By Jim Lane
CURVE, Pa. — Good players attract good players and Altoona Curve second baseman Kevin Kramer is a good player.
A look at his resume certainly supports that statement because championships are a big part of Kramer’s game.
As a 15-year-old amateur, Kramer was a member of Team USA which won the gold medal over Cuba in the U-16 Tournament in Taiwan in 2009.
“My roommate was Francisco Lindor (now the Indians’ outstanding shortstop),” Kramer recalled recently at Peoples Natural Gas Field. “There were a lot of good players and it was a lot of fun – probably the best 2-3 weeks of baseball my entire life.”
Three years later, as a sophomore at UCLA, he helped the Bruins win the NCAA championship over Mississippi State.
“I’m glad I went to UCLA,” said Kramer, a graduate of Turlock (Calif.) High School. “As a freshman, we went to the College World Series but didn’t play well.
“We went back my sophomore year and won it,” he noted. “It was really cool. We got hot at the right time and won 10 straight games in the regionals and Omaha. It was a really talented team and a lot of the guys are still playing pro ball.”
Former Curve standout and current Pirate rookie Adam Frazier played for Mississippi State.
Then, in the summer of 2012, Kramer played and won a championship with the La Crosse Loggers of the Northwest League.
Drafted in the second round (62nd overall) by the Pirates in 2015, Kramer played in 46 games (.305 average) for the short-season West Virginia Black Bears, who won the league championship after he was promoted to single-A West Virginia for the last 12 games.
In 2016, Kramer was Bradenton’s second baseman and the Marauders won the Florida State League (advanced A) title. He batted .277 in 118 games while leading FSL second basemen in fielding percentage and doubles.
“I’ve been very fortunate to play for some very good teams –good players and good coaches and good organizations,” Kramer said. “We always seemed to play our best at the end, and that’s important.
“Hopefully, there are more championships ahead.”
Promoted to Double-A Altoona for 2017, Kramer has been one of the Eastern League’s top batters for the first couple months of the season.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound lefty swinging Kramer had an amazing start with the Curve, reaching base safely in 32 straight games from April 7 to May 17, which was one game shy of the team record.
“I really didn’t think much about it,” he said of the streak. “Some of my teammates reminded me about it, but I was just trying to get on base and win games. That’s the top priority.”
Kramer grew up in the Bay Area of California and was a San Francisco Giants fan, especially Barry Bonds.
“Now I’m just a fan of good baseball players,” he said.
Besides his baseball prowess, Kramer also was an outstanding high school quarterback, passing for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushing for over 1,000 yards and 16 TDs his senior year.
“I’m glad I played (football),” he said. “It was a lot of fun, but I wasn’t really interested in playing football in college. Baseball was my priority and I moved on.”
Kramer is married (last November) and his wife – “I’ve known her since I was 4 years old” — is here with him.