Hometown Report

Pro baseball or UCLA, Davis’ Ryan Kreidler will have fun

Davis shortstop Ryan Kreidler makes a throw to first base in the fourth inning at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, California on Friday, May 3, 2013.
Davis shortstop Ryan Kreidler makes a throw to first base in the fourth inning at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, California on Friday, May 3, 2013. jvillegas@sacbee.com

A two-hour rain delay in Berkeley wasn’t going to dampen these spirits.

Not with Ryan Kreidler leading the charge.

Kreidler is a standout senior shortstop for the Davis High School baseball team who provides power at the plate and inspires teammates to compete in any conditions. He is on the radar of many big-league teams entering next month’s draft as a 6-foot-3, 195-pound prospect committed to UCLA on scholarship.

And if there’s fun to be had, Kreidler is at the forefront.

In the Boras Baseball Classic, rain delayed the start of Davis’ 7-4 loss to Mira Costa of Huntington Beach in the championship game on May 7 at Cal’s Evans Diamond. Kreidler and his teammates made the most of the down time.

The ESPN3 production booth captured video of Kreidler stuffing a teammate into the tube of a rolled-up tarp. Then there was a fungo golf game to keep players on both teams loose. Then someone found a chewed-up old football in the right-field bullpen, and Kreidler soon found himself at quarterback, firing a different sort of laser to infielders turned receivers.

Clearly, idle time doesn’t fit into this guy’s schedule.

“Never,” Kreidler said on Thursday afternoon with a laugh. “I’m always busy, doing something.”

Said Davis coach Dan Ariola, “Mostly, you don’t want your kids running around like that (at Cal), but when you see it’s Ryan Kreidler, you think, ‘Oh, it’s OK. We’re in good hands.’ 

Mostly, Kreidler is defined by focus, as his 4.2 GPA suggests. Before the baseball season, he yanked down rebounds and ran the floor as a forward with guard skills on the Blue Devils’ basketball team. College basketball recruiters pulled Kreidler aside after games and raved about his “motor.”

Kreidler is especially fond of baseball. He takes this game personally, including his last outing, which Kreidler feared might be his final one in Blue Devils colors. This was Wednesday, Senior Day, at Davis. The Blue Devils needed a victory over Pleasant Grove to ensure a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff berth.

In the fifth inning of a scoreless game, Kreidler smacked a two-run double off the wall in center. In the sixth, he hit a two-run homer that struck the foul pole in left. Davis won 6-0. The season continues.

“Absolutely, I took it personal,” Kreidler said. “We needed that game. It doesn’t hit you how fast this all goes until a moment like this. We didn’t want it to be our final high school game.”

UCLA coach John Savage attended the game, flying in and out within hours. Major-league scouts and personnel also have stopped by Davis games. Several have visited the Kreidler home to talk shop and signability.

Ariola soaks it all in as a fan of Kreidler and of the game. Ariola bleeds Davis blue, having grown up in the Yolo County town. He played sports at Davis High and has coached at the school for 29 years and taught for 27.

“Ryan’s the whole package, an amazing talent and kid,” Ariola said. “And this is his team. He leads better than any player we’ve had. He has a feel for the team; he’s our leader, and they look up to him. I need a message sent to the entire team, I text Ryan and things get done.”

Ariola paused, then continued: “Ryan’s the best player we’ve ever had here. The defensive plays he makes are incredible. Every game, he does something, and that’s what saves you. I would’ve been heartbroken for Ryan if we didn’t get into the playoffs. He wasn’t going to be denied on Senior Day, and it was memorable.”

Ariola said Davis can “do some damage” in the playoffs. It has before, winning section titles in 2000, 2004 and 2014.

Kreidler was a starter in 2014, but he made a costly slide into second base. His right hand rolled under him, partially tearing two ligaments in his wrist. Kreidler initially didn’t realize the severity of his injury. He gutted out a full summer of travel baseball and played basketball the winter of his junior season.

“My shot was off and on, as it always is, because I’m no Klay Thompson,” Kreidler said. “But in baseball, something felt completely wrong with my wrist. I knew it was bad.”

Kreidler managed one at-bat last season. He had surgery and missed the remainder of the season. It pained him even more to watch his teammates play without him.

This season, healthy and motivated, Kreidler was paramount in helping Davis storm to a school-record 13-0 start. He hit, he fielded, he mentored younger players. He is batting .347 with 21 walks, 26 RBIs, 28 runs, 10 doubles and three home runs.

Ariola saw this coming years ago, when young Kreidler tore up the Davis Little League circuit.

“I knew he was something special when he was 7 years old,” Ariola said. “I told him he was going to be the next Dustin Pedroia (the one-time Woodland High star now with the Boston Red Sox). But he’s not the next Pedroia. He’s the first Ryan Kreidler. You could see even then that this kid just had it.”

Kreidler played basketball because he enjoys the sport, his teammates and the experiences.

“Other sports keep you competitive, keep you in shape,” Kreidler said. “I’ve had Little League kids and their parents ask me how I make time to play two sports. It’s not hard. Just have fun with it.”

The section baseball finals are June 3-4 at Pacific in Stockton. Kreidler graduates on June 10, right about the time Rounds 3-10 of the major-league draft are unfolding.

“It’ll be a killer few days,” Kreidler said excitedly. “It’d be an honor just to get drafted, if I do. If I sign, then I start living the dream. If I go to UCLA, that’s a dream. It’s all a win-win.”

Kreidler said a dream job outside of baseball is anything in sports advertising, marketing and public relations. Perhaps devising an ad campaign for a shoe brand or sports drink.

“I speak the language of athletics,” Kreidler said.

And of fun.

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