Cypress’ Kuzmic Catches Up to Changes


Craig Kuzmic arrived at Cypress College as a right-handed hitting freshman infielder who was quickly switched to the outfield in an effort to find him a place in the lineup.

But he hardly resembles that player these days.

Now, he’s a switch-hitting catcher on an incredible hot streak on a second-place Cypress team that’s won eight of its past nine conference games.

Cypress Coach Scott Pickler usually isn’t in favor of having players learn to hit from a new side of the plate and has allowed only a few to do so.


The first was infielder Jason Bates, who is a member of the Colorado Rookies, and another was shortstop Augie Ojeda, who played in the Olympics last summer and is currently in the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league system.

Kuzmic turned to the left side during the summer and continued in the fall until he seriously hurt his ankle trying to avoid a tag at first base. He missed nearly three months because of the injury and was left with about six weeks to get comfortable from the left side of the plate, as well as behind it.

Kuzmic has had little trouble adjusting to hitting left-handed and would rather bat from that side than his natural right side because most breaking pitches are moving into him instead of away.

He has hit above .300 all season but his average has really climbed in the last six games. In that period, Kuzmic is 19 for 27 and has raised his average average 65 points to .421, which is fourth best in the Orange Empire Conference. He has 16 doubles, two triples, six home runs and is second on the team with 43 runs batted in. Third baseman Randy Case has 44.

Kuzmic recently got a new set of contact lenses but another adjustment, he said, made a bigger difference.

Since the start of the season, Kuzmic had been crouching down bit by bit in his batting stance.


“I was low,” he said. “I was like Ricky Henderson low.”

Pickler asked Kuzmic to try standing up more in an effort to see the ball better, and the results have been impressive. “I just feel more balanced now,” Kuzmic said.

Kuzmic isn’t feeling as comfortable behind the plate catching, but that is coming along thanks mostly to his work with assistant coach Bill Pinkham.

Kuzmic wanted to make the move to catcher to increase his chances of getting drafted or earning a scholarship to a four-year college.

Ryan Zeber, who was a standout catcher from Foothill High, figured to do much of the catching for Cypress but he signed with Toronto the Saturday before classes started in mid-August.

Pickler said the plan was for Zeber to be the primary catcher and for Kuzmic to spend the season learning the position, but things have worked out fine this way.

“[Kuzmic] being able to make the transition has been the key to our season,” Pickler said. “He gets a lot of the credit. He’s a real field rat and you have to be to make those kind of changes. For every hour he put in hitting right-handed, he has to put in two left-handed to learn it. He just loves to play the game.”