Kevin Kiermaier Building A Brand With The Rays
Kiermaier Building Reputation On Hustle & Attitude
Kevin Kiermaier has only been in the major leagues a short period of time but he is having his impact felt and making people take notice.
He brings an energy with him to the park everyday which is exemplified by his constant hustling. He is the type of player whose style of play is contagious in a clubhouse. "I want to it's going to be very contagious, I mean the kid plays the game the right way, the proper way." Joe Maddon said. "If I'm any other player on this team and watch the way he plays and I'm not impacted by that then my eyes are closed. You've got to go out with your eyes wide open. You've got to play with your hair on fire just like he's doing right now."
His hustling style was on display in the 4th inning Friday night against the Seattle Mariners when he stretched a single into a double. "I just try to play with good energy everyday and on a play like that I just try to catch the outfielder sleeping. I just wanted to be aggressive there and try to spark us and get something going." Kiermaier said. "It ended up working out - because I've gotten thrown out doing that before and it doesn't look good- so right there I like my chances. Like I said I just wanted to spark us any way I could."
The spark under his hood may have been lit when he wasn't drafted until the 31st round in the 2010 draft. Rays Scouting Director R.J Harrison when talking about the newest crop of Rays draftees used him as an example of players that may have a chip on their shoulder after draft day.
"Attitude and effort and all that - you can't really measure that." Harrison said. "You look at a kid like Kiermaier - 31st round draft pick - from the day he stepped into Princeton there was no let up, he was determined to be a major league player. He worked at it everyday."
His work ethic and hustle have paid off and he is enjoying his time in the majors. "It's been really good, just getting to know everyone and everyone really accepting me." Kiermaier said. "Everyone treats me great so it's been a lot of fun so far. We're going to try to pull out some more wins and get this thing going again, but everyone's attitude has been really good so it's kind of a fun time for me."
Kiermaier Talks About Hustle & Attitude
It was hard not to notice him last September when he was a surprise addition to the Rays 40-man and 25-man rosters for Game 163 against the Texas Rangers.
He opened the 2013 season with the Rays Double-A affiliate Montgomery Biscuits and after posting a slash line of .307/.370/.434 in 97 games (417 plate appearances) he was promoted to the clubs Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls where he finished the season hitting .263 (36x137).
At the end of the minor league season he went home to Fort Wayne, Indians but came back to the Rays minor league complex in Port Charlotte to take part in a hitting clinic. It was there that he was told that he was being flown to Texas with the possibility of joining the team.
It was his first time flying first class and when he arrived in Arlington he received the news that he had been added to the roster. Of making he told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, "I felt like if I played well they were going to have to make a decision on me sooner or later, and today was the day, Sept. 30, 2013," he said. "You can call it a Cinderella story, but there was a lot of hard work and I'm just thankful for the opportunity."
He began this season with the Durham Bulls but received his first of three call ups to the Rays on April 12th in Cincinnati. He started in centerfield and despite going 0 for 4 in the game he did throw deliver a strike to home plate to throw out Joey Votto to help secure the Rays 1-0 victory.
He returned to the Bulls after his one game against the Red still in search of his first major league hit but he wouldn't have to wait long to get the call to join the team once again.
On May 17th he joined the Rays to take Desmond Jennings who had to depart the team to attend to a death in the family. He picked up his first major league hit in the top of the 6th inning off the Angels C.J. Wilson and made two strong throws from center that made plays closer than they should have been.
When Jennings returned from his bereavement time he once again reported back to Durham but would return to the Rays a few short days later when Brandon Guyer broke his thumb attempting to make a diving catch.
He has played in just 14 games for the Rays this year and is hitting .371(13 for 45) and of his 13 hits a total of 7 are for extra bases including three home runs.
Inside The Park Home Run at Fenway Park
He has also made several defensive gems like this one.