CINCINNATI — From the eyes of a former scout, Cubs manager Joe Maddon believes Kris Bryant’s versatility that accompanies his power will put him in an elite class.
“It’s just that he’s so complete in his game,” Maddon said one day after Bryant hit three home runs and two doubles while playing third base, left and right field against the Reds.
“There are still other levels to arrive at with good health. He’s going to be among the best I’ve ever been associated with.”
Bryant’s cap already is headed to Cooperstown, N.Y., as he sent it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame after Monday’s record-setting game.
While Maddon lauded Bryant’s ability to hit, hit for power, run and throw at a high level, the manager believes the 6-foot-5 Bryant, 24, still has plenty of room to improve.
“It’s hard to get all that and to be that young where he’s going to get better,” Maddon said. “He’ll probably lose some speed as it moves it along. Maybe his base-running skills may diminish a bit, but the hitting will get better and the power will remain. His arm and defense will remain somewhat equal.”
Bryant hasn’t found it too difficult to shift his focus from offense to defense, even while playing multiple positions in the same game. He admitted he felt a bit nervous during the 2015 National League Wild Card game at Pittsburgh when he moved from left field to third base, and that it is difficult to shift mid-game from the outfield to the infield, where there is not as much time to react to batted balls.
“It’s extremely tough,” Bryant said. “But now that I’ve done it a couple times, I’m used to it and can learn a lot more from it.”
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