Kyle Larsen Could Be An Absolute Steal

Kyle Larsen, Staten Island's mammoth starting first baseman and cleanup hitter this season, was one of the nation's top college players heading into his junior season but inexplicably went undrafted both in his junior and senior seasons. The Yankees scooped him up as undrafted free agent after the draft and he could prove to be an absolute steal.

Kyle Larsen was originally drafted out of high school in the 14th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the New York Mets after being named to the First Team All King County Baseball Team in his junior and senior years of high school while playing at Eastlake High School in the suburban Seattle area. He opted to stay close to home and attend the University of Washington to play baseball for the Huskies.

"I was young and wanted to stay close to home and play in front of my family and friends at school", Larsen told PinstripesPlus.com. "I figured going to college was valuable and I'd get an education. I just figured it was the right decision and I'm glad I did it. I don't know if I'd still be playing if I didn't go to college."

Steadfast in his decision to go to college, Larsen immediately started garnering national attention after hitting .342 with 17 extra-base hits in 51 games for the Huskies as a freshman. Despite following it up with a sub-par sophomore campaign that saw him hit just .274 with 8 home runs, Kyle Larsen had risen the prospect rankings heading in his junior season, ranking among the nation's top 100 collegiate baseball players.

Larsen seemingly improved his stock even more after posting a .344 batting average and knocking 28 extra-base hits and driving in 55 runs in 60 games in his junior season. But yet, he went undrafted. Why?

"I've heard many different stories about it [about not being drafted]", said Larsen. "I have Scott Boras as my agent and I'm not sure if the communication process got crossed up or what, about money and stuff like that. I'm not sure what happened there and it was definitely disappointing not getting drafted last year and then again this year."

He hit just .273 with 8 home runs in his senior year at Washington, showing some inconsistency between his seasons, alternating great years with average seasons.

"I know it is weird and I wish I had an answer", marvels Larsen. "Those two down years I was just off my game. I was swinging at pitches I normally wouldn't swing at and I guess I was just trying to do too much."

Whether it was his inconsistent play from year to year or the negative stigmatism that comes with having Scott Boras as an agent, Larsen went undrafted again this past season. However, the talent and his overall game is undeniable. Disappointed in not hearing his name called two years in row come Draft Day, Larsen called the Yankees.

"The area scout [for the Yankees] kept telling me I was going to be drafted, no problem. They [the Yankees] were the first ones I called after the draft. Two hours after the draft was over I called him up and he was like, 'do you want to be a Yankee?', and I was like, yeah, yeah, great. So here I am."

Larsen and the Yankees agreed to terms the morning after day two of the 2005 MLB Draft and he officially signed with the Yankees a week later. Two weeks after not hearing his name selected among the thousands of draftees called, Larsen found himself not only playing for Staten Island, but batting cleanup and starting at first base for the Yankees on Opening Day in the NY-Penn League.

"I was just hoping to get a chance to play", said Larsen. "Being a free-agent, you don't expect much. Despite not being drafted, coming here and batting cleanup on Opening Day for this organization was a dream come true."

Named the Best Defensive First Baseman in the Pac-10 by Baseball America three years in a row, Larsen is a very adept defensive player despite his immense 6'4" and 240 lbs frame and he is the complete package at first base.

Larsen has made an immediate impression on his coaches. Staten Island Hitting Coach Rob Ducey liked what he saw in the early going. "His ability to play first base is better than what I expected for the big kid that he is", said Ducey.

"There's no question that he has definite, definite hitting ability. Whether he carries that on into the higher levels or not, I am not sure yet. He's a very intelligent young man and he has a pretty good idea at the plate as to what he wants to do."

Kyle Larsen has modeled his game after a former Yankee and Met first baseman.

"I've always tried to model my game after John Olerud. I've always been a solid hitter. I've flirted with .400 a few times in my life and I just play solid defense. So he's one that I definitely would say I am like and that I model my game after."

His physical attributes leads many to believe he is a pure power hitter. Such is not the case with Larsen however. He truly is cut in the same mold as John Olerud.

"I just try to play solid defense all the time. Hitting-wise I just try to come in and drive in runs", Larsen told us. "I like to get on base a lot and hit for average. If home runs come, they come. I just try to go gap-to-gap and hit doubles. If home runs come, I'll take them. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I just try to hit the ball hard.

He is the model of patience at the plate, showing great selectivity at the plate, which is rare in a young ballplayer.

"Yeah, I try to [draw walks]. You've got to be able to get your pitches or you're not going to be able to hit. So I just go up there and look for something to hit hard."

Larsen has come up with big hits in his first week with the Staten Island Yankees. He is impressing everyone with his talent, but nobody more so than his manager, Andy Stankiewicz. "Here is a guy who went undrafted, which I am having a hard time figuring out", Stankiewicz told us after their home-opening victory over the Cyclones.

"He's a big kid', said Stankiewicz. "He's a strong kid. He looks like he can handle a bat pretty well and his swing looks pretty good. He stays inside the ball pretty well. He looks like he wants to use the whole field. There's really a lot of pluses there. I don't really know what happened in the draft but we're happy to have him here and he's fit in well. He looks like he plays a good little first base too. He looks like he has pretty good hands over there and he's going to get an opportunity to play. In the early going, he looks like he's going to make the most of it."

