At the opening of the 2015 baseball season Dace Kime was ranked as the #20 prospect in the Cleveland Indians system. The 23 year old 6’4” 200 lb. right-hander was drafted in the third round of 2013 out of the University of Louisville.
An avowed user of Twitter, Kime has the quintessential growth mindset, a hunger to learn, be it about the world around him, or the game which he so much enjoys.
“I like to learn, I enjoyed school and I’m going back to school even though I graduated this year.” he said. “I use Twitter as a medium to share my passion with people. When I tweet some weird stuff out, some people like it, some people don’t. In Frederick last week I had two physicists come up to me before the game. They were asking me stuff about black holes, about crazy things. It blew my mind, but it made my day.”
For Kime, Twitter is a means of expression and interaction and he has become a regularly featured tweeter at the Minoring in Twitter blog on MiLB .com. This recent blog featured his procession of tweets while he watched the summer blockbuster Jurassic World.
Kime exudes a hunger for learning that has now begun to transform his pitching talent and reaffirm his status as a prospect in the Cleveland Indians system.
native of Hicksville, Ohio, the closest city to where he was raised was actually Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is the listed place of his birth.
“My family lived in Hicksville which is right across the border in Ohio. So when my mom had me it was easier to drive over to Fort Wayne.”
Being an Ohio native one might assume Kime grew up rooting for either the Indians or the Reds, or perhaps the Tigers, but such was not the case.
“Looking back I never really had a team,” said Kime, “I was a big Ken Griffey Jr. fan, so I would say I was more of a Reds fan than anything else, plus I have some family down in Cincinnati.”
When he was drafted by the Indians he was excited to be able to have the opportunity to play baseball close to home.
“My brother is a big Indians fan, and my grandpa is a big Indians fan. He was extremely pumped when I was drafted.”
Since being promoted to High-A Lynchburg on May 12 his season performance had been up and down. As the Hillcats team has coalesced and made a run to the second half Northern Division title, he has begun to contribute more to the team’s success, particularly in the month of August.
Now in his third professional season Kime has begun to show the promise of being a third round pick. He has had 26 starts this season, the first six at Low-A Lake County, with the remainder at the Hillcats.
This season he has been focusing on mastering his array of pitch options and repeating his delivery. He throws a fastball that can get into the low 90’s, a change-up, a 12-6 curveball, and a slider that he began to develop last season with current Hillcats pitching coach Rigo Beltran.
Speaking about what he and Kime have worked on in the latter half of the season, Beltran said “Keep developing that delivery. Working on the lower half, keep moving in that direction.”
Through the end of July the stats on Kime were not distinguishing him from the other Hillcats starters. He had a 4.66 earned run average in 13 starts, with 48 strikeouts and 29 walks. After his final start of July against the Salem Red Sox he and coach Beltran made a change to the way he grips his change-up.
“I used to throw more of a circle change, whereas this year I’ve changed it to more of a four seam grip to make it look like my fastball.”
He had a rough first outing with this new grip on August 4 when he allowed six runs in two and two thirds innings to Frederick. In the four games following this adjustment, Kime has lowered his ERA from a season high of 4.89 to a 4.46, and struck out sixteen batters while giving up only four free passes.
Speaking before his August 22 start, Coach Beltran agreed about Kime’s recent improvement on the mound. “The last three outings, he gave up six runs in the first one, but he showed a lot of promise with his delivery, showed a lot of things we’ve been waiting for and he’s been able to carry that through the last two outings.”
The get it done mindset of the Hillcats has built the team into a winning club, and Kime has been right in the mix, aiding the turn-around for a team that finished 33-37 in the first half, five games behind the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The team has surged to a 70-62 record on the season, the second best overall in the Carolina League and Kime has begun to contribute.
“Really just attacking the zone.” he said about his approach when he toes the rubber each outing. “I go out there, in my head I’m thinking I’m throwing a perfect game each day.”
Though his record on the season is 5-10, he has received a no decision of six of his last ten starts he has thrown five or more innings in eight of those starts and has left the game leaving his team in a position to win.
s he continues to hone and develop the skills necessary to be a successful pitcher he reflected upon where he has made the greatest improvements in his game this year.
“Where I think I’ve made the most gains is just in reading swings and knowing how to pitch sequence guys. You go out with a game plan for a guy. If (the scouting report) says he has a slow bat and you are going to throw a pitch away and he tattoo’s it you’ve got to be able to change and be able to see how he’s swinging the bat that day.”
With his changed grip and a get it done mindset about his baseball prowess Dace Kime is a name to watch on the Indians prospect lists.