Kruml Becoming The Catalyst

A lead-off hitter is one of the most important hitters in the lineup. They set the tone for the game by giving the middle of the order a chance to drive in runs and a good one can really make an impact on a team. Ray Kruml has fast become the reason the Staten Island Yankees have clicked on offense this year.

Batting in the number-one spot in the order he has all the tools that make him a prototypical lead-off batter. He's got exceptional speed, a patient bat, and is aggressive on the bases.

Drafted in the eleventh round of this years draft, it is very obvious that speed is this 22-year-old's biggest tool and he tries to take advantage of it as much as possible.

In his senior year at the University of South Alabama he stole 31 bases in 36 attempts. This season with Staten Island he's already swiped eight bags through his first twenty games.

Speed like that can be game-changing and Staten Island manager Pat McMahon tries to take full advantage of it. He's been aggressive with the use of Kruml on the bases and he plans on sticking with that plan all season.

"Ray is blessed with outstanding speed," McMahon said. "He's an outstanding base runner and a very aggressive base runner. So he's a guy you want to take advantage of in that respect and utilize his speed game whenever possible."

Kruml doesn't take his speed for granted. He knows that it takes more to be a good base stealer. He learns by studying the best major leaguers and tries to figure out what makes them successful.

"I'll try to watch and see what the good base stealers do," Kruml explained. "I look to see where their feet are, where their hands are, what their looking at. It's always good to observe and collect information that way."

He has taken what he's learned and applied it to his own game. Even though he swipes a lot of bags, he's not just going on every pitch. When he reaches base he's up there with a plan.

"I try to get comfortable and get a good jump," Kruml said. "If I don't get a good jump, I'm going to sit and I'm not going to go. I look for good counts, good breaking ball counts. A pitcher's count is another good time to go because usually he's focused on the batter."

When he's swiping bags he's not just doing it for his own good, he's trying to take the pitcher's attention away from the batter and trying to pressure defenses into rushing a play and making errors. Kruml says that creating tension is the most important aspect of his game.

But it's something he couldn't do without getting on base. So he has worked hard on his plate disipline, which he says gives him more chances to score and also gives his teammates a better chance when they get to the plate.

"I just try to work counts and get on base," said Kruml. "If I don't get on base I try to get guys hitting behind me a good read of the pitcher. You know, his velocity and to help them get a good look at whatever he's throwing."

Don't expect fireworks when he comes to the plate through, power is not one of his many tools, although he is quick to point out that he is not just a slap-hitter.

He goes up there with a plan to trying to hit line drives into the gaps and to utilize his speed by turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples, and the Yankees plan is to help him realize his potential to do that.

"Right now we're staying with what it looks like his strength is," explained Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins. "He's the type of guy where it works to his advantage to have a high on-base percentage and try to put the ball in the gap a little more."

Kruml's speed isn't only his biggest weapon offensively, it makes him a strong defender as well because of his plus range in center field. Having played the position throughout all of high school and college, he says he has developed a strong ability to read the ball quickly off the bat which gives him a good chance to track down anything hit into the air in center.

Even with strong range Kruml is not completely satisfied with his defensive ability. His five foot, eleven inch, 175-pound frame keeps him from getting a lot on throws and he admits that his arm is probably just average.

He has no assists so far with the Staten Island Yankees and only had two in a couple of years at the University of South Alabama. But his manager in Staten Island points out that his arm strength is far from a liability because he uses his other abilities to make up for it.

"So often a player without plus arm strength as a tool can make up for that," McMahon said, "by turning himself into an accurate thrower that gets to the ball quickly and gets the ball into the infield accurately and quickly. That is what we look for, hitting the cutoff man, Ray does a great job of that."

