Tyler Krieger: From Adversity to Excellence
David Freier | On 10, Aug 2016
Tyler Krieger, a 22-year-old second baseman who grew up in Duluth, was born in Orange County, California, but moved to Georgia at the age of five. He still maintains ties with family back in California, and spent some summers out there playing baseball before he went on to college.
Originally drafted by Seattle in the 35th round of the 2012 draft, he chose to attend Clemson and was their starting shortstop for his freshman and most of his sophomore year before suffering a right shoulder injury.
“They treated me well in my time there [Clemson],” says Krieger. “I learned a lot, grew as a person, and I’ll always be following them just because of what they have done for me.”
The shoulder injury limited him to designated hitter for the end of his sophomore year, and then after the season he had surgery to repair the damage.
“In my sophomore year in college I slid into the plate, an awkward slide-dive situation, and tore my rotator and labrum. I had surgery after the season, DH’ing the rest of that year and my junior year.”
He ended up playing second base in the later part of his junior season because his arm strength was still returning. After being drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round of the First-Year Player Draft, he was not assigned to a team, but just worked to strengthen his shoulder.
“I went to Cleveland for my physical,” shared Krieger, “and we decided to send me to Arizona to get me fully strengthened up.”
A switch-hitter, his return from the injury necessitated a focus on hitting right-handed to ease the strain on his surgically repaired shoulder.
“Left-handed hitting came later, just because that’s your lead shoulder,” says Krieger. “The throwing came after that, and it took more time. It’s gotten so much better, even over the course of this year. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made.”
Krieger is a skill player, not showing much power in college, with only three home runs during his collegiate career with the Tigers. In part, that may have been because of his injury.
His performance as a professional suggests he is making up for lost time.
Starting the season with the Low-A Lake County Captains, he put up .313/.385/.427 triple slash numbers and earned a trip to the Midwest League All-Star game in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“It was awesome!” Krieger said about the Midwest All-Star gala. “It’s fun to be around talented players. Then the Eloy Jimenez kid hitting the three run home run in the ninth to tie it up, and coming back to win, the whole experience was awesome.”
Since being promoted to the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats on June 27, he has been working to adjust to the more challenging level and has done quite well, slashing .277/.366/.387 over his first 37 games.
“I’m always trying to refine my skill, get a little bit better,” said Kreiger. “I think Clemson is a tough place to hit, a big yard. I was not able to lift those two years I was hurt. Even going into this offseason, I looked forward to getting stronger, sticking with my approach.”
The results on the field have justified his fourth round selection. He has slotted into the Hillcats lineup most often in the number two hole and his line drive swing is effective at producing hits, with 53 total bases in 137 at-bats so far in his time at High-A.
“It’s been a good start,” he said about his transition to the Carolina League. “The team has really welcomed me in. The competition is going to be a little bit better, so you just have to stay within yourself and understand that it is a long second half.”
As the second half has progressed for the Hillcats, they remain in contention for the second half title trying to complement their victory in the season’s first half. A second half win would assure them of all three potential first round playoff games being played at home at Calvin Falwell Field.
Krieger continues to work hard to get back to where he was prior to his college injury. This entails daily work with Hillcats hitting coach Larry Day on both hitting mechanics and the mental approach to hitting.
“I try to swing at pitches in my zone,” says Krieger about his hitting philosophy, “ones that I can control and not giving in to what the pitcher wants me to swing at. Plus continually making the mechanical adjustments throughout the season.”
When he is not working hard at the ballpark, he likes to get out on the links.
“I love to golf. It’s one of my hobbies back home,” says Krieger. “I grew up golfing with my friends and family. My favorite course is my home course at St. Ives Country Club in Atlanta.”
Whether he is out hitting a driver on a long par 4, or digging into the batter’s box looking for a fastball he can drive into the gaps, Tyler Krieger maintains his focus. As he gets closer to a full recovery on his injured shoulder his on-field performance will continue to improve. With a full return of health and strength to his shoulder he may even get the opportunity to return to playing shortstop.
Don’t be surprised when you hear more about this young and talented player in the Cleveland farm system.
Photo: Jill Nance/The News and Advance