The Cubs gave their top draft pick Kris Bryant the highest bonus of the 2013 draft, and there has been speculation on the web that he could make the 2014 Opening Day roster. Could that actually happen, and what could he be for fantasy owners down the line?
Weight: 215 lbs
Age as of 8/30/13: 1/4/1992, 21
On the 40 Man Roster: No
Kris Bryant came into his senior year viewed as a potential first round draft pick, but signability concerns led him to be drafted all the way in the 18th round by the Blue Jays. Rather than signing, he opted to attend the University of San Diego, and hit .365 with 23 home runs and 27 stolen bases over his first two seasons. His junior year performance was truly outstanding, and while his batting average dropped slightly (to .329), he showed off elite power with a collegiate-leading 31 home runs en route to winning three different national collegiate player of the year awards.
The Cubs selected Bryant with the #2 overall pick in this season's amateur draft, and he signed for the largest bonus of the draft, just over $6.7 million, on the day of the deadline. The organization had him appear in two games with their Arizona rookie affiliate before sending him to the short-season Northwest League. After 18 games there, Bryant was moved up to High-A Daytona to finish off the season. In 34 games as a professional, Bryant is hitting .331/.380/.653 with 8 home runs and a 10/33 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Daytona has clinched a playoff spot, so Bryant will get at least a few more games in before the end of the High-A season, and is also slated to go to the Arizona Fall League as well. Bryant is expected to see time at third base there, but also could see time elsewhere, including the outfield.
The Scouting Report
Scouting reports are gathered from other internet sources and written reports, unless otherwise noted.
Bryant's carrying tool is easily his power, which grades out as having elite potential. Beyond that, the reports on Bryant's hit tool vary from slightly below-average to slightly above-average. As a result, we are looking at a hitter who is likely to provide a decent batting average (.250-.260 range in some seasons), with a lot of power (25+ home runs). Whether the power will play to its' full potential will depend largely on how well he hits overall. Bryant is viewed as having an above average arm, although it's not clear as of now whether he will be using that arm at third or in right field. He is considered to have excellent makeup and a hard worker.
What Does His Future Hold?
The biggest questions surrounding Bryant seem to relate to his final position in the long term. He played third base in college, and has played third base so far as a professional. However, between the questions about whether he will be able to play defense there and the multiple options that could play the position in Chicago soon (Mike Olt and Javier Baez among others), a move to a corner outfield spot could be in Bryant's future. His bat will provide positive value at either position, and I can see him settling in as a .250, 25 HR, 85-90 RBI in most seasons, which will definitely have solid value at either position. While I'm not a fan of player comps in general, the one that keeps coming up from a lot of sources is Troy Glaus, and I would say that's not an unreasonable one given his offensive profile and build. I'll be interested to see how he does in the Arizona Fall League, as there is an overall higher quality of pitching than in years past. He'll likely be a top 5 fantasy prospect at third base after the season, and I can see him jumping into the top 50 potentially if you believe he will hit for a better average.
While there has been speculation about whether he should be the starting third baseman to start next year, I would imagine that more likely he gets sent to AA to start his season, while the Cubs determine what they have in Mike Olt, and how soon Javier Baez might need to fill a lineup spot as well. It's a great problem for the Cubs to have, as they can take their time with Bryant and give him the development he likely needs. I would look for him to break into the Majors sometime during the 2015 season, whether it is at the hot corner or in right field.
Bleed Cubbie Blue
For more on Bryant and the Cubs, check out SBNation's Bleed Cubbie Blue.
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