FSL notes: Cubs' Bryant takes reins

No. 2 overall pick making strong first impression in Daytona

Kris Bryant hit .360 with three homers in his first seven FSL games. (Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MiLB.com | August 21, 2013 6:00 AM ET

When Jorge Soler suffered a stress fracture in his leg and Javier Baez was promoted to Double-A, it looked like the Daytona Cubs had lost their prospect star power for the season.

That hardly turned out to be the case, though.

Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the 2013 Draft, arrived in Daytona a little over a week ago and has made the best first impression of any of the Chicago Cubs' hopes for the future.

Bryant homered in his debut Aug. 13 and hasn't stop hitting, following up his Player of the Week award in the short-season Northwest League by taking the same honor in the Class A Advanced Florida State League.

Through his first seven games with Daytona, the 6-foot-5 third baseman was hitting .360 with three homers and five RBIs. His OPS was 1.148 thanks to a .385 on-base percentage and staggering .760 slugging mark.

"It's been a lot of fun so far," said Bryant, ranked No. 39 among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects. "We're in first place and I felt welcomed right away. The fans in Daytona are great. It's been exciting."

Of course, Bryant has given crowds at historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark plenty to cheer about in a short time. Six of Bryant's first seven games were at home, and he took advantage of one of the league's few hitter-friendly ballparks for each of his home runs.

"The other hitters tell me I'm lucky to be a Daytona Cub," said Bryant, although there was no doubt about any of his blasts.

Bryant crushed 31 homers for the University of San Diego this season while winning the Golden Spikes Award and had seven blasts in his first 96 at-bats in the Minor Leagues. Four of his professional homers came for Boise, where he hit .354 with an OPS of 1.108 in 18 games to earn the quick advancement to Daytona.

With the promotion came tougher competition but shorter bus trips.

"I missed the 15-hour trip to Canada, but I had a couple eight-hour trips," Bryant said. "It will be nice to just have short trips here."

Bryant grew up in Las Vegas and went to a few Triple-A games, but he's getting a crash course in what it's really like in the Minors.

In that regard, he got some words of advice from his father, Steve, who played two seasons, including one in the Florida State League, after being taken in the ninth-round of the 1980 Draft by the Boston Red Sox.

"He's tried to help me avoid some of the potholes he stepped in," the 21-year-old said.

Of course, the elder Bryant didn't receive a bonus of $6.7 million or the same pressure, and the Minor League lifestyle his son is experiencing is much different.

After a few days in a hotel, Bryant moved into a condo with three Daytona pitchers -- Zach Cates, Jeff Lorick and Austin Reed.

"It's right on the beach," Bryant said. "You can't get better than that."

He won't be spending much time in the surf, though.

Bryant is noted for his work ethic. He'd like to get to Chicago as soon as possible, and he still wants to be a third baseman when he does.

"I work just as hard on my fielding as my hitting," he said. "I strive to be the best at both."

But the acquisition of Mike Olt by the Chicago Cubs from the Texas Rangers in the Matt Garza trade left third a crowded position. Bryant, who could move to right field, is ranked as the second-best third base prospect by MLB.com, and the more experienced Olt is third.

"Competition is always good," Bryant said. "It's a good problem for the Cubs to have."

The pipeline to Chicago has been replenished, and Daytona is an example of that even without Baez and Soler, ranked No. 10 and No. 29 in the MLB.com Top 100.

The Daytona roster includes three of Chicago's top dozen prospects in addition to Bryant, with pitcher Pierce Johnson at No. 7, first baseman Dan Vogelbach at No. 11 and pitcher C.J. Edwards at No. 12.

"This is a great group of players and hopefully we can move up together," Bryant said. "I think everyone is excited about being part of the future with the Cubs."

In brief

Red-hot hitter: Fort Myers center fielder Byron Buxton lived up to his No. 1 ranking among MLB.com's Top 100 prospects during an 11-game hitting streak that he took into Tuesday. The 19-year-old was 19-for-45 (.422) during the stretch to raise his average with the Miracle from .278 to .314. Included in the streak were consecutive three-hit games and four two-hit outings. Buxton, the second overall pick in 2012 by the Twins, had a .389/.474/.863 slash line in 43 games for Fort Myers after going .431/.559/.990 in 68 games with Cedar Rapids of the Class A Midwest League.

Almost perfect: Jupiter right-hander Nick Wittgren leads the Florida State League with 23 saves and has a 0.86 ERA while recording 57 strikeouts to nine walks in 52 1/3 innings over 46 games. He hasn't allowed a run in his past 10 appearances and hasn't issued a walk over seven August games, allowing four hits in seven innings and going 1-0 with three saves this month. Wittgren, 22, was a ninth-round pick in 2012 by the Marlins out of Purdue University.

Tough switch: Bradenton first baseman Stetson Allie homered in back-to-back games, but he was hitting just .229 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 52 contests after being promoted from Class A West Virginia. A second-round pick of the Pirates in 2010 as a pitcher, Allie is in the second year of his conversion and hit .324 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs in 66 games in the more hitter-friendly South Atlantic League before joining Bradenton. Allie, 22, was hitting just .178 in 13 games during August.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More