BOISE — Each day brings Kris Bryant closer to the dream hes held since he was 5.
Thats when his dad, a former minor-leaguer, installed a batting cage in the backyard of their Las Vegas home and threw his son the first of perhaps a million pitches.
Each day brings Bryant, the No. 2 overall pick in Junes draft by the Chicago Cubs, closer to the major leagues.
The goal is to get there and stay there, Bryant said.
And that means Boise is just a pit stop, one that is very nearly over for Bryant. If you want to see the slugging third baseman a good bet to finally end the Cubs misery at the hot corner youd better hurry to Memorial Stadium.
Like today. Seriously.
Sundays doubleheader might be the last time Bryant dons the Hawks City of Trees green, deep brick red, sunshine orange and muted yellow cornsilk. Yes, those are the official names for the Hawks colors.
Bryant, who went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in his Hawks debut, is now batting .310 with four home runs in 16 games. He went 1-for-4 with a double in the Hawks' 9-2 victory on Saturday night against Vancouver, extending his hit streak to 13 games. Bryant had a game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night.
The Hawks coaching staff has worked on his defense, but left his swing alone. The next step or destination, he insists, is not something he thinks about.
Thats not my job. My job is to play baseball, Bryant said. The guys in charge will take care of that.
The guys in charge want Bryant to get at least a taste of better competition this year. He was, after all, the college player of the year at San Diego, where he slugged an NCAA-best 31 home runs.
At 21, Bryant the No. 4 prospect in the Cubs system, according to the teams website is six months older than Baltimore Orioles All-Star Manny Machado and nine months older than Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper.
Theyre the top percentile, said Bryant, a finance major at San Diego.
There is no pressure on Bryant to match those players. But as a polished college player, the expectation is that he can move through the system. Bryant is expected to go to advanced Class A Daytona Beach, skipping over Kane County.
The skys the limit, Hawks manager Gary Van Tol said. Theres no rush and no pressure that were putting on him other than to get some playing time and get the reps and get the at-bats.
The pressure of those lofty expectations, of the $6.7 million signing bonus, of being a part of the club that finally ends the Cubs comically long World Series drought, none of it weighs on Bryant.
He looks like hes having the time of his life, doing exactly what he wants and loving every minute of it.
Baseballs a kids game. Its baseball. Youre supposed to have fun, said Bryant, who in his short time in Boise has ridden go-karts and played mini-golf. ... We get to play baseball every day. Thats a goal of mine. I want to play baseball every day for the rest of my life.
Soon hell be doing it in a different home ballpark and wearing a different uniform. Maybe some day, likely sooner than later, the ballpark will be Wrigley Field and the uniform will have a red C inside a blue circle see, theres nothing wrong with basic color names and the opponents will include Machado and Harper.
Boise will be a memory, a place where he started his career, where he hit his first homer. Catch a glimpse soon, because Kris Bryants time in Boise is just about done.
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Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @MurphsTurph