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Former Grand Forks Central standout released from Washington Nationals minor-league team

For Alex Kreis, it started out as just another morning in the Washington Nationals' minor-league spring training camp. He was sitting by his clubhouse locker, getting ready to read a newspaper. Kreis was scheduled to pitch on that late-March day.

Alex Kreis

For Alex Kreis, it started out as just another morning in the Washington Nationals' minor-league spring training camp. He was sitting by his clubhouse locker, getting ready to read a newspaper. Kreis was scheduled to pitch on that late-March day.

That is, until he was called into an office to meet with people in the Nationals' organization.

"I was getting dressed and a pitching coach said, 'Hey, Kreis, come here, the guys want to see you,' '' said Kreis, the former Grand Forks Central High School and GF Royals American Legion baseball standout. "I was due to pitch; I just thought something had changed. But you could tell something was up.

"They said I was released. They said it was a tough decision. I thanked them for the opportunity and we shook hands.''

And so a new chapter has begun for the 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, a 2007 Central graduate.

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Kreis is now training in Jamestown, where he was a standout pitcher at Jamestown College. He's no longer in organized baseball. Instead, Kreis has signed a contract and is preparing to play for the Rockland Boulders out of Pomona, N.Y. He'll be in the independent Can-Am League to start the 2013 professional baseball season.

The first order of business for Kreis was to put behind his release by the Nationals, who selected him in the 35th round of baseball's amateur draft in 2011.

The release "was pretty devastating,'' Kreis said. "I felt that I'd had a really good spring training. I'd worked hard in the offseason. I thought this would be a good year for me after I missed some time last season. I didn't anticipate (the release) at all. It was really difficult, the toughest part of my professional career.

"But it's all about attitude and how you handle situations. Life is full of opportunities. When one door closes, another opens.''

Kreis is trying to bounce back from a second professional season that was disrupted by a long bout with pneumonia. He pitched only 19 innings during the 2012 season for the Nationals' low Class A team at Hagerstown, M.D. Kreis was sidelined from early May through most of July.

He spent the winter in Jamestown, working out with the Jimmies' baseball team. After his release, he returned to Jamestown. Kreis reports to the Boulders during the first week of May.

"When I signed, they said they wanted me to be their closer,'' Kreis said. "And I feel that's where I have the best opportunity to succeed and pitch at a higher level.

"It's an exciting role, more of an adrenaline rush when you're out there for the last inning. The last three outs are the best three outs. I think I'm a little more amped up in that situation.''

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Kreis looks at independent ball as a stepping stone, an opportunity to do well and catch the eye of organized baseball.

"I have my college degree,'' Kreis said. "At some point, you have to sit down and see what you want to do with the rest of your life. But I feel I'm still in a position to be successful. If I can put up good numbers, I hope somebody will pick me up by the all-star break.

"I'm still young. I still have the drive and the desire. I think I can pitch at a high level. Baseball is my passion. I'm anxious to get back on the mound.''

DeVillers reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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