Jimmies pitcher Kries has shot at being draftedJAMESTOWN — The Major League Baseball Draft has never included a player from the Dakota Athletic Conference. That may change today.
By: Dave Selvig, Forum Communications Co.
JAMESTOWN — The Major League Baseball Draft has never included a player from the Dakota Athletic Conference.
That may change today.
Hard-throwing Jamestown College pitcher Alex Kreis has been in contact with a number of teams in recent weeks and could become the first Jimmie or DAC player ever selected today when the MLB draft resumes at 10 a.m. with rounds 2-30. The final 20 rounds are on Wednesday.
Kreis, a former high school standout at Grand Forks Central, was the DAC pitcher of the year this season, going unbeaten at 6-0 with a 3.13 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 63 innings. But stats don’t mean much to pro scouts. Hitting 94 miles per hour on the radar gun does, however, something the Jamestown junior did in front of a handful of scouts back in February when the Jimmies played at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Kreis was consistently in the 88-92 mph range for the Jimmies this year, and is currently pitching for the Florence (S.C.) Redwolves in the Coastal Plains League, where many of the top college players in the country play in the summer. The Redwolves are coached by Russ Carter, a catcher on the 2004 Jamestown team that advanced to the NAIA World Series.
Tuesday could turn out to be quite a day for Kreis. He’s scheduled to pitch for the Redwolves against the Morehead City Marlins while the draft is going on in New Jersey.
“It’s an exciting process and when you combine that with the normal excitement and anxiety of pitching, it will definitely be a unique experience,” said Kreis. “I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. I’ll want to have a phone around, but other than that I want to make sure I’m ready to go out and pitch, too.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks have shown the most interest of any team, telling Kreis they considered him a Group 4 player, equivalent to a player normally selected between rounds 9-15.
He’s hopeful for a call from the D-backs, or some other team, but understands the draft process can be quite fluid.
“Things are looking good, but you never know what can happen in a situation like this,” Kreis said. “I’ve talked about signability issues and round-wise where they (Diamondbacks) see me, so that’s encouraging. But at the same time it’s out of my hands. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Kreis was a rare freshman in that he contributed immediately for the Jimmies. Few pitchers from North Dakota make much of an impact in the DAC as a teenager. But Kreis did, and it did not surprise Jimmies head coach Tom Hager.
“Alex has a lot of natural ability, but he’s also a very intense competitor,” Hager said. “He’s worked his butt off the last three years at Jamestown College to become the pitcher he has.
“When you combine hard work, determination and a God-given arm like he has, you get a prospect that a lot of people are going to have interest in.”
Kreis came to Jamestown with a hard fastball, but also a little extra around the waist. He’s replaced some of that with muscle to his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame.
“He’s slimmed down and become a very explosive individual to have the velocity that would attract scouts,” Hager said.
He’s worked closely with Jamestown pitching coach Tim Nelson through the years. Hager knew he was for real when he beat perennial NAIA power Bellevue (Neb.) to secure a spot in the NAIA World Series for the Jimmies in 2008.
He’s also gleaned knowledge from Jason Schutt, the former Jamestown High School and American Legion standout who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2005 and spent the last five years pitching professionally. Schutt has spent a lot of time working out with the Jimmies, particularly in the offseason.
“I’ve had a great time at Jamestown College. Coach Hager and the coaching staff bring in quality players and quality guys and I think it’s only helped in my development,” Kreis said.
If it happens, he’d be proud to carry the mantle as the first DAC player drafted.
“I’d love to be that person,” he said. “Sometimes Midwest schools and the NAIA don’t get enough credit. If this brings a little more attention to the type of baseball we play, that would be awesome.”
Selvig is the Sports Editor of The Jamestown Sun, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.