Transitioning from college baseball and its aluminum bats to the Alaska Baseball League and its wood bats can be difficult for players.
Not for Mark Krueger.
The Anchorage Bucs first baseman was leading the league in two categories with a .491 batting average and 20 RBIs as of Wednesday.
Krueger's start to the ABL season is impressive -- especially for someone playing in his first wood-bat league.
"I've adjusted better than I thought I would," Krueger said Tuesday at Mulcahy Stadium after the Bucs' 8-0 win over the Peninsula Oilers.
Krueger, 21, attributed his success to Bucs coach Tony Cappuccilli as well as to his teammates and opposing squads.
"Everyone is top-notch," he said. "It's been a huge learning experience for me."
In 55 at-bats, Krueger has 27 hits, including four doubles, three triples and two home runs. He has struck out seven times, drawn six walks and scored 12 runs in 15 games.
On Wednesday, Krueger's 13-game hitting streak ended against the Oilers in the second game of a doubleheader. His only other hitless game came in his ABL debut June 8.
Krueger has RBIs in 10 games and multi-hit performances in nine -- he has racked up three hits in three games and had four hits including a grand slam June 12 against the San Francisco Seals.
"He's gotten off to a start like I've never seen," said Cappuccilli, now in his fourth year coaching the Bucs.
Krueger is coming off an impressive sophomore season at Utah Valley University, where he earned a spot on the All-Western Athletic Conference first team. In 57 games, Krueger compiled a .306 batting average with 20 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs.
Cappuccilli got a preview of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Krueger in March when Utah Valley played at UNLV, where Cappuccilli is an assistant coach.
"He's constantly working," Cappuccilli said. "At-bat to at-bat, pitch to pitch."
Raised by parents who are both big sports fans in Draper, Utah, which is about 24 miles from where he attends college, Krueger also played football and basketball in high school. He started playing baseball as soon as he could hold a bat.
"I fell in love with the game when I was little," Krueger said.
In the fall, Krueger will enter his junior year of college. He's studying business management but hopes to pursue baseball after graduating.
"That's what the dream is," he said.
Reach Mike Nesper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By MIKE NESPER