Kruml may not be a five-tool player, but the tools he has are all above average, especially his speed. He is also very smart about using them, he hits for average and can bunt for a hits, but will not hesitate to move runners over. It is also a rare occasion to see him running into outs, especially in big situations.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nBatting in the number-one spot in the order he has all the tools that make him a prototypical lead-off batter. He's got exceptional speed, a patient bat, and is aggressive on the bases.
\r\n
\r\nDrafted in the eleventh round of this years draft, it is very obvious that speed is this 22-year-old's biggest tool and he tries to take advantage of it as much as possible.
\r\n
\r\nIn his senior year at the University of South Alabama he stole 31 bases in 36 attempts. This season with Staten Island he's already swiped eight bags through his first twenty games.
\r\n
\r\nSpeed like that can be game-changing and Staten Island manager Pat McMahon tries to take full advantage of it. He's been aggressive with the use of Kruml on the bases and he plans on sticking with that plan all season.
\r\n
\r\n\"Ray is blessed with outstanding speed,\" McMahon said. \"He's an outstanding base runner and a very aggressive base runner. So he's a guy you want to take advantage of in that respect and utilize his speed game whenever possible.\"
\r\n
\r\nKruml doesn't take his speed for granted. He knows that it takes more to be a good base stealer. He learns by studying the best major leaguers and tries to figure out what makes them successful.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'll try to watch and see what the good base stealers do,\" Kruml explained. \"I look to see where their feet are, where their hands are, what their looking at. It's always good to observe and collect information that way.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe has taken what he's learned and applied it to his own game. Even though he swipes a lot of bags, he's not just going on every pitch. When he reaches base he's up there with a plan.
\r\n
\r\n\"I try to get comfortable and get a good jump,\" Kruml said. \"If I don't get a good jump, I'm going to sit and I'm not going to go. I look for good counts, good breaking ball counts. A pitcher's count is another good time to go because usually he's focused on the batter.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhen he's swiping bags he's not just doing it for his own good, he's trying to take the pitcher's attention away from the batter and trying to pressure defenses into rushing a play and making errors. Kruml says that creating tension is the most important aspect of his game.
\r\n
\r\nBut it's something he couldn't do without getting on base. So he has worked hard on his plate disipline, which he says gives him more chances to score and also gives his teammates a better chance when they get to the plate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just try to work counts and get on base,\" said Kruml. \"If I don't get on base I try to get guys hitting behind me a good read of the pitcher. You know, his velocity and to help them get a good look at whatever he's throwing.\"
\r\n
\r\nDon't expect fireworks when he comes to the plate through, power is not one of his many tools, although he is quick to point out that he is not just a slap-hitter.
\r\n
\r\nHe goes up there with a plan to trying to hit line drives into the gaps and to utilize his speed by turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples, and the Yankees plan is to help him realize his potential to do that.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now we're staying with what it looks like his strength is,\" explained Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins. \"He's the type of guy where it works to his advantage to have a high on-base percentage and try to put the ball in the gap a little more.\"
\r\n
\r\nKruml's speed isn't only his biggest weapon offensively, it makes him a strong defender as well because of his plus range in center field. Having played the position throughout all of high school and college, he says he has developed a strong ability to read the ball quickly off the bat which gives him a good chance to track down anything hit into the air in center.
\r\n
\r\nEven with strong range Kruml is not completely satisfied with his defensive ability. His five foot, eleven inch, 175-pound frame keeps him from getting a lot on throws and he admits that his arm is probably just average.
\r\n
\r\nHe has no assists so far with the Staten Island Yankees and only had two in a couple of years at the University of South Alabama. But his manager in Staten Island points out that his arm strength is far from a liability because he uses his other abilities to make up for it.
\r\n
\r\n\"So often a player without plus arm strength as a tool can make up for that,\" McMahon said, \"by turning himself into an accurate thrower that gets to the ball quickly and gets the ball into the infield accurately and quickly. That is what we look for, hitting the cutoff man, Ray does a great job of that.\"
\r\n
\r\nKruml may not be a five-tool player, but the tools he has are all above average, especially his speed. He is also very smart about using them, he hits for average and can bunt for a hits, but will not hesitate to move runners over. It is also a rare occasion to see him running into outs, especially in big situations.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

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