Tom Ricketts: Decision on Kris Bryant is up to player personnel

CHICAGO -- During a presentation to the Executives' Club of Chicago on Monday, Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts joked that Kris Bryant -- arguably the top prospect in baseball -- is currently only homering "every other at-bat" in spring training.

But in his ensuing question-and-answer session with NBC5's Peggy Kusinski, Ricketts wouldn't delve into the thorny inevitability of Bryant starting the season with Triple-A Iowa.

"That's a player personnel decision and I don't get involved in those kind of things," he said.

Ricketts noted that while some fans and "the agent," meaning Scott Boras, might want to see Bryant up right away, "We have to do what's best on the player development side and I leave that up to the baseball guys."

It's not really a player development issue for Bryant, who leads baseball with eight spring training home runs after swatting two on Saturday. But Cubs president Theo Epstein will undoubtedly point to defensive reasons for keeping Bryant down in Triple-A long enough for 2015 not to count as a full season. The move would save the Cubs a year of player control, and potentially a lot of money, down the road.

Bryant has yet to play outfield in a spring game, a position the third baseman could possibly move to this season. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Chicago's top pick in the 2013 draft would start working out there Tuesday.

It's a hot button issue. Boras has been vocal about it, and Bryant obviously wants to start the season in Chicago. The Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark is keeping his eye on the situation.

While Ricketts loves to brag about where the Cubs' farm system ranks in subjective lists, he wasn't eager to talk about this part of the process.

"You know, I'm not going to get into Kris Bryant," he said again when talking to reporters after the event. "In the end, you've got to do what's right for player development and I'll let Theo make all those decisions."

It's not a bad problem to have young players who are going to command enormous salaries down the road. After three years of losing at the big league level, the Cubs should see some results this season, and Bryant is a big part of that promise.

"It's great to have great young players who are knocking on the door," he said. "When they get brought up is a decision of the baseball guys."