Kris Bryant, 3B
Age 22 (1/4/1992)
Weight: 215 pounds
2013 Teams: Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League (R), Boise Hawks, Northwest League (SS), Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, (A+)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 2
How acquired:—Drafted in first round in 2013, # 2 overall
Prior to Cubs
A prep standout at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bryant was a three-time all-state player and earned All-American honors his senior year after hitting .489 with 22 homers and 51 RBI. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round in 2010 but elected to continue his baseball career at the University of San Diego, turning down offers from all the top colleges.
Bryant made a name for himself his freshman year as he earned Co-Freshman and Co-MVP of the WCC after hitting .365/.482/.599 with 9 HR, 36 RBI, and 57 runs. He earned first-team All-American honors as a sophomore as well as WCC honors leading the team with 14 homers while hitting .366/.483/.671 with 57 RBI, and 59 runs. Bryant capped off his San Diego career with a record setting performance, leading the nation with 31 homers. He also topped the NCAA in runs (80), walks (66), slugging (.820), and set a San Diego record with 54 career homers.
He racked up the post-season awards—earning the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award as college's top player. He was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year, Baseball America Player of the Year, a first-team All-American, and the co-WCC Player of the Year. Bryant was presented with the Dick Howser Trophy, which is awarded by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association to the player who best represents courage, character, leadership and performance. While some experts thought the Cubs would take a pitcher with the second pick, the North Siders grabbed the best bat in the draft and signed the second overall pick to a record $6.7 million deal.
After signing, meeting the media, and taking batting practice at Wrigley Field, Bryant made his way to Arizona and debuted for Mesa on July 21, committing three errors in a 0-3 performance. After getting his first pro hit, a double, the next day, Bryant was promoted to Boise, and in his first game in the Northwest League went 0-5 with five strikeouts.
Before Cubs fans had a chance to panic, Bryant would dominate the rest of the year in the NWL, hitting .354/.416/.692 with 16 RBI and four homers, including his first pro blast on July 26. He was named NWL Player of the Week right before a promotion to Daytona. He racked up his second consecutive player of the week award as the FSL tabbed the third baseman his first week in Florida. Bryant helped lead the D-Cubs to the FSL title and finished the year with five homers, 14 RBI and a slash line of 333/.387/.719. He earned Cubs' minor league player of the month honors for August and set his sights on the Arizona Fall League. Bryant capped off his first pro season with a MVP performance in the AFL, leading the league in homers (6), total bases (56), runs (22), SLG (.772), and OPS (1.184). He hit .364 and was named AFL player of the week to open the season.
Bryant's best tool is his bat and here's what Scout.com's Kiely McDaniel had to say about Bryant after seeing him in the AFL, "He's got easy plus-plus power, the expected tempering of the hit tool due to his sheer size, but enough feel to hit and bat speed to project at least a 50 hit tool (.260 average) and I'd put a 55 or 60 on it. Bryant has the unusual trait of his plus-plus power being most natural to the center field to opposite field gap, reminiscent of Mike Piazza.
After his performance in the Arizona Fall League, it was easy to project Bryant starting in AA and that's been confirmed by the Cubs front office, saying he would likely head to Tennessee. After his three error debut, Bryant only made three more miscues the rest of the season in 84 chances, showing the Cubs' brass the ability to stay at third.
Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer talked about Bryant during the Cubs Convention and said he's confident he can play third long-term but still has a lot of things to learn. Hoyer said Bryant had a dream season dominating in college, minors, and the AFL. The Cubs GM also provided some insight on how the front office views prospects and their plight to the majors. "One of the biggest things about the minors leagues in making sure a guy struggles and has slumps. He's gonna have them in the big leagues, and he gonna need to learn to get out of them."
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein echoed those sentiments in November when talking about Bryant saying he we "impressed by what Bryant is doing" and is surprised by the consistency of his elite production this early in his career. Epstein has also been adamant that the Cubs will not rush any prospect to the majors.
However, if Bryant continues to dominate like he did in 2013, the Cubs won't have much of a choice. So if AA and AAA pitchers can't figure Bryant out, don't be surprised to see the 22-year-old making his Wrigley debut.