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November 21, 2014

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All eyes on Bonanza slugger Kris Bryant, a likely first-round draft pick

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Steve Marcus

Bonanza High School baseball player Kris Bryant tosses his bat during practice at the school Tuesday, March 2, 2010.

Kris Bryant

Bonanza High School baseball player Kris Bryant throws the ball during practice at the school Tuesday, March 2, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Bonanza High senior Kris Bryant has more mail delivered to the West Las Vegas school than most teachers.

Then again, the teachers aren't star baseball players who are expected to be drafted in the first round of June's First-Year Player Draft.

Bryant, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound slugging infielder who hit home runs in six straight games as a sophomore and has a full scholarship to the University of San Diego, has received roughly 20 requests for his autographs in the mail.

One request came from someone in Oconomowoc, Wisc., who asked Bryant to return his autograph on a game-used batting glove. Others include items they would like signed.

Bryant, who has 103 hits and a .958 career slugging percentage in three years on the varsity team, doesn't mind the requests. He finds it flattering that someone who lives thousands of miles away is interested in his career.

"It's way cool to know someone or some kid out there is looking up to me," Bryant said.

When Bonanza opens its season Saturday against Silverado, the first name coach Derek Stafford will write on the lineup card is Bryant's.

After all, he has been a mainstay on the Bengals' infield since he played for their American Legion affiliate during the summer before he entered high school. Bryant plays shortstop for Bonanza and is being scouted as a corner infielder.

"If I coach another 30 years, I won't get a kid like this again," Stafford said. "He's a once-in-a-generation type of talent. I'm going to try to enjoy myself coaching him."

The streak of home runs when Bryant was just a 15-year-old sophomore was just the beginning.

His numbers — a career .418 average with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs — includes 14 home runs, 37 RBIs, 10 doubles and eight triples last spring.

Those numbers are even more staggering when you consider Bryant rarely gets a pitch to hit and is credited with having strong plate discipline. If the pitch isn't in the strike zone, Bryant has no problems settling for a walk.

"My dad (a former Boston Red Sox minor leaguer) has been my hitting coach since I was 5," Bryant said. "He's taught me the value of being patient. I trust my teammates behind me."

Several draft projections list Bryant as a first-round selection. A mock draft on Mymlbdraft.com has Bryant picked No. 17 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays

Stafford's phone constantly rings with scouts asking for information. He said the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles have shown the most interest.

The coach tells everyone willing to listen that his star player is more than a talented athlete. Bryant is humble, a good team player and effortless worker, Stafford says.

"He's not treated any differently than any other player out here," Stafford said. "And the nice thing about Kris is that he doesn't want to be treated differently."

Bryant calls playing professional baseball a lifelong dream. However, the alternative isn't a bad option.

Bryant is in line to be Bonanza's salutatorian and speaks with eager anticipation of attending college. And San Diego's baseball program consistently is one of the nation's best.

"I'm always open to new opportunities and going to San Diego is one of them," Bryant said. "I take pride in my school work. I like going to school."

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