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2016 Cubs Spring Training Countdown: 17 Days

What, you were expecting Mike Fontenot?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Some of you might not remember this, but on draft day, June 6, 2013, there were some here hoping the Astros would pass on Mark Appel so the Cubs could pick him with the No. 2 overall pick. Or, after Houston did take Appel, that the Cubs would select Jon Gray.

Fortunately, I think we'd all agree now that the Cubs made the right selection in Kris Bryant, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year. In fact, including supplemental picks, there are only six players from that 2013 first round who have played in the big leagues at all so far: Bryant, Gray, Marco Gonzales, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Michael Lorenzen and Corey Knebel.

Breaking down Bryant's rookie year is interesting. It took him 18 games to hit his first home run, and he slumped badly in July. On August 1 he was hitting .244/.352/.436, and then he went on a tear, hitting .326/.398/.572 from August 2 through season's end, with 12 home runs in 57 games. If he can keep up that pace, we're looking at a possible 35-homer season from Bryant this year.

Yes, he struck out a lot, 199 times, leading the league and setting a franchise record. But the power and the walks (77) made up for that.

He also played solid defense, and even played passably at all three outfield positions, though with Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez expected to be multi-position guys this year, Bryant will probably do less of that in 2016.

The league will likely adjust to him. It's up to Bryant to make his own adjustments to continue to succeed. I think he'll do that.

And I hope before the 2017 season begins, the Cubs lock him up long-term, buying out his arb years and maybe the first couple of years of free agency, as they did with Anthony Rizzo.

I still see a lot of No. 17 jerseys around Wrigley Field with Mark Grace's name on them, but there are more with Bryant's. Maybe someday Bryant's name and "17" will adorn a retired-number flag on a Wrigley flagpole.