MAX MAXMILLAN KEPLER
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Nickname:   N/A Position:   1B-OF
Home: Fort Myers, FL Team:   TWINS
Height: 6' 4" Bats:   L
Weight: 205 Throws:   L
DOB: 2/10/1993 Agent: Paul Cobbe of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports
Uniform #: 26  
Birth City: Berlin, Germany
Draft: 2009 - Twins - Free agent - Out of Germany
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2010 GCL GCL-Twins     140 15 40 6 1 0 11 6 1 13 27 .346 .343 .286
2011 APP ELIZABETHTON   50 191 29 50 11 3 1 24 1 1 23 54 .347 .366 .262
2012 APP ELIZABETHTON   59 232 40 69 16 5 10 49 7 0 27 33 .387 .539 .297
2014 FSL FORT MYERS   102 364 53 96 20 6 5 59 6 2 34 62 .333 .393 .264
2015 AL TWINS   3 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .143 .143 .143
2015 SL CHATTANOOGA   112 407 76 131 32 13 9 71 18 4 67 63 .416 .531 .322
2015 FSL FORT MYERS   6 24 4 6 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 5 .308 .333 .250
2016 AL TWINS   113 396 52 93 20 2 17 63 6 2 42 93 .309 .424 .235
2016 IL ROCHESTER   30 110 16 31 4 6 1 19 1 1 16 14 .367 .455 .282
2017 AL TWINS $547.00 147 511 67 124 32 2 19 69 6 1 47 114 .312 .425 .243
Personal
  • Kepler is from Berlin, the son of ballet dancers, with his father being Polish and his mother an American. Scouts refer to Max as being graceful and he has the smooth graceful actions of a ballet dancer. He is a very athletic, very coordinated big man.

    Kepler's mother is from San Antonio. She joined the Berlin ballet in 1984, where she met her husband, ballet dancer Marek Rozycki, a native of Poland.

  • "My mom really got me into baseball," said Kepler, who was once offered a scholarship to the Steffi Graf Tennis Foundation. "She was putting me in all kinds of sports to see what I would like. I played baseball for a public team and had a great coach. I had great coaches with every team I played for in Germany." 

    His mother is from Texas and his father defected from Poland to Germany. Professional ballet dancers, they met while performing with the same company in Berlin. Kepler, obviously, comes by some of his athletic ability naturally. It was also passed on to his younger sister, formerly a top German golfer.  

    Neither was pushed to the ballet, for obvious reasons in the son's case.  "I was six-feet as an early teen," he said. "That's too tall for the ballet."  

    Kepler, now 6-feet-4, was introduced to baseball at age 6 while attending the John F. Kennedy American School in Berlin and played Little League before becoming part of Germany's national team at 14.  

    Soccer was his No. 1 team sport, though, and at first he didn't know what to think when he was first approached by the Twins. In fact, he didn't even really know what a scout was. Kepler, though, decided to put soccer and Germany behind him, heading to the country of his mother's birth, which he hardly knew.  

    "I don't think I realized how many had the dream of baseball in the United States and that I would just be one of so many," he said.  Kepler, who received a bonus of $800,000.

  • Kepler attended a private school and training at an academy in Regensburg, Germany. After signing with the Twins at age 16, he moved to the United States and began his junior year at South Fort Myers High School in Florida, which is across the street from the Twins' training facility there.

    "I didn’t really spread the word that I played pro baseball,” Kepler said about his time in high school, “but it got out and I just kept it on the low because I didn’t want to cause a scene or anything. I just wanted to go there and finish school, and then go across the street and play baseball. But it was a good experience. American schools are a lot different than German schools, and it was fun.”

    In 2009 and 2010, Max spent 16 months earning his high school diploma, getting his driver's license, adapting to a foreign country—and learning baseball from the Twins.

  • Max is the son of an American-born mother who was a top ballerina and married a Polish dancer/amateur soccer player after the met in Berlin.
  • The Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Kepler as the 10th-best prospect in the Twins' organization in the spring of 2010. And he was at #11 in the winter before 2011 spring training. They had Max at #20 in the offseason before 2012 spring camps opened. And he moved back up, coming in at #8 in the winter before 2013 spring training.

    They had Max at #11 in the spring of 2014, and at #12 a year later in 2015. But Kepler worked his way all the way up to 3rd-best Twins prospect in the offseason before 2016 spring training.

  • Kepler became the first German amateur to reach the Major Leagues.

  • Max is fluent in three languages. He has the makeup to bring him success.
  • Kepler played for Germany in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in September, 2012 in Germany.

