Happy birthday to Cubs uber-prospect and great homer hope, Kris Bryant
The Big Bang filled a world of darkness with the universe. And the second big bang, otherwise known as Cubs prospect Kris Bryant, filled this universe with a bunch of home runs.
Born on Jan. 4, 1992, some witnesses claim that Bryant emerged fully formed -- standing 6-foot-5 with rock-hard glistening muscles and a swing so smooth it can put insomniacs to sleep. Some even say he promised the nurses that he'd smack a few dingers for them in 20 years' time.
And smack dingers he would. Before becoming a legal adult, Bryant was high school slugger who was already drawing big league attention for his power. After being drafted by the Blue Jays in the 18th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Bryant chose instead to continue his book learnin' (because of course he was his school's salutatorian ... before giving it up to a girl who really wanted the honor) and took his swing to the University of San Diego.
While in college, Bryant would be named Freshman All-American, first team All-American and, in his junior season, he set the record for most NCAA home runs since the shift to using composite bats.
Of course, the amateur ranks are filled with wonderful athletes who either because of genetics, willpower, or the cruel hand of fate, fail to impress once turning pro. (This is called "Glory Days-ing.") But Bryant wouldn't succumb to that. He would fulfill the prophecy of his birth.
After being selected 2nd overall by the Cubs in the 2013 Draft, Bryant managed to knock out nine home runs with a .336/.390/.688 batting line in only 36 games. Of course, he also did this across three different levels. That included his first professional home run. Known for his patient batting eye, even back in high school, Bryant worked a 3-0 count before crushing a ball to left-center:
Bryant was somehow even better in 2014. Splitting his time between Double- and Triple-A, Bryant crushed 43 home runs, the most in all the Minors, with a .325/.438/.661 line. Fans in Knoxville, home of the Tennessee Smokies, and Des Moines, where the Iowa Cubs play, had a chance to watch Bryant perform Herculean feats every night. Feats like:
And the "Popup, no wait-a-second, home run."
While there are no guarantees that the 23-year-old will join the Cubs out of Spring Training (though he does have the shoes already), fans in Wrigley's outfield bleachers should expect to be pelted with a hail-like barrage of home runs thanks to the Cubs' loaded coffers of young sluggers like Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler. Bring a glove. Or an umbrella.