The fact that Kris Bryant is a highly regarded prospect will come as no surprise to any of you. We’ve been following his progress since he was the second pick in this year’s draft by our beloved Chicago Cubs. What most of us didn’t expect was for him to advance to High-A in his first season. He didn’t even sign until July 12. Now he’s playing in the Arizona Fall League and is hitting the ball here, there and everywhere.
Bryant’s season has been extended in the AFL, where he is playing for the Solar Sox and leading the league in batting (.438), home runs (four), runs (10), RBIs (13) and slugging (.906).
It’s hard to sneak up on people when you’re the second player drafted, but the AFL seems to be Bryant’s coming out party. He credits his time in college as a major factor in his development.
“Going from high school straight into professional baseball, I think only a certain few can do that,” Bryant said. “I didn’t know if I was the one. Looking back on that decision to go to San Diego and have the coaches there get you better, I think it was definitely the right decision. I think it will only help me in this league and in the future, too.”
One thing for which Bryant has been praised is his work ethic and willingness to adapt to coaching.
“Getting to know Kris in the short period of time [he's been with the Cubs], he’s going to make adjustments when he feels things aren’t right or he feels he needs to make some type of physical adjustment,” said Anthony Iapoce, the Cubs’ Minor League hitting coordinator. “He’ll start making those on his own, or he’ll come and question, and say, ‘Hey, I want to do this.’ He won’t sit there and keep making outs. He’s going to find a way to adjust, or he wouldn’t be the second pick in the Draft.”
Iapoce wasn’t about to make any drastic changes in Bryant’s approach.
“He loves baseball, and he wants to be the best at it,” Iapoce said. “He knows the work he’s put in has given him confidence for what he wants to accomplish.”
We hope to see you soon in Chicago, Kris.
The man managing Bryant and Albert Almora in the AFL is Bill Richardson. He’s in the Angels organization, but is as impressed as we are by the two.
“You’re looking at two special kids,” Mesa Solar Sox manager Bill Richardson said. “Getting to know them now, they are great-makeup guys. Great workers. Almora is a baseball rat. Bryant has power that you don’t see in young players.”
Scouts are liking what they see, too.
“He has total control of the strike zone, is very short to the ball and has power to all fields,” one scout said.
Another added: “It’s not an all-or-nothing swing. It’s very controlled.”
And one more quote about their dedication:
More than anything, the Solar Sox coaches are impressed with Almora and Bryant’s work ethic. Time and again, it’s what keeps coming back to describe Bryant’s rise to the Cubs’ No. 2-overall pick in June.
“That’s the sixth tool we don’t talk enough about,” Richardson said of both players. “Their insides match their outsides.”
Can we just start 2015 now?