The Pittsburgh Pirates are set to lose yet another utility man from their depth for the 2020 season. This time with Kevin Kramer undergoing surgery
According to a tweet by Adam Berry, Pittsburgh Pirates utility prospect Kevin Kramer will miss a good chunk of time, and likely the entirety of the season if there is a 2020 season. Berry tweets that Kramer will miss 4 to 6 months before resuming baseball activities. This will be due to hip surgery.
According to Berry, the surgery was to repair chronic symptoms that “prevented Kramer from continuing his training”. Kramer, a 2nd round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015, entered camp battling for one of the final roster spots. So far in his short MLB career, the lefty batter has only produced a .152/.222/.165 line in 90 plate appearances, resulting in an OPS+ and wRC+ of only 7.
Kramer also struggled at Triple-A during the 2019 season. In 448 plate appearances with Indianapolis, Kramer hit just .260/.335/.417 with 10 home runs. He did hit 30 doubles, which is the highest mark of his professional career. All told, he only had a .328 wOBA and 92 wRC+. That wRC+ mark placed him 107th of the 146 qualified batters, and tied him with other Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers Ke’Bryan Hayes and Will Craig. Although he posted a career best single season walk rate of 9.2%, he also struck out more often at a 25.9% clip.
However, Kramer batted pretty good in 2018 at Triple-A. Through 527 plate appearances, he batted .311/.365/.492 with 15 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a 141 wRC+. But that season was fueled by an extremely high batting average on balls in play of .392. He also walked (7.2%) and struck out (24.1%) at mediocre rates.
Although his primary position is second base, Kramer has some experience at third base and shortstop. Throughout the minors, he racked up 297 innings at the hot corner and 200 innings at short. But in recent seasons, the Pirates have expanded Kramer’s versatility. Last season at Triple-A, Kramer received 235 innings in the corner outfield. When he was called to the majors, Kramer received 93 more innings between left field and right field.
Overall, Kramer is a below average fielder with a 40 current grade and 45 future grade with an average arm (50 current and future grade). That’s reflected in his major league fielding stats as he has negative marks in UZR at second base and the two corner outfield positions.
Currently, FanGraphs places the utility man as the Pirates’ 20th best prospect. Right now, he only projects as an average batter in the future with a 50 future grade for his hit tool, and 45 future grades for both his raw and game power tools. He also isn’t a great base runner with a sprint speed of just 25.9 feet/second. Although he probably won’t play a large role in the team’s future, it still is a hit to their team’s depth. The Pittsburgh Pirates already lost another versatile utility man in Pablo Reyes to a PED suspension, and Kramer now will likely miss the entirety of the 2020 season.