Kris Bryant Scouting Report (2014)
The Kris Bryant hype machine is running wild, showing no signs of slowing down. Drafted by the Chicago Cubs last season, Bryant turned Northwest, Florida State and Arizona Fall League pitchers into silly putty. Articles by national baseball writers including Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman and Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan further fueled prospect rankings. Assigned to Double-A Tennessee out of Spring Training, a .295/.417/.543 slash line has prospect followers clamoring for his MLB debut. Is this a hot start against lesser competition, or is Kris Bryant a future franchise player for the championship deprived Cubs organization?
Listed at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Bryant’s a physical specimen. His forearms are chiseled, shoulders are broad and back is muscular. Still, Bryant has the frame to add twenty more pounds and retain his athleticism. An average runner, his speed plays up on the bases due to plus instincts and tight turns around the bases.
On defense, Bryant played a stronger third base than his fielding percentage would indicate. His plus throwing arm plays anywhere on the diamond. Strong and accurate, Bryant never rushed his throws and delivered strikes to the first baseman on every chance. He displays body control at third, reacting quickly to balls to either side. He also charges balls well.
On a Darnell Sweeney drag bunt attempt, Bryant fielded the ball with one hand and unleashed a bullet to retire the speedy infielder. He made exceptional plays on balls to either side, showcasing strong reflexes and quick feet. Bryant’s Achilles heel on defense is stiffness on routine plays. Being uncomfortable, he forced errors on balls most handle easily. During infield pregame, Bryant fielded much of these chances left of center. Hopefully, proper technique in repetition will carry into game action.
Make no mistake, hitting is Bryant’s key to success at the MLB level. In a three day look, the right-handed hitter barreled every fastball he made contact with. With full extension at the point of contact, he pounded balls to all fields. Bryant’s swing path is fluid and rhythmic, projecting for easy power.
However, Bryant fails to read and stay back on off-speed pitches. On change-ups, Bryant was so far out front. Either he swung-and-missed badly, or bounced balls foul towards the third base dugout. Sliders were a challenge too as he swung through them repeatedly. Strikeouts are a concern with the young power hitter, and he did little to alleviate them. But, Bryant rarely chased pitches, showing patience and a strong knowledge of the strike zone.
In batting practice, Bryant’s power was underwhelming as he went through the motions. At the upper levels, hitters don’t let loose in BP like Single-A hitters do. His in-game power was extraordinary though. Against Dodgers prospect Andres Santiago, Bryant launched a fly ball to right center field. The ball cleared the home run wall, train tracks (think Houston but in a Double-A ballpark), a second wall and a tree standing on a hill before leaving the stadium for a home run. The tremendous show of power hushed the near-sellout crowd. Not since scouting Giancarlo Stanton has their been such an explosive hip rotation on a home run. In a Wrigley summer, Bryant will do damage.
Kris Bryant is the rare top prospect who matches the hype. He will flirt with 40 home run power, albeit with high strikeout totals. With his level of patience, walks will offset so-so batting averages, resulting in a strong on base percentage. Whether third base or right field, Kris Bryant will pair with Javier Baez to form a young core capable of ending the Cubs’ curse.
TOOL PRESENT FUTURE PROJECTED ROLE ALL-STAR CALIBER THIRD BASEMAN OR RIGHT FIELDER Hitting Ability 45 50 Power 65 75 Speed 55 45 Fielding Ability 45 55 Arm 60 60
Owning Kris Bryant
Owning Bryant will leave fantasy owners the envy of league mates. He’ll hit for power, bat in the .270’s and steal double digit bases as a Dynasty cornerstone. Be excited about his future, as players with Bryant’s profile have gained considerable value in recent years. With power becoming more valuable, players like Evan Longoria who were overpriced are now premium assets. Kris Bryant will debut at a time when his skill set is at a premium.
5 May 2014 / Chris Blessing / 2
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