By the end of the second round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, 931 players from across the country had their names called.
Kevin Kramer was No. 758.
The recent Turlock High graduate was just fine with that. His other option: UCLA. And pro scouts knew this, which might explain why he was picked by the Cleveland Indians in the 25th round — information he found out via his friends’ text messages first, as the draft was broadcasted on MLB.com. A representative from the Indians later called him to provide confirmation.
With a secured scholarship to play at UCLA, Kramer, who is a shortstop, is in no rush to sign with the Indians or any other team. His signing deadline is Aug. 15. Until then, he said he’ll discuss his future with his family and friends, all while playing for the 16-to-18-year-old Modesto Babe Ruth team in the summer. And Kramer, who was projected to go as high as the fifth round based on his talent potential (not his signing potential), wasn’t disappointed at how far he dropped in the draft.
“The amount of money I was demanding from teams was extraordinary,” he said. “They knew I wasn’t signable going into this. I didn’t want to set my sights low.”
Kramer has said he expects “first-round money,” which, according to last year’s first-round signing bonuses, is somewhere in the ballpark of $900,000, at least. At the same time, he’s said it isn’t about the money as much as creating the most promising break for his baseball career.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said.”There are so many decisions that have to be made. At this time, I’m neutral.”
He’s not the first Turlock High product to be drafted right after graduation.
Steve Soderstrom was selected in the 15th round (402nd overall) in 1990, but he didn’t sign with the New York Mets. The right-hander pitched at Fresno State before becoming the sixth overall pick by the San Francisco Giants in the 1993 draft.
Dan Reichert, also a right-handed pitcher, was in a similar situation after finishing Turlock High. In 1994, he was the 306th pick of the 11th round by the St. Louis Cardinals, but he also didn’t sign. He went to the University of Pacific and became an All-American. Three years later, he was the seventh overall pick by the Kansas City Royals and signed for a $1.45 million bonus. At 34, after a stint in the Majors, he’s now pitching for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
For Kramer, he doesn’t want to rush into a decision. If he doesn’t sign with the Indians, he will be eligible for the draft again after his junior season at UCLA (under NCAA Division I rules). By then, he’ll be considered a more attractive prospect.
For now, he’s scheduled to start attending UCLA in September. The week after he graduated from Turlock High, he stayed away from baseball. He went golfing and hung out with his friends. But now, he’s getting ready for Modesto Babe Ruth.
He also has two promising options in front of him: UCLA or MLB.
“I’m not leaning one way or another,” he said. “I’m neutral.”
Today marks the final 29 rounds of the MLB draft, with the first pick of the 31st round scheduled at 9 a.m. Some of the local and area products with draft potential are from Cal State Stanislaus, including outfielders Zach Cadet and Fred Atkins and pitchers Andrew Stueve and Vinny Pacchetti.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.