Universal RiderTaylor Kraenzel is the type of player any coach would love to have on the team.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Taylor Kraenzel is the type of player any coach would love to have on the team.
He’s willing to play any position on the field if it means helping his team win.
Kraenzel and the Dickinson Roughriders American Legion baseball team enter the Central Plains Regional Tournament today at Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark.
“It’s really doesn’t matter,” Kraenzel said. “I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team. Over the years I’ve played a lot more infield, but the outfield is really easy to adapt to. My mindset is the same — make every play and have good at-bats.”
“Taylor has been a universal player for us,” Dickinson head coach Cory Hansen said. “He’s played different positions. His plate appearances have been real good.”
Kraenzel, who has a .297 batting average and one home run this season, is attending college in Arizona this fall but plans to come back to Dickinson next summer for his final year of Legion eligibility.
“He’s been a big key for us,” Dickinson second baseman Mason Schiff said. “He’s moved out to the outfield for us, and as much as we can get his bat in the lineup, and his defense in the game is huge for us.”
With the talent of the Central Plains Regional making its way to the Southside, Hansen is hoping the baseball gods are looking down upon the Roughriders.
“We’re pretty fortunate that we get to continue playing,” Hansen said. “We’re going to give it our best effort here. If the baseball gods are with us, we might get a few breaks.”
During the high school season, Kraenzel split time with Jon Wanner at shortstop and started at second base a couple times. Since the Legion season started, Kraenzel still plays multiple infield positions, but now roams in the outfield with Brett Braunagel, Korey Kallenbach, Mark Erickson, Taylor Dutchak and Alex Huschka.
“They helped me more so a few weeks ago when I was just starting in the outfield,” Kraenzel said. “Taylor Dutchak has helped me a lot. He lets me borrow his glove every game too.”
The most important area that’s on Kraenzel’s mind is coming away with a win.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to win,” he said. “It’s not about where I play and even if I wasn’t playing. I’d be happy with a win. The main goal is to get W’s.”
Kraenzel’s arm isn’t falling short in the outfield. He played second base and shortstop during the high school season and parts of the Legion season, meaning a strong arm was needed to throw out runners.
“I pretty much slow play everything, so I don’t get ahead of myself and that’s how I can keep runners from going,” Kraenzel said. “I try to field every ball in the outfield that way. I probably have an infielder’s mindset when I’m fielding the ball. The main thing is cutting down errors.”
At the plate, Kraenzel doesn’t waste too much time in the batters. He’ll be the first to say that he’s looking for a first-pitch fastball. Though he said he is comfortable with two strikes against him.
“I’m always looking to drive the fastball,” he said. “If I get a fastball first pitch, I’ll definitely swing at it.”
“Taylor is kind of one of our RBI guys when we get runners on base,” Hansen added. “He’s been able to knock guys in. We’re going to need that with runners in scoring position.”