(Photo credit to Luke Ramirez)
Not even Blair Field, known as a graveyard for well-hit fly balls, could contain one of the West Coast’s hottest hitters in the midst of a breakout season. UCLA sophomore second baseman Chase Strumpf earned Pac-12 player of the week honors after feasting at the plate from April 2-8. In four games, he hit .667 (8-for-12) with two home runs, eight RBIs and eight runs scored, helping the No. 17 Bruins to a gritty series win over No. 3 Stanford. He wasn’t satisfied and belted his third home run in his last three games during a midweek game against Long Beach State.
“I’m seeing the ball so well right now,” Strumpf said after going 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs against the Dirtbags Tuesday. “Being aggressive is also really a key part of me being successful at the plate.”
Standing at 6-foot-1, Strumpf has a great frame to continue to fill out. He’s already got a strong and athletic build weighing in at 215 pounds, but shows quick and nimble footwork around the bag coupled with quickness on the base paths.
It’s at the plate where Strumpf has made a name for himself in 2018. He features very quick hands with good bat-to-ball ability and lets the baseball get deep into the hitting zone. On top of that, Strumpf showed experienced pitch selection which makes him even more of an on-base threat out of the third spot in the Bruin’s lineup. Along with the home run on Tuesday, he laced a fastball on the outer third back up the middle with ease for a two-out single.
“He’s clearly turned a corner offensively this season,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “I have to believe he’s one of the more offensive second baseman in the country.”
Strumpf is a product of JSerra Catholic High School (San Juan Capistrano, California) and started 54 games at second base as a freshman in 2017. He’s already met or surpassed his first year totals in runs (24), home runs (8) and RBIs (32) and the Bruins will continue to rely on him as they attempt to keep up with Oregon State and Stanford. While the power will continue to play, Strumpf isn’t so wrapped up in the numbers.
“If home runs happen, they happen,” he said. “I’m always just looking to produce for the team and help get the offense rolling.”
Following the 2018 season, Strumpf will report to the Cotuit Kettleers, who have won the Cape Cod Championship a record 16 times. He’s not stranger to performing over summer after making the Northwoods League All Star team batting .355 with six home runs and 32 RBIs.
Before he gets into that, he and the rest of the Bruins may have a statement to make and currently sit in the top spot of conference at 8-4.
“He can launch the ball a little bit,” Savage said. “There’s some loft power and the ball does jump off of his bat. He could be an interesting guy down the road as potentially a very offensive infielder.”
The ceiling is very high for the California kid who looks to continue his hot streak into Salt Lake City for a three game series with Utah. Already off to a good start this after Tuesday’s results, he’s ready to have his name called for a few more player of the week honors.