Kruml running free for the Thunder
Two-and-half-months into the season, Kruml is off to a flying a start on the basepaths. His 23 steals rank second in the Eastern League and are a big reason the Thunder’s 69 swipes are also second in the league.
“It’s one of the parts of my game that I’ve worked on for a while,” said Kruml, whose .274 average out of the leadoff spot has also given the Thunder a nice boost. “I’ve always been that type of player to get on base and then steal bases. If I can get a high percentage of base stealing to caught stealing ratio, I’m going to be able to do a lot of things.”
So far, so good for the 25-year-old center fielder in his minor league career. He’s only 76.6 percent this season (23-for-30) but he stole 42 bases (50 attempts) between Class A Charleston and Tampa last season and has an 80.8 percent success rate (101-for-125) since the Yankees selected him in the 11th round of the 2008 draft.
That’s all part of the just-run mentality.
“He makes his attempts every time he gets on base, and that’s what base-stealers do,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who swiped 97 bags during his 10-year minor league career. “One thing you have to do as a base-stealer is you have to be daring. You have to have the willingness to go, no matter what. Even if you get thrown out two or three times in a row, you have to get back on the bases and go.”
Kruml’s done enough to earn the trust of his manager on the bases. He has the green light to go when the situation is right.
“I think (Franklin) trusts me to know the right situations to go and when to not go,” Kruml said. “I don’t think I’ve got in trouble yet, so I think I’m doing an all right job.”
Franklin thinks Kruml is similar to Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner in terms of his base running and doesn’t see why his skill wouldn’t translate to higher levels.
“There’s no reason why he can’t take that talent he possesses here and take it to the major league level,” Franklin said. “That ability he has there plays at the major league level.”
For now though, Kruml will just keep running.
“It’s tougher to pick stuff up (as you move up),” he said, “but I’m just going to keep going. That’s all I can do.”
Catcher Austin Romine was eligible to come off the disabled list yesterday but is not quite ready after suffering a concussion June 2 against Altoona.
Franklin said the organization is being cautious with Romine but he expects him back soon.
“Years ago when we played, if you felt well you played,” Franklin said. “We probably could have been concussed but we played. Now, I think doctors are a little bit more aware of what the possibilities are after collisions. If they deem a person to be concussed, it’s going to take some time.”
Romine is hitting .298 with four homers and 31 RBIs.
Designated hitter Cody Johnson was not in the lineup yesterday because of illness.
Johnson, whose 13 homers are third in the EL, has not missed a game since May 18.