In June of 2016, Ryan Kreidler was just like most high school seniors. He was hanging out with his family and friends who had thrown him a party to celebrate his recent graduation from Davis Senior High School. However, Kreidler’s graduation party was a little bit different than most. His party also included a special phone call.
Surrounded by family and friends, Kreidler found out he had been drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 35th round.
“Getting that call and seeing my name actually on the board was surreal because I got to share that moment with the people that helped get me there,” Kreidler said.
Once the magnitude of the moment had passed, it meant Kreidler had to make a tough decision: sign with the Cubs or attend college at UCLA.
In the end, Kreidler knew that wearing UCLA true blue was the way to go.
“Going into the draft, I was pretty dead set on going to UCLA, so I just imagined getting drafted late as a total bonus,” Kreidler said. “My family and I really value college both academically and through the relationships you build throughout, so missing out on the best three or four years of your life to get put in Rookie Ball or Low-A didn't seem to match up in our eyes.”
At UCLA, Kreidler has been a starter throughout his first two seasons playing both shortstop and third base despite some ups and downs at the plate and in the field.
Kreidler is hitting just .238 through 100 career games to date and he knows that his bat needs to improve if he is going to play at the next level.
“I need to become a more consistent hitter and find my potential at the plate. I don't think I've shown that in college up to this point, but I definitely believe I can hit at the highest levels of baseball,” Kreidler said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself at the plate, and I definitely want to maximize my potential there to see how good I can become.”
Over this past week, Kreidler has shown flashes of what his offensive potential is. On May 15, Kreidler went 2-5 with five RBI in a win against CSUN.
Heading into this past weekend, Kreidler kept it rolling during a three-game sweep of Oregon. On Friday, he went 1-4 with a stolen base. On Saturday, he went 2-2 with three runs scored and two walks. To cap it off, he had a two-run homer to right field on Sunday afternoon.
On defense, Kreidler has faced adversity as well. He began the season as the starting shortstop but moved over to third base after committing nine errors in 22 games at short.
Since the move to third, Kreidler has elevated his play. He has committed just three errors in 24 games as a third baseman and is currently in the midst of an errorless streak of 12 games.
“I’ve played a little third base last year, so it wasn’t totally foreign to me. I was looking forward to playing shortstop, but Kevin [Kendall] is doing a hell of a job,” Kreidler said in a post-game interview with the PAC-12 Network following yesterday’s 10-2 win versus Oregon. “I’m happy at third base.”
Even though Kreidler is not having his best defensive season, he prides himself on his fielding and believes he is taking the next steps to become an elite defender.
“I came in as a solid defender, but I didn't really understand how to be a consistent defender, and how to communicate as a shortstop. I definitely attribute that growth to coaches Bryant Ward and Niko Gallego. Those guys are always willing to get early work with me and are great at explaining baseball simply,” Kreidler said.
Similar to offense, Kreidler has shown his potential on defense with some great flashes of the leather. His top moment? That would be the number nine play on SportsCenter last season on March 19.
“Nick Quintana hit a high chopper down the line that was either going to be an in-between hop or a misplay, so I decided to go to get the short hop on a slide towards the line. The ball it off my glove and I didn't catch it cleanly, but I was able to pick it up and just threw the thing as hard as I could over to first and luckily got the out,” Kreidler said.
“It was a cool play and one I had never made before. That night, I got a text from my teammate saying "Congrats!" but had no clue what that meant. They then told me to watch the 10:00 p.m. SportsCenter, and I saw myself come in at #9, right in front of a Lionel Messi goal,” Kreidler said.
Heading into the summer, Kreidler is committed to improving his game and has the pleasure of doing so for the Wareham Gatemen.
“Coach Savage [Head Coach at UCLA] told me about this opportunity to play in the Cape and I was all for it. Playing in the Cape has been a goal of mine ever since Cody Keefer, a Davis Senior High School graduate, got to play in the CCBL All-Star game at Fenway Park years ago,” Kreidler said. “I'm really excited to get to Wareham and I'm excited to get to work and win a title.”
The competition of the Cape League also stuck out to Kreidler. A collection of college baseball’s top players in one area was the perfect place to improve his game.
“At UCLA we see really good arms and really good bats throughout our Fall scrimmages and Spring schedule, so I am looking forward to expanding that level of competition into the summer,” Kreidler said.
So what is going to separate Kreidler from some of the best players that the country has to offer?
“One thing I know from playing baseball for this many years is that there will always be a player with better tools than me, but I think the thing that separates me as a player is my feel for the game and my baseball IQ,” Kreidler said. “I have high hopes and goals for myself this summer and am looking forward to succeeding in the Cape because I think this is a big summer for me in my development.”
Wareham fans will have the pleasure of watching Kreidler and his journey beginning on June 12 for the season opener at Chatham.