The Chicago Cubs marketing department should be currently on the phone with AC/DC’s people in regards to the rights to play “Thunderstruck” at every home game starting very soon. With the second-overall selection in the 2013 MLB draft, Theo Epstein and Co. went against what most experts had predicted and took the best college bat in the draft over a potential ace in Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray after the Houston Astros selected Stanford ace Mark Appel. Kris Bryant, a 6’-5” right-handed hitter from the University of San Diego, was considered by almost everyone to be the best power hitter available. Over 62 games this season, he hit .329 with 31 home runs, 62 RBI and drew 66 walks for a .493 OBP/.820 SLG. He led the nation in home runs by a wide margin, and was also tops in walks and SLG.
With Bryant, the Cubs get a high-character kid who should hit in the middle of the lineup and be a major run producer. Some question if he will be able to stick at third base, but he should be given every opportunity to prove he can handle the hot corner. At worst, he ends up in left field, although his arm is strong enough for right and his bat would more than justify either corner outfield spot. With Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro locked up for years, and stud prospects Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora more than playing up to their star potential, the Cubs offense could be frightening with Bryant on board.
Bryant’s strong track record makes him one of the safer picks in the draft, as well. As a freshman, he hit .365/.482/.599 over 53 games. As a sophomore, he hit .366/.483/.671 over 57 games. He was also a member of the 2012 Collegiate Team USA Baseball, leading the team with a .508 SLG to go along with three home runs and 10 RBI over 16 games. He also is a pretty smart kid, carrying a 3.35 GPA as a finance major.
With his mix of jaw-dropping power and advanced approach at the plate, Bryant could be a quick riser to the majors. His patience at the plate would be a refreshing sight for many a Cubs fan, as well.
Bryant is being advised by super agent — and thorn in the side of many a GM — Scott Boras, who is well known for being a little difficult to negotiate with and always tries to squeeze out every last cent he possibly can for his clients. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that was put into place prior to last year’s draft, each team now has a fixed amount of bonus money that they can spend in the first ten rounds. The amount is determined by a lot of factors and Jim Callis over at Baseball America does a great job of explaining it here. The Cubs have the second-most money to spend at $10,556,500. The slot value for the second pick this year is $6.7MM and you can bet Mr. Boras will not settle for anything less. It was reported that Mark Appel — also represented by Boras — was going to cost a lot more than that so this may have been more of a strategic move on the Cubs part than anything else.
Regardless, Bryant is a big time talent whose strong work ethic and make-up should make him a fan favorite the same way Anthony Rizzo has endeared himself to the fan base. Bryant would join a farm system that has developed into one of the better ones in baseball over the past two years through the draft, as well as International signings. While the major league team is still fumbling along, the future is coming fast and it’s finally looking like there will be some consistent contention going on over on the north side of Chicago.
Stay tuned for a recap of the team’s second pick later today. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2013 draft updates and Chicago Cubs news.