The San Diego Padres, an organization that prides itself on not only great athletes but well-rounded individuals, drafted just that in the 10th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft with catcher Robert Kral. No exception to the Padres' long line of upstanding male athletes, Kral is not only an extraordinarily consistent player, but is also truly inspiring for those whom he plays in front of nightly.
When discussing baseball with Kral, his even keel and love for the game are apparent. He attributes his found success and consistency to his "family and friends," saying, "the support system and motivation [he has] gotten from the close people in [his] life has been unbelievable". He goes on to explain that his father played an instrumental role in his life. When asked who he felt was the most inspiring individual he has had the privilege to work with thus far in his career he states, "I definitely would have to say in regards to baseball it would be my father. Both my parents have been huge inspirations to me with both baseball and life. But there was never a time my dad couldn't help me out with the game or be there for me... there would be nights he would be throwing me batting practice in the cages until midnight. I've come to see how loving and awesome that was". In fact, Kral goes on to explain that his father was the one that introduced him to the game of baseball, even saying that "it was always a passion of his [father's] and [his father] probably had a wiffle ball bat in [his] crib when [he] was a baby." A family's love for the game indeed!
Kral's humble nature is made obvious, as he explains that he likes to live by the mottos, "keep it simple" and "embrace every day and situation and live it to the fullest," which are two great outlooks to have when living the life of a minor league baseball player. It's a career full of sacrifices and transitions that players willingly make in order to realize their dreams.
Kral, in the last several years of playing within the Padres organization, has shown his consistency at every level of play. Collectively each year Kral's ending batting average nears the magic number of .300, and his OPS nears .900 since the year of his draft. When asking Kral what he feels is the most challenging aspect of his career, he states, "staying consistent. Baseball is such a long season that you can't let yourself get too high or too low. Staying consistent and routine with everything you do while preparing yourself day in and day out to compete your highest level." Well 'stay consistent' he does. Not to mention Kral's most recent achievement, being a part of the 2013 Texas League Championship winning team: our AA affiliate, the San Antonio Missions.
When discussing his affiliate, and what he enjoys most about the Padres organization, he lights up and exclaims, "Just everything about it... playing with the Padres, meeting all these different people, seeing different parts of the country, and playing for a great organization like the Padres has been amazing." We are certainly glad to have such an inspiring individual within the organization.
Briefly discussing what he's doing to prepare himself for spring training and the 2014 season, he says that he's "letting [himself] get away from the game for a few weeks." He feels like that "is a very positive thing. [Letting himself] unwind and relax from the grind of the season. And after that, it's back to weight lifting, running, hitting, etc. to get [himself] prepared." When discussing the excitement of spring training and what he looks forward to the most he exclaims, "just being at the field again and all that comes with it. Seeing all my friends from the organization and getting out there and playing. And especially the anxiousness leading up to the season."
In closing Kral states, "I'm thankful for any fans that come out to the ballpark to watch us play. When there is a great fan base it makes the game that much more exciting to compete in, and I know that us players enjoy them being there just as much as they hopefully enjoy watching us."
Robert Kral is a player to look out for on the horizon of up-and-coming Petco Park regulars and most definitely one to keep an eye on in the 2014 season for any avid Padres fan.