NTON — It’s only been two weeks, but already an early star has has emerged for the Thunder — and it’s not who you might have expected.
Your Trenton star through 14 games is leadoff man Austin Krum, who has done a fabulous job setting the table for the team’s big boppers.
Krum is hitting a scorching .314/.444/.333 with 11 runs scored, which stands as 21.5 percent of the team’s total.
His early breakout comes as a bit of surprise because, toward the end of last season, Krum was having a tremendously rough go of it. He hit .150 through August and September last year, although he got moderately better in the playoffs.
He credits this season’s turnaround to a renewed approach to shorten his swing more befitting of someone in the leadoff hitter’s role.
“I tried to cut down my swing this offseason, worked hard at it. I was trying to stay within myself and stay within my game and not get out of that,” he said after Trenton’s win over Richmond on Wednesday, during which he collected three hits, including a beautiful bunt single that helped catalyze a two-run rally in the second inning.
“I think that, if you can consistently keep a good approach, that you’re going to put yourself in a better position to succeed,” Krum finished.
One of the men Krum sets the table for, catcher Austin Romine, has also taken notice of his teammate’s early production. And why shouldn’t he? Of Romine’s 12 RBIs, five have scored Krum.
“We don’t expect anything less or anything more, Romine said. “He’s going to go out there and do what he does every day. A lot of the younger hitters that haven’t been in Double-A before, they can see how to go about their work and how you prepare for a game. It just speaks volumes if you keep your head down and keep playing hard, that the hits are going to start falling.”
Besides simply getting on base at a generous clip, he also has the speed to create havoc once he gets there. His 16 stolen bases last year and three so far this season have made that abundantly clear.
What’s different this season is the burner he has hitting in front of him, Ray Kruml, who bats ninth.
Kruml, who plays right field while Krum patrols left, has a system-leading six swipes in as many chances. Together, Krum realizes the pair will be able to torment pitchers throughout the Eastern League.
“It’s awesome. As you guys can see from this first handful of games, Ray’s got some speed. He’s basically a second leadoff guy down there,” Krum said. “Whenever he gets on, he wreaks havoc on the bases. It’s great hitting behind him, because he can do his thing and that allows me to do my thing at the top of the lineup. I can try to move him over and get him in scoring position for these big bangers.
“Whenever we’re on base, it’s probably not very fun for the pitcher, especially because they’ve got to focus on getting the two, three and four (hitters) out after that.”
The Thunder fell in the first game of their road swing on Thursday, 4-3, in 10 innings against the Harrisburg Senators.
Tim Pahuta, a Somerset native and Seton Hall alumnus, connected against closer Fernando Hernandez for a walk-off longball in the tenth inning.
The loss spoiled five stellar innings from starter Graham Stoneburner, who limited the Senators to just two hits and struck out four.
All of the Thunder’s runs came on one swing from Romine, who swatted a three-run double in the third against Harrisburg starter Ryan Tatusko.
Kevin Millwood was officially removed from the Thunder’s roster yesterday, and was quickly replaced by Kei Igawa, who made a spot start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Millwood was scheduled to start for Scranton yesterday.
Former Thunder starter Hector Noesi, who had been with the Yankees, was demoted to Triple-A yesterday to make room for reliever Buddy Carlyle. Noesi did not pitch during his stint with the big club.
Labels: Around the System, Austin Krum, Ray Kruml