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Something to prove

Edgar Melik Stepanyan

LA CRESCENTA -- Stable. Leader. Dominant. Confident. Hard-working.

The characteristics of the most overpowering Crescenta Valley High

baseball pitcher since Jordan Olson have molded Kris Krise into one of

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the top players in the area’s recent history.

A clone of Anaheim Angels outfielder/infielder Darin Erstad, Krise

pressures himself to reach lofty goals.

He has dedicated and reshaped himself in a sport that some thought he

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would never play after he tore ligaments in his right elbow three years

ago while playing football.

Undaunted, he’s remained poised in adverse conditions. He’ll continue

to climb the ladder to help improve his stock the next three years.

Because in three years, Krise -- who will compete in the 26th annual

San Fernando Valley Bernie Milligan All-Star Baseball Game at 3 p.m.

today at Van Nuys Birmingham High -- will again be eligible for the major

league draft.

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During that span, he will have attended UC Irvine on a near full

baseball scholarship and trained to fulfill a dream.

A dream to compete in the major leagues.

A dream to sign a contract.

And a dream to prove doubters wrong.

Those skeptics?

The major league franchises who passed on Krise during the first 1,297

selections of the 2002 first-year player draft, which concluded

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Wednesday.

“The draft doesn’t bug me,” said Krise, who was selected in the 43rd

round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“It gives me more to look forward to. I’ll prove to everyone,

especially the Diamondbacks, that you made a wrong decision.

“I’ll come back twice as strong. I’ll be [selected] in the top four

rounds.”

An intimidating force on the mound, the 6-foot-6 Krise expected to

excel. His sinking fastball blew by batters, his deceptive curveball

fooled them and his slider often caught the edge of the outside corner.

“I expected to be where I am now,” Krise said. “I felt like I was as

good as anybody else out there.”

His competitive nature and quiet leadership helped transform the

Falcons into one of the top teams in x CIF Southern Section Division II.

Krise finished 8-2 and had a 0.88 earned-run average in 2002. He

struck out 90 in 72 innings and allowed 10 runs.

His mentality was that of Kevin Brown, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace who

possesses a fearless, show-no-emotion mind-set.

“I’m not a John Rocker, aggressive kind of guy, Krise said. “At the

same time, I’m going to do what it takes to get you out. When I’m on the

field, I try to show no expression. It’s just the way I come out.

“When I pitch a complete game and have 15 [strikeouts], it’s the same

way I look if I lose a championship game.

“You can’t tell if I won or lost.”

With a team filled with underclassmen, sharing the Pacific League

title and garnering a No. 1 seed for the playoffs might have been

sufficient.

Not so for Krise.

“I pressure myself to do better,” the 18-year-old right-hander said.

He sometimes felt that his teammates took a loss as just another loss.

Krise, on the other hand, would boil inside when his defense made a

mistake or CV’s offense failed to produce.

After a devastating playoff defeat to Camarillo in 2000, Krise touched

up on his tools with pitching coach Darrin Beer during the offseason and

lived up to his potential during the Falcons’ run to the quarterfinals in

2001 and 2002.

The scary part is Krise will progress into a hurler with a deeper

arsenal of pitches, making him more effective.

UC Irvine Coach John Savage was a pitching coach at USC and will work

closely with his young protege to help a young Anteater squad compete for

a Big West Conference championship.

And to help Krise fulfill a dream.


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