Since the Cubs lost Masahiro Tanaka to the Yankees yesterday, I opted to step it up today.
Kris Bryant, third base/outfield, 6-5, 215
Drafted in the first round (second overall pick) in the 2013 draft
Probable landing spot in 2014; Double-A Tennessee
About a week before the draft, a few of us were discussing off-board how much to cover Bryant for the draft day discussion. There was a thought that even including him may be wasted ink.
Kris Bryant and Jonathan Gray taught me something about the draft last year. If you put up video game numbers long enough, scouts will bump you to the top of the draft.
Bryant outhomered well over two-thirds of the teams in college ball last season. His power hasn't been in question since high school. Though he will strike out too much, he will also draw walks. Especially if he is a more feared hitter than the hitter behind him. There are two main concerns with Bryant. Will he hit for any sort of average? Will he be able to hack third base?
I was very leery watching him defensively at third in college. His conference tournament was getting streamed online, and I saw the types of plays I needed to see. He ranged both ways laterally (hole-side and line-side) with solid throws following them. He also charged a squibber rather well. Will that mean he is a third baseman of the future? I tell you what.
This spring, many of us will listen to Cubs spring training games on our computers. In many of those instances, Mick Gillispie will help broadcast the games. He will be calling the Double-A Tennessee Smokies games this year. That is where Kris Bryant ought to play starting in April. If the Cubs are playing too listlessly for you some April evening, flip over to smokiesbaseball.com.
Mick and crew will fill you in with the live details of the Smokies game that night. Not only will you learn how Bryant is doing (with the glove and the bat), but also you'll have more information than you had on some upcoming pitchers. Dan Vogelbach might be there, as well.
I'd say nobody would give you grief on-line for listening to the Smokies (or DCubs, or Cougars, etc...), but we know that isn't true. In reality, you can pretty much glean all the info you really need on a Cubs loss as you need from the screen or BCB. (Or, if you have more than one site you rely on, whatever works for you.) However, if you really want to know about how Kris Bryant is doing, the Smokies schedule is available by a link from the above site. Gillispie is among a group of solid announcers in the pipeline, from Boise to Iowa.
Listening to an inning when Bryant is due to hit might cost you the opportunity to hear the big-league Cubs go down "one-two-three" or strand a couple runners in scoring position in a scoreless frame. Or, they might scratch a few runs across. You can even mute the TV audio, and listen to MiLB audio for free.
Theo Epstein supposedly told a wins-starved fan complaining about ticket prices "I don't tell you what to do with your money" at the Cubs Convention. I won't tell you to turn off the Cubs. However, if you want questions answered on Bryant, Almora, Baez, Soler, or any of the pitchers, the best way to come up with your own opinion is to do what I started doing with opera shortly after I switched to satellite.
I flipped the switch to the Met Opera channel. Then turned it away a few minutes later. Then I did it again a few days later. Not much difference. After awhile, after I had some familiarity with the genre, after some of it became familiar, it became a main pre-set.
You can rely on those of us commenting on Josh's daily updates. Prospect-niks are all over the web. You can form your opinions based on us, or anyone anywhere else. However, if knowledge of Bryant's offense or defense is really important to you, take in a couple innings per night. The Smokies crew will keep you informed and entertained, you will add to your knowledge base, and as long as you keep reading BCB threads or watching the game, you'll miss almost nothing.
Except, of course, that No. 18 isn't Tanaka.