CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant, like many before him, hopes he can help the Chicago Cubs become a winner.
The Cubs finalized their agreement Friday with the third baseman, the No. 2 overall pick in last month's amateur draft.
"This is a dream of mine and I am very happy to be a Cub," Bryant said. "Hopefully, I can play this game for a long time. I am excited to get my journey started."
Bryant will receive a signing bonus of $6,708,400, the slot value for the selection and the highest amount in the two years since spending restraints began under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
The deal was announced Friday, a few hours before the deadline for draft picks to sign, other than players who have exhausted their college baseball eligibility.
The 21-year-old Bryant, who played at the University of San Diego, was introduced at a morning news conference and then took part in infield and batting practice. He sent a few pitches into the left-field stands.
"He's got some impressive leverage in his swing, to hit the ball that far and that high," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Especially with a little breeze blowing in here, we know it's not that easy to hit the ball that far."
Bryant's first stop will be Chicago's minor league headquarters in Mesa, Ariz.
"That is very exciting," Bryant said. "I saw that (Cubs prospect Javier) Baez hit four home runs in a game. I haven't done that yet. Hopefully I can. All those guys are great players, I'd love to get to know them. I can't wait to meet them and play alongside of them. Hopefully, we'll be up here together and winning a World Series."
After he "knocks off the rust" in Mesa, Bryant's first club likely will be the Class A Boise (Idaho) Hawks in the short-season Northwest League. The next step up could be the Class-A Kane County Cougars, located about 40 miles west of Wrigley Field.
How fast does Bryant expect to move up in the organization?
"That's not in my hands," he said. "It's always been a dream of mine to play in the big leagues, but that's not in my hands, it's up to the guys in charge. All I know is I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can.
Bryant's deal topped the $6.35 million signing bonus pitcher Mark Appel received from Houston. Both contracts were negotiated by agent Scott Boras.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bryant led the nation in home runs (31) and runs (80) during his junior season. He hit .329 with a .820 slugging percentage, 13 doubles, three triples and 62 RBIs in 62 games. He walked 66 times and struck out 44 times in 302 at-bats.
"He handled what can be an intimidating day with a lot of poise," Cubs president Theo Epstein said. "It's a long journey to become a professional and he deserves a special day. Now it's the start of another journey to get where he wants to be."