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.
- 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.