  • In 2012, Max led the Appalachian League in slugging (.539) and total bases (125) while ranking second in extra-base hits (31) and RBIs (49).

  • In 2015, Kepler led the Southern League in on-base percentage (.416) and slugging (.531) and ranked second in the batting race (.322) and with 54 extra-base hits. One scout said Kepler was the most big league-ready prospect in the league. He was the MVP of the SL in 2015.

  • Kepler is intelligent and has a pleasant personality. He also has a strong work ethic.
  • Max's parents and sister come to the U.S. each summer to see him play, and he gets back to Germany for a month at Christmas.

    "It's good to go back home, but this is where I belong now," he said midway through the 2015 season. "I still have a lot to learn. I want to soak in everything I'm told and continue to get better so I can make the Major Leagues. That became my dream when I signed with the Twins."

  •  In 2015, Kepler was chosen to represent the Twins in the All-Star Futures Game.

  • MLB debut: On September 27, 2015, Kepler became the 43rd German to have an at-bat in the Major leagues.

    After the final game of his first season as Twins manager, Paul Molitor realized he had forgotten something.

    Young right fielder Max Kepler had stroked the first hit of his Major League career in the third inning of an otherwise forgettable loss to the Royals, so Molitor headed back into the home clubhouse at Target Field to commemorate the achievement.

    Clutching a baseball in his right hand, a smiling Molitor worked his way toward Kepler’s locker and made the presentation with a full contingent of media in the room. The 22-year-old rookie struggled to hold back his emotions as he gave a short speech to thank his teammates, even the ones that had forced him to sing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the group.

    “It’s an honor to have a ball handed to you by Paul Molitor,” Kepler said later. “I’ll remember this day forever.”

    Not only did Kepler, son of Polish and American ballet dancers, become the first player born and raised in Germany to record a hit in the Major Leagues, he did so by ripping a full-count slider from Johnny Cueto.

    "He looks like he belongs,” Molitor said after watching Kepler during his 12-day call-up. “He’s just got that presence." (Mike Berardino - Baseball America - 1/15/2016)

  • Don't tell Mr.October. His ego hardly needs the help.

    However, something seemed to click for the Twins rookie Max Kepler after he received a brief tutorial from hall of famer Reggie Jackson before a June 25, 2016 game at Yankee Stadium. Kepler's hitting explosion then produced 12 homers, 32 RBI's and a .649 slugging percentage in the next 31 games since he met Reggie. The message was about using batting practice to spray the ball around the field rather than seeing how far you can hit the ball to the pull side.

    "I'm 70 years old and I can do that," Jackson famously barked. "Let me see you go the other way."

    In his 31 games (and 89 at-bats) in 2016, prior to that summit, Kepler slugged just .416 with 2 homers and 12 RBI's. Any connection?

    "It enlightened me to work on different stuff in BP which could translate over into the games," Kepler said. "It's not like every day I remind myself what Reggie said, but I have a plan now." (Mike Beradino - St.Paul Pioneer Press - August 2, 2016)

  • March, 2017: A German camera crew flew to Fort Myers, Florida to document Kepler as an Major League star in the making.

    TRANSACTIONS

  • July 2009: Kepler signed with the Twins 2009, at age 16, as a free agent. Several scouts said Max was the best European prospect to come along in years. Max was signed by scouts Glen Godwin, Andy Johnson and Howard Norsetter. (Andy Johnson has known Max since he was 14 years old.)

    He was at a tournament in Germany when Kepler caught his eye.)Kepler’s bonus could be the highest for a position player in European history, $775,000. Max has a San Francisco-based agent, Paul Cobbe of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports.
Batting
  • Kepler has the tools to go far—all five tools.
  • Max has very good lefthanded power, especially to the gaps, and a sound, beautiful stroke. It is an easy, compact swing with terrific bat speed and strength. He has some loft in his swing.

    He has solid swing mechanics and a mature approach by using the whole field, staying back on breaking balls and rarely going outside his strike zone. He's balanced at the plate. And he has a knack for barreling the ball.

    Kepler has such a simple lefthanded swing -- simply marvelous.

  • He has good hand/eye coordination and strike-zone awareness. He doesn't have any problem woking a pitcher deep into counts. He has a very good two-strike approach along with impressive pitch recognition. And Kepler has learned to do damage early in the count.

    He has a balanced swing with the ability to drive the ball to any part of the ballpark. His swing reminds you of Luis Gonzalez, D-Backs' retired star.

  • Lefthanded pitching gives him trouble.

  • Kepler hits line drives.

