Saturday, June 15, 2013

Breakout Player Alert: Kramer Champlin

This is 6'6 Lugnuts pitcher Kramer "Champ" Champlin.

He's taller than this in real life.

Background of a Champ:  Kramer went from Olympia High School (WA), where he also played quarterback, to Western Nevada College, where he threw a no-hitter in his first start, to Arizona State University, where he led the Sun Devils in complete games.  He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, proceeding to pitch in the Gulf Coast League and Northwest League in 2011 before spending all of 2012 in Lansing.  He began this season on the Lugnuts' Disabled List.  Once he came off the DL, Champ was relatively reliable in his initial relief outings, excepting a four-run outing on May 6th and surrendering five runs on May 29th.

The Breakthrough Occurred...  when May turned June.  On June 3rd, Kramer twirled a perfect inning against Great Lakes.  Two days later, he tossed 2 1/3 perfect innings against Fort Wayne, earning a spot-start on June 8th at West Michigan.

This was the only baserunner Kramer allowed in that game:



The final line:  7 inn., 1 hit, 0 runs, 10 K's, earning Kramer the honor of MWL Pitcher of the Week.  After all, in that week's span, Kramer Champlin had faced 32 batters -- and retired 31 of them.

Here's Ben White interviewing Kramer and catcher Seth Conner about the game.

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How has Champlin become so effective?  From our simplified view in the broadcast booth, he's using every pitch, pitching from ahead (in consistent 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2 counts), and then finishing the batter off without nibbling around.

From his perspective,

 - He's using his change-up more.
 - He's changed his delivery of his slider, giving it far sharper break.
 - His control, especially of his fastball, has been much better.

If this keeps up, watch for the Blue Jays to offer Champ a new challenge before too long.


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