Kremer carries late-season '19 success into AFL

October 16th, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dean Kremer had, by pretty much any measure, an eventful 2018 season. It was a breakout campaign that saw the right-hander lead the Minor Leagues in strikeouts and finish with a nifty 2.88 ERA while reaching Double-A for the first time. He also was involved in the huge Trade Deadline blockbuster that sent Manny Machado to the Dodgers.

The 23-year-old wanted nothing more than to build off that success in his first full season with his new organization, but he was initially slowed by an oblique injury. Held out of action until May, Kremer started slowly, giving up 12 earned runs over his first three starts when he returned to Double-A Bowie.

After that slight stumble, however, Kremer looked more like the prospect Baltimore thought it was getting in the Machado deal, going 8-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 10 second-half starts in the Eastern League to earn a late bump up to Triple-A Norfolk. He’s carried that over to the mound here in the Arizona Fall League for the Surprise Saguaros, and he was particularly sharp in his Tuesday night start, throwing four shutout innings, allowing just one hit (which he erased with a double-play ball) and two walks while striking out five.

“Fastball command, I felt like I could put it where I wanted for the most part,” said Kremer of his heater, which sat in the 92-93 mph range. “I had two walks, but that’s part of the game. The curveball was good. The slider was much better than it’s been all year, and I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable. I threw in a couple of changeups to see if I could work on something.”

The slider has been a work in progress for Kremer all year, and the fact that he was able to use it as a weapon -- he struck out the side in the second inning after whiffing two in the first -- shows just how well that work has been going.

“The slider felt good tonight,” Kremer said. “It felt like I could put it on the left side of the plate, or my left. I just tried to be aggressive with it.”

The Orioles’ No. 8 prospect has been aggressive all fall, showing an ability to move his fastball in and out seemingly at will. Tuesday’s outing lowered his AFL ERA to 1.29, and over 14 innings, he’s allowed just six hits and four walks while striking out 17. The numbers are nice, but more than anything, it bodes well for what could lie ahead for Kremer in 2020.

“It’s giving me a chance to really work on what I want to without the repercussions of it being midseason,” Kremer said. “The stats out here count, but at the same time, you still need to work on what you need to work on and show what you’ve got for the scouts and then for yourself, to see if you can take it into next season.

“I feel like you work on what you want to work on during [bullpen sessions] during the week. As soon as you step out on the game mound, it’s compete, compete, compete with whatever you’ve got that night, and you have to try and find a way to incorporate what you’re working on, find specific counts where you can mess up and still not give up as much damage. That’s the kind of balance I try to use.”

It’s certainly worked, and it’s come at an important time. Kremer must be added to Baltimore's 40-man roster this offseason or be available to all other teams in the Rule 5 Draft in December. His performance this fall seemingly makes that move only a formality, but it’s something he’s trying not to dwell on.

“I’d rather have it take care of itself and work on what I need to work on and try to put my head down and work hard,” Kremer said. “I feel like things will take care of themselves. If I feel like I performed or if they see growth, then they’ll like me more.”