KEVIN KRAMER, SECOND BASEMAN
|Born: October 3, 1993
Drafted: 2nd Round, 62nd Overall, 2015
How Acquired: Draft
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Kramer played third for UCLA in 2013, then missed all of the 2014 season with a torn labrum. He returned to play shortstop and hit 323/423/476 for the Bruins in 2015. The Pirates announced as a shortstop at the draft, but some scouts question whether he has the arm to stick there and the team has since said they see him as a second baseman. Kramer when he was drafted was regarded as an advanced hitter who projected to hit for average and gap power. Since then, however, he’s changed his approach to try to generate loft and power, at the cost of a lot of swing-and-miss. He doesn’t have good speed and his defense is considered more adequate than anything. Baseball America rated Kramer 133rd in the draft class. Kramer signed shortly after the draft for nearly $150,000 below the slot amount for his spot of $994,800.
Kramer got off to a rough start at Morgantown, posting just a .486 OPS in June and .575 in July. He got hot in August, though, going 28-for-58 (.483) until the Pirates promoted him to the West Virginia Power. He started off 0-for-11 there, but going 12-for-39 (.308) the rest of the way. He showed excellent plate discipline, but not much power. Oddly, he clobbered LHPs for a .943 OPS, but managed only a .668 OPS against RHPs. Kramer played mostly at second, with two games at short for each team. He committed only four errors at second and showed good range.
Moving up to Bradenton, Kramer again got off to a slow start, as did nearly the entire team. He posted just a .637 OPS in April, but got the bat going in May and had a solid season. He didn’t show over-the-fence power, but he did tie for the league lead in doubles, along with exhibiting very good plate discipline. Kramer struggled with LHPs, managing just a 211/294/284 line against them. He hit 295/368/404 against RHPs. Defensively, Kramer played second exclusively and showed very good range while committing only eight errors.
Kramer got off to a fast start at Altoona, hitting for much more power than he had previously. He had a huge month of April, batting 373/478/613. He cooled off in May but continued to hit well. On June 10, though, he suffered a broken hand from a hit batsman. The hand healed more slowly than expected and wasn’t able to start a rehab until near the end of the season, nor to return to Altoona until the playoffs. He had a big platoon split, albeit in a small sample size: he had a .916 OPS against RHPs and .681 against LHPs.
Kramer got off to a solid start at Indianapolis, with an OPS of .724 and .729 in April and May, respectively. In June he got hot, posting a 1.056 OPS, and he hit well the rest of thes season, with very good power. He finished second in the league in doubles. Strikeouts remained a concern throughout, as he fanned once every 3-4 at-bats every month except August, when he cut it to once every five. He had no platoon split. Kramer played mostly second and did well there. He also started 19 games at third and 15 at short. The Pirates called him up in September and he struggled to make contact in limited playing time. He fanned in exactly half of his plate appearances, including one stretch of ten straight. With the Pirates he played exactly 33 innings each at second and third. Baseball America rated him the 14th best prospect in the International League, which interestingly was six places ahead of Kevin Newman.
Kramer spent most of the season at Indianapolis. The Pirates called him up twice during the AAA season, but his playing time consisted of one pinch running appearance. They weren’t going to call him up in September, but changed their minds when Jason Martin got hurt. He ended up getting a fair amount of playing time in the majors, nearly all of it in the outfield, due to a rash of injuries. He again struggled badly at the plate. In AAA, he served more in a utility role, playing less than half his time at second. He got 28 starts in the outfield corners, 15 at third and four at short. Kramer didn’t hit well at Indianapolis, particularly considering the offensive explosion in AAA that resulted from the use of a more lively ball. His OPS was 35 points below the league average. He had only a minimal platoon split.
Kramer was expected to have a chance at a bench job in whatever season took place, but in May he had right hip surgery, ending his season.
Kramer’s 2019 season was a step backwards. His showing late in 2018 already seemed to have the Pirates down on him and the lack of a meaningful callup during the season confirmed that. The hip injury probably won’t help, either. He’s expected to be ready by spring 2021.
|2020: Major League Minimum
|Signing Bonus: $850,000
MiLB Debut: 2015
MLB Debut: 9/5/2018
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2024
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 9/4/2018
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2019)
MLB Service Time: 0.060
|June 8, 2011: Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 25th round, 758th overall pick.
June 8, 2015: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round, 62nd overall pick; signed on June 17.
September 4, 2018: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.