BRADENTON, Fla. — Looking to continue to move up the ladder, Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand D.J. Crumlich understands that consistency is the key to his success.
After a successful campaign at the University of California Irvine campus, the middle infielder was a short-season New York-Penn League all-star and his team’s MVP award winner. After two promotions last season, he hopes to progress and carry over his momentum into this year.
“That was my first [full] year out and I had a good year carrying over from college,” said Crumlich following a spring training workout on Tuesday at the Pirate City minor league facility. “I struggled a little bit in the beginning of last year but I feel like I ended pretty well.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound shortstop, known for his defensive prowess, who began his baseball career at the age of four was first drafted by the Pirates in 2011. However, he chose to return to UC Irvine for his final season before being drafted again as a senior by the Pirates in 2012.
Crumlich found it extremely difficult to decide to stay in school back when he was first selected, though he feels his choice was the right one.
“It was a pretty tough decision,” he said. “For me to leave the situation that I was in, I really loved UC Irvine, so I feel like I would have had to have gotten a pretty good offer for me to come out.”
A defensive standout everywhere he plays, Crumlich recalled his earliest baseball memory of winning an elite youth championship as a child during a road trip to Houston.
The shortstop possesses the right attitude to succeed and understands that his baseball career will not last forever.
“I was used to winning a lot so I think my last year [in college] taught me to battle through some adversity,” he said. “It was good for me to get my degree.”
The Irvine, Calif., native believes that his decision to return to school has made him a much better ball player while also becoming a leader, an attribute he admires.
As a major fan of future hall of famer Derek Jeter, Crumlich admits it will be difficult to watch the New York Yankees next season without the historical No. 2 in the lineup.
“He’s the guy I grew up watching and I tried to emulate my game after his,” said Crumlich. “I got to play against him during a spring training game last season and that has been one of the highlights of my career so far.”
Although the young right-handed hitting shortstop looks up to Jeter, Crumlich’s grandmother has been his most influential role model.
When asked why he writes his deceased grandmother’s initials A.B.F. on the inside rim of his ball cap and batting helmet, Crumlich said, “She was always my biggest role model whether it was football, basketball, or baseball.
“I don’t think she ever missed a game.”