- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Every time top Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant hits a home run, proud papa Mike Bryant beams back home in Las Vegas.

When Texas Rangers top prospect Joey Gallo goes yard with his powerful swing, Bryant gets a charge out of that, too.

Bryant doubled down, all right. He taught his son and Gallo how to hit when they were kids, passing along the lessons he learned from Ted Williams during the two spring trainings he was a Boston Red Sox farmhand in the early 1980s.

Now Bryant and Gallo are staging a home run derby as they make the climb to the major leagues.

Kris Bryant, 22, hit his 39th homer Tuesday night. He’s hit 17 with Triple-A Iowa following his promotion from Double-A Tennessee, where he hit 22. Bryant’s 31 homers as a junior at the University of San Diego in 2013 were the most in a season since toned-down composite bats replaced aluminum bats in 2011.

Gallo, 20, has hit 38 this season, 17 with Double-A Frisco after hitting 21 with Class A Myrtle Beach. He led the minors in homers with 40 last season as a 19-year-old.

“When you’ve got two guys, two baseball families that grew up together, the kids hung out together, and then I see this culminating and they’re on a parallel path to the major leagues, it’s humbling because everyone knows I taught Joey and Kris,” Mike Bryant said in a phone interview. “Up until this point I was just another instructor for them.”

Bryant began working with Kris every day starting when he was 5. Gallo became a pupil after his father, Tony, also a former minor leaguer, and Mike Bryant began coaching a travel team together.

There has always been a batting cage at the Bryant house.

“It was outdoors then. It’s indoors now,” Mike Bryant said.

The “mancage,” as Mike Bryant calls it, is a perk of the $6.7 million bonus Kris Bryant received as the second pick overall in the 2013 amateur draft after his standout career at USD. Kris wanted a nice place to work out in the offseason, and it gives his dad a sweet place to give hitting lessons when he’s not working as a sales rep for a chemical company. And with the way Bryant and Gallo are hitting, business is picking up for Mike Bryant.

“I’m pretty proud of it, that I’ve been able to be a part of both of their lives and both will play in the major leagues,” Mike Bryant said. “To put that on my resume, it’s quite an accomplishment. Again, they’re swinging the bats, not me.”

Bryant and Gallo are both 6-foot-5 third basemen. The similarities end there.

Bryant is a right-hander with a smooth swing. He went to college and won the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser awards in 2013.

Gallo is a lefty with what Mike Bryant calls a violent swing. He passed up a chance to play at LSU, going from Bishop Gorman High to pro ball after being picked by the Rangers with a first-round compensatory pick, No. 39 overall, in 2012.

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