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Rockie road less taken: Cubs’ Kris Bryant vs. Jon Gray and what might have been

Before 96 home runs, two All-Star selections and one enormous, diamond-encrusted ring, Kris Bryant knew only one thing about his impending professional career.

‘‘I honestly thought I was going to be [a Colorado Rockie],” Bryant said. “Just because before the [2013] draft, everybody was talking and doing their research, and everybody was saying the Cubs are going to pick a pitcher because that’s what they needed at the time. And then they picked me, and it seemed like almost a letdown for some of the fans.”

The fans’ opinions changed quickly as the No. 2 overall pick reached the majors in 2015  on his way to being named rookie of the year.

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Bryant doubles at Coors Field on April 20.

The Cubs did need pitching, and there was much internal debate whether Bryant should be picked instead of either of the top two pitchers in that draft, Stanford’s Mark Appel and Oklahoma’s Jon Gray.

The Cubs said Appel was at the top of their board, but the Astros took him with the No. 1 pick. The Cubs took Bryant, leaving the Rockies with Gray at No. 3.

Appel already is out of baseball.

Gray will pitch for the Rockies on Tuesday, just 11 days after he took the loss in the Cubs’ 16-5 win at Coors Field. Bryant had a walk, strikeout and groundout against Gray, who was making his first start against the Cubs.

“He’s doing pretty well for himself,” Bryant said. “He throws hard with good stuff, and he’s young just like I am. I think both teams won in that draft.”

Bryant won an MVP award and helped win a World Series in 2016. The jury is still out on Gray.

Bryant will be keeping tabs on Gray, along with Aaron Judge, who was drafted 32nd that year.

“Certainly, I do take a sense of pride into how I conduct myself and how I perform on the field,” Bryant said. “I always want to be better than the people I was drafted with. But he’s a stud, too. A lot of people in that draft were studs, and it’s been cool to follow a lot of their careers so far.”

As cool as those daydreams of hitting at Coors Field 81 times a year?

“What a fun place it is to hit,” said Bryant, who talked about that with his dad before the draft. They also talked about what it would be like to play at historic Wrigley Field.

“It really was a win-win,” he said.