MLB Prospects: From Pre-Med To Preseason, Red Sox Sign Harvard Grad Matt Kramer

Patrick LanguzziContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2011

Matt Kramer in the Bean Pot tournament at Boston's Fenway Park
Matt Kramer in the Bean Pot tournament at Boston's Fenway Park

Matt Kramer, a 2008 graduate of Harvard University, should be entering his second year of medical school right now. Instead, he's on his way to Ft. Myers Florida for spring training with the Boston Red Sox. Ironically, the same team that beat his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

Kramer was a standout for the Division I Ivy league Harvard Crimson as a preferred walk-on, but was over looked in the MLB draft after several invited tryouts to various major league teams such as the Royals, Angels and Cardinals did not materialize.

After graduating from Harvard in June of '08, he decided to take a year off from academics and pursue applying to medical school, but wanted to continue playing baseball as he searched. After he took the time writing to almost every single team manager in the Independent league in search of a roster opening, he caught on as a backup catcher with the Harlingen White Wings of the United League.

After only 8 games with Harlingen, his contract was purchased by the Atlanta Braves. Kramer spent the entire 2009 and part of the 2010 season in the Braves organization before joining Sioux City of the American Association on July 6th of 2010. Last season with Sioux City, Kramer batted .346 with three home runs, five doubles, 18 hits and seven RBI's in just 20 games.

Kramer, a 24-year-old, 6' 3" 240 pound catcher and first baseman was signed by the Boston Red Sox on February 15th after having a number of workouts with the team beginning last October.

Kramer was in Ft. Myers last week for an invited tryout with Ben Crockett (Assistant Director of Player Development) and Harvard Alum, as well as Jarred Porter (Assistant Director of Professional Scouting).

Kramer threw so well that the Red Sox decided to make a move and signed him for the rights to 3 years. 

Jarred Porter was one of the people responsible for signing Cinderella story Daniel Nava to the Red Sox from the Independent league. Nava made a name for himself when in his first major league at bat, drove the first pitch he saw into the right field stands at Fenway Park for a grand slam.  

Although a catcher by trade, the Red Sox plan to convert Kramer into a pitcher after he touched 86 on the gun with throws down to second base. When asked to throw off the mound, Kramer consistently threw 93-94 and touched 95 on his fastball with an 87 mph slider. 

I had the unique opportunity to speak with Matt Kramer while training at Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. Cressey Performance is a high-performance training facility designed by athletes for athletes with an elite baseball development program and have catered to the likes of Red Sox superstars such as Kevin Youkilis and Curt Schilling. 

Kramer has been training at Cressey Performance since January of 2009. Ironically, he was also working as an intern at Cressey while taking on additional anatomy and physiology classes when the Red Sox came calling last fall.

Once the Red Sox expressed an interest in the possibility of him pitching, he began working with Cressey pitching coach Matt Blake and Eric Cressey to help design a personal training regimen specific to his needs. In 4 months of working with them, Kramer was able to increase his velocity from 91 to 95 mph. 

When I asked him what his thoughts were on the impact training at Cressey has had on his progress, he replied, "this is one of the best things that's ever happened to me, being with Cressey Performance". 

When speaking to this young man about the possibility of playing professional baseball for the Boston Red Sox he replied, "it looks like med school's going to have to wait, opportunities of this nature don't come around very often and I'm excited at the prospect of making a dream come true."

I know one thing, no matter what Matt Kramer decides he wants to do in life, he's sure to be successful at it. He's a great kid with a good education and has a great attitude to go along with it!