USD Magazine Fall 2013

undeniable, and so was Kris’ impressive work ethic. Mike remembers having to practically beg his son to take time off from hitting drills to join the family for dinner, and the sweltering desert heat seemed to only invigorate the aspiring slugger. “It gets really warm out here (in Las Vegas), but that never slowed him down,” Mike says. “He loves the game and has an uncommon gift as a hitter, which is pretty clear to anyone who watches him swing a bat.” Rumors of a teenage wunderkind lighting up high school pitching across Nevada filtered back to Hill and his staff, and the decision was made to head to the desert and see what all the hype was about. They weren’t disappointed. Bryant

Kramer’s data also suggests that if Bryant’s 62-game schedule in 2013 had been increased to 75, he would’ve hit an astonishing

68 round-trippers. Heady stuff to be sure, but the only numbers Bryant seems overly concerned about are located in the win-loss column.

had all the tools to be a superstar, but it remained to be seen if the youngster could hold up against top-tier college pitching, and how he would adjust to life away from home. Check and check. “Kris acclimated to our program in no time flat,” Hill says. “He really works at his craft.”

“It’s been an amazing year, no doubt about it,” Bryant says. “When we lost to UCLA (in the NCAA regionals), I was really disappointed, because I thought we could make a lot of noise in the postseason. “We have such a great group of guys, and everyone plays the game like we’re just kids having fun. That’s what it’s all about to me. It’s still the same game as it was back then.”

rom the time he was a 5-year-old trailing his big brother to little league practices in their hometown of Las Vegas, Bryant has made a habit of hitting baseballs harder and


farther than players twice his age. Kris’ father Mike Bryant, a former minor league baseball player in the Boston Red Sox organization, fondly recalls the moment when he realized that his youngest son had skills that couldn’t be taught.

He also hit the ground running in the class- room, and the finance major finished his junior year with a 3.35 grade-point average, which should come in handy given the vast amount of zeros the Cubs included in his lucrative $6.7 million contract. “I’m so excited to be where I am now, but I owe so much to my coaches and my teammates at USD,” Bryant says. “I’ll always look back on my three years there as one of the best experiences of my life.” ryant isn’t the only Torero with the opportunity to prove his skills at the next level. All told, eight members of the 2013 squad were either drafted or signed as undrafted free agents with major league organizations. It’s an impressive total, and indicative of the level of talent USD is fielding on a yearly basis. “I’d stack our program up against any team in the country over the last five years in terms of players drafted,” Hill says. “USD baseball is in a really good place right now, and thanks to guys like Kris, A.J. Griffin and Brian Matusz, we’re earning the reputation of a program that gets players to the big leagues.” B

“I took Kris with me to one of his brother Nick’s baseball practices at a local elementary school,” he says. “At the end of the practice, we set aside time for some of the younger kids to hit. I threw Kris a couple of overhand pitches, and it was like, BOOM! The ball was flying all over the field. Peoples’ jaws just dropped, and mine was one of them.” A batting cage was quickly erected in the Bryant family’s back- yard, and rarely a day went by when Kris couldn’t be found swinging at pitches on a tee, or getting in a little batting practice with dad when he returned from work in the evenings. The talent was

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