Profiles in Cub Courage: Kris Bryant

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One of the few benefits of finishing with a dismal record is the opportunity to select a highly regarded talent in the MLB Amateur Draft. As a result of their 61-101 finish in 2012, the Chicago Cubs were gifted with the second pick in the 2013 amateur draft. After the Houston Astros took Mark Appel first overall, the Cubs selected third baseman Kris Bryant.

Bryant is without question a major talent, and has the potential to become a significant contributor and potential superstar at the MLB level. Of course, there is always the qualifier about no guarantees and the unpredictable nature of amateur talent evaluation. However, in spite of that ever present caveat, on the surface, this dude looks like the real thing.

Bryant has an interesting pedigree, as his father played minor league ball in the Red Sox organization. Kris played his high school ball in Las Vegas, and was drafted by Toronto in the 18th round of the 2010 draft. He decided to go the college route, playing for three years at the University of San Diego. Bryant compiled some impressive numbers in college, culminating in the 31 bombs he hit as a junior in 2013.

Since the draft, Bryant has played at two levels in the Chicago organization, and is currently in the High A Florida State League with the Daytona Cubs. He is hitting for power and average at every stop thus far, and should progress rapidly through the system.

From the Cubs perspective, conventional wisdom suggested they take a pitcher with that second pick, especially when considering the relative dearth of impact arms in the system. After Appel went first, many thought the Cubs would select right-hander Jonathan Gray out of Oklahoma. However, the Cubs chose Bryant, and I believe they made the correct call.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been stockpiling quality position players since they arrived in Chicago, and one more could not hurt. Even if logjams were created at certain positions, it would not be the worse problem to have. I would venture that a lack of talent would be worse.

Speaking of positions, the Cubs recent history at third base has been rather grim. The late Hall of Famer Ron Santo anchored the position from 1960-1973, but after his departure a vacuum was created at the position that the Cubs struggled badly to fill. Numerous prospects that were considered heirs to the throne came and went, fizzling out quickly. Many aging veterans were signed as well, but proved to be only stopgaps.

This positional drought ended when the Cubs acquired Aramis Ramirez in 2003 from Pittsburgh in a rather lopsided deal. Ramirez provided stability at third base until his departure via free agency to Milwaukee in 2012. Now, the Cubs are yet again in search of that elusive franchise third baseman.

However, this may prove to be only a short-term issue. The Cubs system is currently overflowing with potential third base candidates. This list includes Bryant, along with Christian Villanueva and Jeimer Candelario, among others. Uber-prospect Javier Baez, currently at shortstop, could potentially outgrow this position and may eventually transition to third at some point in the future.

This brings us back to Bryant, whom many feel will eventually find himself in left field. This is not necessarily a problem, but it is a distinct possibility, as his glove and range may not translate to the big league level.

Is Kris Bryant the Cub third baseman of the future? Only time will tell. But this guy can mash, and I am reasonably convinced that he will become a middle of the order force in the Chicago lineup relatively soon, and remain one for many years to come. He could perhaps, dare I say, even be part of an eventual winner at Wrigley.

Places everyone. The revolution has begun.

Wink.

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Posted on September 9, 2013, in 2013, Cubs, MLB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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