By Andrew Green
The Southern League announced today that Tennessee Smokies third baseman Kris Bryant has been named the league’s Hitter of the Week for the time period from May 26 through June 1, marking the second time the 22-year-old has been tabbed with the weekly honor by the circuit this season.
Baseball America’s eighth-best overall prospect in that seven-game span posted a .478 average (11-23), adding seven runs, two doubles, five homers, seven RBI and nine walks. In addition to pacing the circuit in batting average, home runs and bases on balls, the Nevada native also ranked first in on-base percentage (.625), slugging percentage (1.217), OPS (1.842), extra-base hits (seven) and total bases (28), in addition to tied for first in runs and hits. The on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging percentages also ranked as best among all Minor Leaguers in that time frame.
Through his first 55 games this season with the Smokies, Bryant paces the Southern League in nine different offensive categories, including all three Triple Crown statistics. Enter play today, the infielder is first in batting average (.348), home runs (18), RBI (49), runs scored (48), hits (70), on-base percentage (.452), slugging percentage (.692), total bases (139) and extra-base hits. Bryant also ranks in the top three in total bases (first), extra-base hits (tied for first), roundtrippers (third), RBI (third), slugging percentage (third) and on-base plus slugging (second).
The 22-year-old was selected by the Cubs as the number two overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of San Diego, and was tabbed as the eighth-best prospect overall by Baseball America before this year, in addition to the second-best Cubs farmhand behind former Smokies shortstop Javier Baez. Baez last week was named the Pacific Coast League’s Hitter of the Week for his efforts with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
Bryant’s honor marks the third time a Smokies player has been recognized by the Southern League this season with a weekly award, with Bryant also tabbed Hitter of the Week for the time period between May 5-11. Right-hander starter Corey Black was also named the league’s Pitcher of the Week for his efforts between April 21-27. In addition, Bryant is the first Smokies player to earn multiple weekly accolades from the Southern League since the 2010 campaign, when C Robinson Chirinos and RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx were both honored twice as Hitter and Pitcher of the Week respectively that year.