German national team manager Greg Frady praised the development of two of Germany’s top talents, Donald Lutz and Max Kepler, who will be key in the country’s chances of qualifying for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
“Both are very good players, but they’re young players so their development is going at a very good pace right now,” said Frady at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Regensburg, Germany.
“Both are wonderful players and great guys and I suspect they will get their chance. Since last year, both are maturing. Both are physically stronger. Both swings look great. Their baseball skills look great. But they’re more mature as men. They’re a little more confident. They’re going about their business in a more professional way. And I see their improvement being a very good process.”
Germany start their qualification campaign on September 21 against Czech Republic. The other two teams in the double-elimination competition, which runs from September 20-24, are Canada and Great Britain.
The winner of the four-team group reaches the 2013 World Baseball Classic in March.
Frady said it’s a joy to observe the 19-year-old Kepler, who made headlines as a 16-year-old as he received an 800,000 euro signing bonus from the Minnesota Twins – the largest for a European talent.
“Max is a very special kid – five tools. He’s a beautiful player to watch. All the movements, all the skills, all the tools. He’s certainly a player for the future, no doubt about it,” said Frady.
Lutz meanwhile is farther along in the minor leagues than any other German player as he played last season at Double-A for Cincinnati.
“Donald is a player is a player for the right now. He has big league power and he’s already been seeing some time with those guys in big league training camp and being around them in the Futures Game in the Reds organization and he’s proving himself,” said Frady of the 23-year-old Lutz.
“He hasn’t been playing baseball that long so every year he plays, his instincts get better, his reactions, his timing all continue to improve.”
When asked where he would put the level of baseball in Germany right now, Frady said: “No one knows the answer, but I’ll use this as a gauge. We have some really good guys to come over and join the team for the WBC qualifier from MLB organization and they’ve blended in with the German team that we have. And right now it’s hard to tell who is in pro baseball and who is not in pro baseball. I think that’s a great sign for German baseball that the guys that we have on this team are certainly capable of holding their own with anybody coming over from the U.S. or Canada to play from a professional standpoint.”