  • Max is a good situational hitter.
  • 2015 Improvements: Offensively, 2015 was different for Kepler. He has gotten more athletic, more aggressive with his swing, and Chattanooga’s hitting coach, former Twin Chad Allen, says that is no accident.

    “We made him do that,” Allen said referring to Kepler’s remodeled swing with a newly incorporated leg kick. There was an emphasis placed on getting him to drive the ball to the pull side without selling out. Increasing his power but without sacrificing his contact abilities.

    Kepler’s swing has come leaps and bounds since his days honing the craft in Berlin. At 16 years old, his mechanics were a crude iteration of what a baseball swing should be. His body lurched out over his front foot to get to the ball. The Twins worked hard to get him to stay back and wait for the ball to come to him. That resulted in a swing like the one he displayed while with the 2013 Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, as seen below. Kepler would use the toe-tap method while keeping his weight back. The current version is one with an aggressive lower-half that is seeking to drive ball rather than just meet it.

    If you watch the progression, Kepler develops from a toolsy hack into an athletic and collected power hitter over the course of five years. He developed a better sense of when to pull the ball and when to go the other way working with hitting coach Chad Allen, and his strike-zone judgment and pitch recognition helped him make the adjustment.

  • Max has impressive strike-zone awareness and superb pitch recognition. In 2015, he walked (67) more than he struck out (63). That is impressive.

    "Just being more confident made me see the ball better. Mechanically, I worked on a leg kick. Every day I came out with the same mindset: ‘Just stay positive.’ Even if I went 0-for-4 or 0-for-6, I just came back every day, ready to work.”

  • Kepler isn’t subject to the same platoon-split issues that plague most lefthanded batters because he can shorten his swing with two strikes and take the ball to left field. He backspins the ball well. And in 2015, Chattanooga hitting coach Chad Allen taught him to pull the ball correctly, so he might develop more home run power.

  • June 12, 2016: Kepler became the fourth player in Twins history to have his first career homer come as a walk-off blast.
  • August 1, 2016:  Coming up as one of the Twins' top prospects, one of the only concerns about Max was how much power he'd produce in the Majors. Kepler has put that to rest during his breakout rookie season of 2016, and it was especially evident as he hit three homers and drove in six runs in a 12-5 win over the Indians at Progressive Field.  

    Kepler, who also grounded out in the fourth, had two chances to hit a fourth homer, but he grounded out to first against newly acquired Andrew Miller in the eighth and singled off reliever Zach McAllister in the ninth.  

    It still marked the fifth three-homer game in Twins history, and the first since Justin Morneau hit three blasts against the White Sox on July 6, 2007. The other Twins to accomplish the feat are Bob Allison (1963), Harmon Killebrew (1963) and Tony Oliva (1973).  "It's definitely an honor to be added to that list," Kepler said. "Those guys are almost legend status."  

    "I'm not a home run hitter, so it's rare," Kepler said. "I'm just trying to hit singles. I'm just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard. I'm thankful for the backspin I was blessed with." (Bollinger - MLB.com)

  • As of the start of the 2018 season, Max's career Major League stats were: .236 batting average, 36 home runs and 218 hits with 132 RBI in 914 at-bats.
Fielding
  • Max has fast-twitch athleticism and graceful actions in the field. He does everything easily, gliding to balls in the outfield. That ease of motion comes naturally and gracefully, like his parents have from ballet.

  • He profiles well in left field. His arm is not strong enough to play well in right field. But his throws are accurate.
  • He also can play center field, the best spot for him.

    "He's a gifted athlete,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He runs better than average. Max is probably faster than most people think he is. He’s a big kid. His body certainly has had tremendous development in the last 18 months or so. (Twins player-development people) say he’s adapting to learning the nuances of center field compared to the corners.”

  • Max has very fluid, very graceful movements around the first base bag. And he has the soft hands for the position.

    "Kepler's good defensively, he's good offensively, he's the real deal. It's exciting for young guys like that to get the opportunity up here and show what they can do. And I think he's doing a good job so far," said Twins' pitcher Tommy Milone of Kepler during Spring Training 2016.

Running
  • Max runs well for a big man, possessing about average speed.
Career Injury Report
  • April–June 20, 2013: Kepler needed nearly three months to heal from a strained throwing elbow injury. He never really felt right all season.
  • July 22-29, 2014: Kepler was on the D.L.

  • July 9-16, 2015: Max was on the D.L. with a sore left shoulder. When he came off the D.L., he played more first base than outfield.

  • May 2016: Kepler was on the D.L. most of the month.