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Twins MLB Draft Profile: Kris Bryant, 3B/1B

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ID:	4255Who IS This Guy?

The legend of the power of six-foot-five, 215-pound Kris Bryant has increased rapidly over his career at the University of San Diego, reaching He-Man-esque proportions in his senior year after he launched 30 bombs.

It was not just the volume that drew scouts’ attention; it was the distance that helped him ascended up teams’ draft boards. Reportedly, the corner infielder hit a blast that was estimated over 500 feet when it cleared an 80-foot tall light tower at his university’s home stadium. Some suggest those estimates were low. No matter, the 21-year-old Bryant has smacked 54 dingers in his three-year collegiate career and has mashed his way into one of the top draft choices in the nation.

Who Could He Be?

An offensive monster, that’s for sure.

The right-handed hitting Bryant employs a wide base, a stance that seems to have developed in his more recent collegiate years. He has a minimal swing, keeping his head and lower half still during his weight transfer but creates a substantial amount of torque with his hips and a strong front side.
Bryant’s swing was constructed, he said, by his father, a former Boston Red Sox draftee. Citing Ted Williams’ method from his book, The Science of Hitting, Bryant incorporated the upward swing to counter the downward flight of the ball, attempting to achieve a more flush point of contact. The slight uppercut swing – along with a minimalist weight transfer and extremely well-leveraged front side – has created a ton of big fly balls for the University of San Diego infielder. This year, he has jacked 30 in the regular season – a USD school record in addition to the NCAA Division I leader. In fact, the next closest total to Bryant’s was 19. Bryant’s home run power is not a mess created by the TING! of the aluminum bat either. College baseball has switched to composite bats which has muted some of the speed at impact – not nearly as much as a wood bat but the change has certainly has quelled the home run totals as of late.

Judging from his big bop potential, it is not surprising that he had an abundance of walks. The 57 he drew were tied for the NCAA lead in that category as well. Most of those were not necessarily a product of patience but simply that teams refused to pitch to him. Seeing a pitch in the strike zone was such an infrequently occurrence through the first 33 games of the season, that the Rich Hill, USD’s manager, moved him to the lead-off spot in order to get a few more pitches to hit.

That said, Bryant’s plate coverage is also supposed to be thing of beauty. According to an LA Times story, during Bryant’s freshman year, the University of San Francisco’s coach ordered his pitcher to throw out of the zone to the San Diego slugger. After a majestic home run, the coach scolded his pitcher on throwing the ball over the plate. San Francisco’s catcher came to his pitcher’s defense, saying the pitch was at least two-and-a-half balls off of the plate.

How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?

As a college draftee, Bryant is expected to move up the ranks quickly. You could easily envision him tearing apart Appalachian League pitching so his starting point following the draft is likely at A ball – either Cedar Rapids or Fort Myers. The downside to his development will be the switch to wood bats and facing tougher competition. While with USD, teams did not challenge him, which led to a high number of walks. In the minors, he’ll start seeing hard-throwing, big-bending and precision-guided pitching as he moves up the ladder.

If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up Because…

The list is short: He’s not a pitcher. And the Twins need more top-tiered pitching. Outside of that, there is not much else that would constitute a good reason for not selecting Bryant at number four.

Additionally, massive power in college does not necessarily translate to massive major league success. Look at former collegiate slugger Pete Incaviglia. Inky hit 49 home runs in 75 games with Oklahoma State in 1985, setting the college record for home runs in a single season. While he displayed 25-30 home runs power for the Rangers in the mid-to-late 1980s, his inability to make consistent contact led to his move to a role-player position. Bryant obviously has more tools than Incaviglia, including speed and defensive prowess, but there is always the chance his hitting never translates.

If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It Because…

Bryant is not supposed to be around at the fourth pick. The consensus among the draft experts is that he will be off-the-board by the third pick. If, for some divine reason, the three teams ahead of the Twins (Astros, Cubs and Rockies) decide to go another direction, the organization should be thankful to have a talent like Bryant entire the system. Miguel Sano may be the third baseman for the foreseeable future, but Bryant is skilled enough – and definitely has the power stroke for -- to a move to a corner outfield position.

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