By Jason Shetler
After selecting Kevin Newman with their first round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, the Pirates selected Kevin Kramer in the second round, much to predictable, yet entertaining Seinfeld jokes on social media. Kramer was chosen out of UCLA, which made him the highest drafted pick from there by the Pirates since Gerrit Cole was taken #1 overall in the 2011 draft.
Kramer began his pro career in 2015 with the West Virginia Black Bears, and was promoted to the West Virginia Power before season’s end. Combined with both affiliates, he batted .291 and put up a .741 OPS.
In his first full season in the minors last year, Kramer played for the Bradenton Marauders. He hit .277, while posting an OPS of .730, and had 29 doubles, which were tied for most in the Florida State League.
Back in October, I did a post that mentioned five potential breakout prospects in the Pirates system for 2017, and Kramer was one of them. He entered this year as the Bucs 20th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Kramer is off to an incredible start for the Altoona Curve, with an average of .366 and a 1.060 OPS, as well as reaching base in all 22 games he has played to this point. Here are the offensive categories in which he currently ranks in the Eastern League.
.366 average – 3rd
.475 OBP – 1st
.585 SLG% – 5th
1.060 OPS – 1st
48 total bases – Tied for 5th
To suggest that Kramer feels comfortable facing AA pitching is a big understatement right now, as he ranks Top 5 in each of the offensive categories that I just mentioned. His terrific start to the year will most likely earn him a promotion to AAA Indianapolis before the season is over. Now that Kramer is beginning to open some eyes, perhaps he puts himself into the conversation in regards to being the Pirates second baseman of the future.