Chicago Cubs: Zach Bryant, RP, Eugene Emeralds
The next man up is a guy who the team selected in the 15th round of this year’s draft. Zach Bryant is a 21-year-old reliever out of Jacksonville University. Before that, Bryant spent two seasons at Daytona Beach Community College.
In his first year at Daytona Beach, Bryant posted a 3.98 ERA in 24 games. He minimized his home runs; however, he registered a 5.40 BB/9 rate with a 1.58 WHIP. His second season was better in some regards. However, Bryant saw a jump in his ERA. Positively, the walk rate lowered while the strikeout rate stayed steady.
Bryant’s one season at Jacksonville was a ride. His ERA improved once again, and the strikeout rate jumped up to 12.77 K/9. Regarding Bryant’s WHIP, it improved for a third straight season. It was good enough to get a look from the Cubs in the late rounds, and so far it has been great for the young reliever.
Beginning his first professional season in the Rookie league, Bryant pitched eight innings and excelled. He posted a 1.13 ERA with a 3.02 FIP and 3.53 xFIP. The strikeout rate was excellent at 34.4 percent, and Bryant held opposing hitters to a .143 batting average.
Receiving a promotion to Eugene, Bryant continued to do well. His strikeout rate dropped, however, so did his walk rate. Bryant carried a 1.35 ERA with a stable 3.05 FIP and 3.59 xFIP. Part of Bryant’s strength has been his ground ball rate. In his short time for the Emeralds, Bryant registered a 56.8 percent rate.
To add to his performance, Bryant has yet to allow a home run. It will be a few years before the young reliever can make a difference for the big league club, but if he continues to dominate and find his footing, he can be an impact arm down the line.