up to the majors by the Cubs while a bunch of his Triple-A teammates get September promotions.

So what does Bryant think of that? Here’s what he told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

I think now more than ever, I’m realizing this game is a business, and all I can do is go out there and play as hard as I can and make it really hard on the guys in charge. I think I did that this year. If I’m taking that mindset, then I’m not really going to be sitting there with my head down at the end of the year.

Bryant’s lack of a promotion is due to the Cubs not having to add him to the 40-man roster yet and not wanting to start his MLB service time, which was all news to Bryant:

It’s kind of funny, all the rules. Coming into professional baseball, I had no clue. I didn’t pay any attention to it in college, either. At the end of my first season, I kind of know the lingo about all this stuff. I guess the system works in some ways, and in some ways there are some flaws. I can’t focus on that. I’ve always been high on avoiding the distractions.

Based on merit alone Bryant would already be in the majors, but the Cubs want to keep him under team control for as long as possible and they aren’t going anywhere this season anyway. That probably annoys Bryant quite a bit, but he’s handling it well publicly and the Cubs are just doing what almost every team would do in the same situation. Blame the rules, not the team taking advantage of them.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.