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Kramer Champlin: Primed for Promotion

Righty improved fastball command, lowered walk rate with Lugs in 2013

Kramer Champlin: Primed for Promotion

March 31, 2014

kramer champlin blue jays

After two seasons in Lansing, Champlin looks bound for Dunedin this season. (Scott Mapes/Lansing Lugnuts)

After two successful seasons in the Midwest League, right-handed pitcher Kramer Champlin seems poised for a promotion in 2014. The Washington native made tremendous strides with his fastball command in 2013, an area the Blue Jays organization wanted to see him improve upon over 2012.

Champlin has been a model of consistency in Lansing over the past two seasons. While a member of the Lugnuts, the 24-year old pitcher spent time as both a long reliever and a starter. Last season, Champlin pitched 81 innings, registering 73 strikeouts to just 16 walks.

“I feel I had a really good season in 2013.” he said. “I had a couple games I wish I could erase, but for the most part I feel I improved on a lot of things and it showed throughout the year.”

The right-hander had the opportunity to make two starts in 2013 and his start on June 8 at West Michigan was the best start by a Lugnuts pitcher all season. One out away from a seven-inning perfect game in Game 2 of a doubleheader, Whitecaps infielder Devon Travis squeaked a single through the infield to break up the milestone. Champlin still finished with a one-hit complete game, and it’s one of his favorite moments of his career to date.

“My game on June 8 was the highlight of my season,” Champlin said. “Coming close to a perfect game was a really cool thing to do, especially at this level. I will remember that game forever.”

Prior to the game, Champlin joked with his catcher Seth Conner that he was going to throw a perfect game. Conner remembers the game fondly and states that catching a game like that was a huge thrill for him and gave him confidence as a catcher.

“Catching Kramer’s big game was a lot of fun,” Conner told JaysProspects with a smile. “Kramer had everything working that day. He was throwing a lot of strikes, which as a catcher makes my job easy. I sat back there and set up a target and he kept hitting my glove. As a catcher that is one of the fun things to do, having a pitcher on their game like that and knowing he has a chance to make history. It was nice to be a little piece of it.

“I remember my last at-bat I lined out to right-field and I wasn’t even mad about it. I just wanted to get back out there and help him reach that goal.”

Excited for Champlin’s development as a pitcher, Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman has enjoyed the opportunity to work with the the right-hander for two seasons and is happy with the fastball command he showed throughout the 2013 season.

“Kramer has done everything to warrant a promotion,” explained Horsman. “[In 2012], Kramer was a good pitcher, but his fastball command wasn’t great, and he was able to get his outs because he has a great breaking ball that he can throw for strikes. In 2013, Kramer commanded his fastball a lot better and he gave us a lot of innings out of the bullpen and he deserves a promotion.

“I wish him all the best in the future.”

In August, Champlin got a brief taste of the Florida State League, pitching 6 1/3 innings with the Dunedin Blue Jays following a promotion in the summer. After throwing a scoreless inning in his debut, he unfortunately allowed a combined 14 runs (eight earned) in his next two appearances. Champlin would’ve preferred better numbers, but he enjoyed the experience and he took away the knowledge of what he needed to improve on for the future.

“I liked pitching in Dunedin a lot and I hope to be back there this year,” he said. “I didn’t pitch as well as I would’ve liked there so they sent me back down in 2013, but it was nice to get a taste of it and I know what I need to work on for 2014.”

After going to Cabo for three weeks, Champlin completed a busy off-season where he split his training between Arizona and California to get ready for the season. Watch for him to take the next step in 2014.

Brian Crawford

Brian Crawford

Brian has covered professional baseball for eight seasons for numerous media outlets.
Brian Crawford
Brian Crawford

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