Kyle Dean was slotted by many to be the breakout freshman on this year’s baseball team but after being sidelines with an injury, Keaton Kringlen has filled that role nicely.
Provo, UT – Last year, fans began to buzz at news of BYU signing high school all-american Kyle Dean.
As a legitimate five-tool prospect, there was plenty of reason to be excited. He was expected to come in and contribute immediately.
Dean became a day one starter for the Cougars and showed why he was such a sought after prospect putting up big numbers early in the season including a home run in his collegiate debut as well as going four-for-five from the plate against St. Louis, followed up by a three home run performance against Kansas where he against was four-for-five.
But, unfortunately for Dean, he was injured the next weekend against Niagara.
Suffering a stress reaction in his back, it was announced that Dean would be out for six weeks. But with deep talent on the roster, skipper Mike Littlewood had faith in another freshman.
Kringlen came to BYU out of Canyon View High School in Cedar City where he was a four-time first team all-state selection for the Falcons.
Amassing 40 doubles, 11 triples, and 6 home runs during his high school career, many colleges sought after his talents including Utah, Utah Valley, San Diego, Nevada, and SLCC. In the end, the Cougars won out.
And boy has it paid off.
After biding his time in pinch his situations early in the season, Kringlen got his first start of the season in game three of the series against Pacific where he went three-for-four and picked up two RBIs.
Since then, he’s become a mainstay in the line up. Heading into this weekends series against #25 Creighton, Kringlen is batting .367 with four home runs, 16 runs scored, and 19 RBI as well as a .458 on-base percentage. Phenomenal numbers for a college baseball player, let alone a true freshman.
Where does he find his success?
Kringlen attributes it to the trust the BYU coaching staff has instilled in players, “The biggest thing in baseball when you’re doing good is that you feel good. You feel good when you wake up, you feel good when you get up to the field, you feel good holding the bat and you just see the ball and hit it. Our coaches do a great job of giving us the confidence knowing that we can do it and they have faith we can do it.”
Not only is he getting it done in the batters box, but he has been solid in right field with a 1.000 fielding percentage on 34 attempts.
While he has played well for the Cougars, Kringlen has said that the transition straight from high school to D1 has been somewhat difficult.
“The biggest difference has been pitching. I’ve never seen day one 94 mph, day two 94 mph, day three 94 mph. Everyone is throwing above 90 and they all have good stuff to go with it. The biggest transition is preparing for that and seeing it every single day.”
Kringlen’s best performance this season came when the Arizona Wildcats came to Provo for a Monday matinee game. In the game, Kringlen went two-for-four with two home runs and three RBI.
Even with the success early in his career, he has kept himself humble and is hungry to continue to improve as a baseball player.
“You want to act like you’ve been there before. If you hit a home run you have to respect the game. If you celebrate and taunt, it’ll come back to bit you cause that’s baseball. You got to stay humble so I just smile.”
BYU’s goal heading into the 2016 campaign was to reach a regional tournament – the first since 2001 – and they are well on their way with the help of Kringlen. But, even with all the success that the Cougars have seen, Kringlen believes that the fans have had an important part in their success.
“Our fans are incredible this year and I’ve never experienced playing in front of this many people, ever. The feel of it, it gets you going. You walk up to the field and you know you’ll have good attendance in the crowd and you feel good about it. You want to perform for your school and the fans that come to support you every day. It’s incredible and we definitely have improved because our fans have our back.”