Former Trinity star Tyler Kuhn has been an all-star at three minor-league levels.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The next big-league baseball player from Louisville will have to overcome the crowd that is not convinced Tyler Kuhn will become the next big-league player from Louisville.
That's OK. Not everybody was convinced Kuhn would star at Trinity High School. He did. They wondered if he would play at West Virginia. He set school records. They weren't certain he would get an opportunity in minor-league baseball. But the White Sox gave him one – and Kuhn has hit leadoff this summer for Charlotte, Chicago's Triple-A team.
Too small. Too skinny. Not enough thunder in his left-handed stroke. No position where Kuhn looks like the best guy on the field. Even at Trinity, Brian Brohm and Matt Brady were considered better players.
True, true, true.
This is also true: Kuhn has finally come home to play his first professional series at Louisville Slugger Field – and he arrived as the guy who has scored the third most runs in the International League. You can also find his name in the Top 10 in doubles, hits and at-bats.
Maybe the next call Kuhn receives is the one that he needs to pack for the big leagues?
"I try not to think that way," Kuhn said. "Being a 15th round draft pick and still being decently young (25) for this level, if that comes one day it will be a great surprise.
"If you start thinking about stuff like that, then you'll start putting a little more pressure on yourself and start pressing. I've never been that kind of player.
"I've just kind of been, enjoy every game, play as hard as you can. If you put together a good game, then you try to put together a good week, a good month, a good year. Then you make that position very tough on the front office. That's my job."
This is Kuhn's first full-season in Triple A, one summer after he hit a sizzling .341 for the White Sox Double-A team in Birmingham, making a minor-league all-star team for the third time.
That was his best pro season, but it wasn't good enough for the White Sox to promote him to their 40-man roster.
They left Kuhn exposed in baseball's Rule 5 draft, which means any big-league franchise could have taken him as long as they were willing to keep him on the major-league club this season. Nobody took that risk.
So he returned to the White Sox, where he earned an invitation to his first big-league camp, preparing in the locker room with Adam Dunn, A.J. Pierzynski and the other regulars. He was optioned to Charlotte prior to the season. He's been solid, but not spectacular, batting .271.
He doesn't hit for power – four home runs in 409 at bats. That's not his game, not at 5 feet 10, 185 pounds. That's never been his game, all the way back to St. Matthews Little League and Trinity, where Kuhn remembers hitting ninth as a freshman
When Kuhn gets to the big leagues he'll have to be a guy eager to hit, bunt, catch, throw, shag, warm-up pitchers, the works. He has split time this season at second base, third base and left field, but Kuhn can play shortstop as well as the other two outfield spots.
"The infield stuff is where I need to improve most," Kuhn said. "To be a little more sound fundamentally to be able to play all three infield positions. That would be my ideal situation.
"Obviously everybody wants to be an everyday player in the big leagues and play your position every day. I love the idea of being a utility guy. I just really do.
"I like bouncing around positions. I like the mixture of playing infield and outfield. It keeps the season fresh. It kind of gives you a new perspective on playing. I hope one day a team would give me a chance and want me to be that utility guy for them."