At long last, Chicago Cubs fans finally have a cause for optimism: Kris Bryant is officially in the pipeline.
As arguably the best player available in this year's MLB draft, Bryant was considered to be in contention to go No. 1, but after the Astros took pitcher Mark Appel with the top pick, the Cubs happily snatched up the talented third baseman at No. 2.
Coming off a pair of All-American selections in his first two years at the University of San Diego, Bryant is undoubtedly the most promising offensive prospect in this year's prospect pool and finished his junior season with a very impressive .329 average.
No, Bryant may not address the Cubs' pressing need for quality pitching, but as Jason McLeod, the Cubs' director of scouting and player development told The Chicago Sun-Times, the potential he offered as a prospect was simply too enticing to pass up, even with Oklahoma's highly touted Jonathan Gray still on the board.
“I think the simplistic answer is we felt the best player for the Cubs long term, looking at those two players, was Kris Bryant. We talked a lot about the history of the draft and position player vs. pitcher and those kinds of things.”
In Bryant, the Cubs saw a potential franchise slugger on the table, and given how well he's progressed during his three years with the Toreros, it looks like he fits the bill.
This season, Bryant was San Diego's best offensive threat by a country mile, belting 31 of his team's 64 total home runs on the season, up from 14 as a sophomore, and has set numerous school records along the way.
Bryant packs a lot of punch from the plate and exhibits an encouraging degree of discipline in the batter's box, but that's not all the lanky Las Vegas native offers, as his speed and arm strength were drawing rave reviews from scouts leading up to the draft.
In fact, according to CBS Sports' Scott Miller, some scouts were already projecting Bryant to develop into a slugger in the mold of four-time All-Star Troy Glaus.
“If I was going to compare him to somebody, he's like a more athletic Troy Glaus,” one scout who watched -- and liked -- Bryant this season says. “Troy could really throw. Bryant can really throw. I think he'll be able to stay at third base. If not, he can play right field.
“He's got huge power. He's a pretty good runner once he's under way. And he hit more home runs than a lot of teams did.”
Glaus, who twice eclipsed 40-home runs with Anaheim, didn't boast the same level of speed that Bryant does, but the comparison is a favorable one from a hitting standpoint.
And for the Cubs, who are well on their way to a fifth consecutive losing season, that kind of elite offense was something too desirable to pass on, especially given that only Miami and Houston scored fewer runs than Chicago in 2012.
Bryant may not make his MLB debut for a little while, but once he does, he's got the potential to blossom into the Cubs' most dangerous offensive weapon since Sammy Sosa's prime in the late 1990s.
For now, at the very least, Bryant represents a reason to believe that better days are on the way for the Cubs' long-suffering franchise.