Lookouts Max Kepler Looking to Become One of the Few German Born Players to Make the Big Leagues
Chattanooga-(WDEF) If you’ve seen the Lookouts Max Kepler at the plate, it’s hard to ignore his graceful swing.
Maybe he gets that from his parents, who are both professional ballet dancers.
Kepler is a rare, baseball professional.
He’s one of the few guys playing the game who was born in Germany.
Max Kepler grew up playing multiple sports in Germany, but where do you play baseball in a country dominated by soccer?
"I went to an international school where they had a little league. I got to play in that. German schools really don’t work the baseball into their school system. It’s usually soccer."
Kepler admits he was tempted to make soccer his number one sport.
"It came down to soccer and baseball. I decided to go with baseball because I wanted to go abroad and see what another country had to offer."
At the age of 16, Kepler signed with the Minnesota Twins.
He got an $800,000 signing bonus, an almost unheard of amount for a European kid.
And not long after that, Kepler was playing ball with grown men.
"It was tough being away from my family. Just living in a hotel that first full season. I was surrounded by all kinds of nationalities. Just having to focus on yourself at the age of seventeen was tough."
This season, Kepler worked his way up to Double-A, where he was recently named the Southern League player of the week.
"I wouldn’t focus on those weekly and monthly awards. I want to win as a team. When you focus on just winning as a team, all the individual stats that I don’t focus on come by itself."
The sweet swinging left-hander is hitting right at .300.
Said Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz,"Kep has come along way in a year. He’s going through a little bit of a rut right now. He’s learning how to pull the ball finally. So far, so good. This kid has a ton of talent. Just needs to harness it a little bit."
Added Kepler,"Definitely working on my power. I’ve been getting my doubles. Now I’m trying to hit the ball over the fence."