Kepler, Desert Dogs deflate Rafters

Twins prospect collects two hits, two RBIs, scores twice

By Josh Jackson / | October 16, 2013 9:44 PM ET

Few doubted that once Max Kepler was healthy and settled into a routine, he'd be a special kind of player. He may be finding his groove in the Arizona Fall League.

The Twins' eighth-ranked prospect doubled, singled, drove in two runs and scored twice on Wednesday night to help Glendale to an 8-6 win over visiting Salt River.

The 20-year-old Germany native logged his second straight two-hit game to raise his AFL average to .333. He missed the first half of the regular season due to an injured left elbow and was limited to 61 games with Class A Cedar Rapids. Kepler batted .237 with 23 extra-base hits and began a transition from the outfield to first base.

"I feel good. My elbow's fine," he said. "Right now, I'm good. I can't wait to start lifting again and getting all strong. I just started playing first in the second half of the season, so I want to get better there. And putting on extra muscle now that I'm a corner guy. I'm trying to stay as fast as I can and put on extra weight."

The left-handed-hitting Kepler grounded out in the second inning against Rays left-hander Grayson Garvin.

"I think I faced about four or five lefties," Kepler said. "[Garvin]'s good, like every other one of those lefties. I had heard a lot of stuff about him and he's got some good stuff, definitely."

Kepler got to the former first-round pick in the fourth when Garvin left a 1-2 pitch over the middle of the plate. He poked it through the right side for a two-run double. Topps' 2012 Appalachian League Player of the Year also lined a single off Rockies prospect Cole White to spark a three-run sixth.

"I was seeing the ball well. I'm getting my knocks and doing what I can," said Kepler, who's also settling in at his new position.

"I thought it would take me a while, but with the ground balls coming at me, I'm good with all that," he said. "I'm still trying to memorize all the situations because there are a lot of them, like all the bunt plays. But I'm definitely feeling good, confident."

Kepler has enjoyed playing alongside fellow Twins prospects Byron Buxton (No. 1) and Eddie Rosario (No. 5), who went hitless Wednesday but have made Kepler more comfortable in Arizona.

"It's awesome. It's like extra support," Kepler said. "If I was the single Twins player here, it would be hard to get into. But it's like family. I love having them around. They're all great players. It makes it easier to adapt."

Dodgers prospect Pratt Maynard hit a two-run homer for the Desert Dogs.

Drew Hayes, a reliever in the Reds system, picked up the win with 1 1/3 hitless innings. He issued a pair of walks and struck out two.

Cardinals No. 7 prospect Stephen Priscotty tripled, doubled, recorded his fourth AFL stolen base, scored twice and drove in a run for the Rafters.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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