Kepler with the Minnesota Twins
|Minnesota Twins – No. 26|
February 10, 1993 |
|September 27, 2015, for the Minnesota Twins|
(through 2016 season)
|Runs batted in||63|
Maximilian "Max" Kepler-Rozycki (born February 10, 1993) is a German professional baseball outfielder for the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball (MLB). Before signing with the Twins, he played for Buchbinder Legionäre Regensburg of Bundesliga. He is left-handed.
Kepler was born in Berlin, Germany. His parents, Kathy Kepler and Marek Rozycki, were both professional ballet dancers; they met when they performed in the same ballet company in Berlin. His mother is from San Antonio, Texas, while his father is from Poland. Kepler is 1.92 metres (6 ft 4 in) tall and weighs 98 kilograms (216 lb). Max has one sister.
At the age of six, Kepler started baseball at the Little League level with the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin. Though he received a scholarship at age seven to the Steffi Graf Tennis Foundation, he decided he preferred baseball. Kepler attended John F. Kennedy School, and the St. Emmeram Academy in Regensburg in 2008, where he was able to train in baseball more than the average American teenager. He played association football with Hertha BSC, and played baseball for Buchbinder Legionäre Regensburg of Bundesliga, the highest baseball league in Germany.
Andy Johnson, an international scout working for the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball (MLB), first noticed Kepler when he played in a junior national tournament at the age of 14. He signed with the Twins in 2009 for US$800,000, the largest signing bonus given by an MLB franchise to a European-born player. Kepler made his American debut in the Rookie-level in 2010 Gulf Coast League (GCL) with the GCL Twins. He was promoted to the Elizabethton Twins of the Rookie-Advanced Appalachian League in 2011. He was assigned to Elizabethton for the 2012 season. An elbow injury delayed the start of Kepler's 2013 season, when he was assigned to the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Class A Midwest League. Following the regular season, the Twins assigned Kepler to the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
After the 2013 season, the Twins added Kepler to their 40-man roster and he was invited to spring training. Kepler played for the Fort Myers Miracle of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League in 2014, and opened the 2015 season with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Class AA Southern League. Kepler was selected to represent the Twins at the 2015 All-Star Futures Game, though a sore shoulder prevented him from playing. Kepler finished the 2015 season with a .327 batting average, nine home runs and 18 stolen bases. He was named Southern League Player of the Year.
The Twins promoted Kepler to the major leagues on September 21, the night after the Lookouts won the Southern League championship. He made his major league debut on September 27, and recorded his first hit on October 4.
The Twins assigned Kepler to the Rochester Red Wings of the Class AAA International League to start the 2016 season. After playing in two games for Rochester, the Twins promoted him to the major leagues to replace the injured Danny Santana on April 10. Fifteen days later, Kepler was optioned to Rochester. On June 1, Kepler was recalled to replace the injured Miguel Sanó, and he began getting regular starts for the Twins in right field. The next day, Kepler had his first multi-hit game, and on June 12, Kepler swatted his first major league home run, a walk-off three-run shot in the 10th inning off of Matt Barnes of the Boston Red Sox. On August 1, Kepler became the first European-born MLB player to hit 3 home runs in one game against the Cleveland Indians and the 5th Twins player to do so after Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Justin Morneau. On August 8, Kepler was named co-American League Player of the Week, his first time receiving that honor, alongside teammate Joe Mauer.
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- Bollinger, Rhett (September 21, 2015). "Twins call up German-born Kepler for stretch run: Recently named Southern League MVP, outfielder ranks as club's No. 6 prospect". MLB.com. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
- Heneghan, Kelsie (February 9, 2016). "Kepler rides roller coaster to Minnesota: Twins prospect deals with disappointment, playoffs before first callup". MiLB.com. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- Kraft, Alex (March 25, 2016). "Twins option Kepler to Triple-A Rochester: Third-ranked prospect heads to International League for first time". MiLB.com. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
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- "Twins send top prospect Byron Buxton, batting .156, to minors". ESPN.com. Associated Press. April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- Miller, Phil (June 12, 2016). "Kepler's first career home run is a walkoff winner over Boston". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved June 13, 2016.