Drafted or not, Larsen has the talent to be a legitimate first base prospect for the Yankees. He is the complete package at the plate and in the field. Kyle Larsen could be a name to remember in the coming years.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nKyle Larsen was originally drafted out of high school in the 14th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the New York Mets after being named to the First Team All King County Baseball Team in his junior and senior years of high school while playing at Eastlake High School in the suburban Seattle area. He opted to stay close to home and attend the University of Washington to play baseball for the Huskies.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was young and wanted to stay close to home and play in front of my family and friends at school\", Larsen told PinstripesPlus.com. \"I figured going to college was valuable and I'd get an education. I just figured it was the right decision and I'm glad I did it. I don't know if I'd still be playing if I didn't go to college.\"
\r\n
\r\nSteadfast in his decision to go to college, Larsen immediately started garnering national attention after hitting .342 with 17 extra-base hits in 51 games for the Huskies as a freshman. Despite following it up with a sub-par sophomore campaign that saw him hit just .274 with 8 home runs, Kyle Larsen had risen the prospect rankings heading in his junior season, ranking among the nation's top 100 collegiate baseball players.
\r\n
\r\nLarsen seemingly improved his stock even more after posting a .344 batting average and knocking 28 extra-base hits and driving in 55 runs in 60 games in his junior season. But yet, he went undrafted. Why?
\r\n
\r\n\"I've heard many different stories about it [about not being drafted]\", said Larsen. \"I have Scott Boras as my agent and I'm not sure if the communication process got crossed up or what, about money and stuff like that. I'm not sure what happened there and it was definitely disappointing not getting drafted last year and then again this year.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe hit just .273 with 8 home runs in his senior year at Washington, showing some inconsistency between his seasons, alternating great years with average seasons.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know it is weird and I wish I had an answer\", marvels Larsen. \"Those two down years I was just off my game. I was swinging at pitches I normally wouldn't swing at and I guess I was just trying to do too much.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhether it was his inconsistent play from year to year or the negative stigmatism that comes with having Scott Boras as an agent, Larsen went undrafted again this past season. However, the talent and his overall game is undeniable. Disappointed in not hearing his name called two years in row come Draft Day, Larsen called the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"The area scout [for the Yankees] kept telling me I was going to be drafted, no problem. They [the Yankees] were the first ones I called after the draft. Two hours after the draft was over I called him up and he was like, 'do you want to be a Yankee?', and I was like, yeah, yeah, great. So here I am.\"
\r\n
\r\nLarsen and the Yankees agreed to terms the morning after day two of the 2005 MLB Draft and he officially signed with the Yankees a week later. Two weeks after not hearing his name selected among the thousands of draftees called, Larsen found himself not only playing for Staten Island, but batting cleanup and starting at first base for the Yankees on Opening Day in the NY-Penn League.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was just hoping to get a chance to play\", said Larsen. \"Being a free-agent, you don't expect much. Despite not being drafted, coming here and batting cleanup on Opening Day for this organization was a dream come true.\"
\r\n
\r\nNamed the Best Defensive First Baseman in the Pac-10 by Baseball America three years in a row, Larsen is a very adept defensive player despite his immense 6'4\" and 240 lbs frame and he is the complete package at first base.
\r\n
\r\nLarsen has made an immediate impression on his coaches. Staten Island Hitting Coach Rob Ducey liked what he saw in the early going. \"His ability to play first base is better than what I expected for the big kid that he is\", said Ducey.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's no question that he has definite, definite hitting ability. Whether he carries that on into the higher levels or not, I am not sure yet. He's a very intelligent young man and he has a pretty good idea at the plate as to what he wants to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nKyle Larsen has modeled his game after a former Yankee and Met first baseman.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've always tried to model my game after John Olerud. I've always been a solid hitter. I've flirted with .400 a few times in my life and I just play solid defense. So he's one that I definitely would say I am like and that I model my game after.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis physical attributes leads many to believe he is a pure power hitter. Such is not the case with Larsen however. He truly is cut in the same mold as John Olerud.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just try to play solid defense all the time. Hitting-wise I just try to come in and drive in runs\", Larsen told us. \"I like to get on base a lot and hit for average. If home runs come, they come. I just try to go gap-to-gap and hit doubles. If home runs come, I'll take them. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I just try to hit the ball hard.
\r\n
\r\nHe is the model of patience at the plate, showing great selectivity at the plate, which is rare in a young ballplayer.
\r\n
\r\n\"Yeah, I try to [draw walks]. You've got to be able to get your pitches or you're not going to be able to hit. So I just go up there and look for something to hit hard.\"
\r\n
\r\nLarsen has come up with big hits in his first week with the Staten Island Yankees. He is impressing everyone with his talent, but nobody more so than his manager, Andy Stankiewicz. \"Here is a guy who went undrafted, which I am having a hard time figuring out\", Stankiewicz told us after their home-opening victory over the Cyclones.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a big kid', said Stankiewicz. \"He's a strong kid. He looks like he can handle a bat pretty well and his swing looks pretty good. He stays inside the ball pretty well. He looks like he wants to use the whole field. There's really a lot of pluses there. I don't really know what happened in the draft but we're happy to have him here and he's fit in well. He looks like he plays a good little first base too. He looks like he has pretty good hands over there and he's going to get an opportunity to play. In the early going, he looks like he's going to make the most of it.\"
\r\n
\r\nDrafted or not, Larsen has the talent to be a legitimate first base prospect for the Yankees. He is the complete package at the plate and in the field. Kyle Larsen could be a name to remember in the coming years.
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