Kouzmanoff with the San Diego Padres in 2008
|Born: July 25, 1981|
Newport Beach, California
|September 2, 2006, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 22, 2014, for the Texas Rangers|
|Runs batted in||371|
Kevin Kouzmanoff (born July 25, 1981) is an American former professional baseball third baseman and current hitting coach in the Oakland Athletics organization. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers.
Kouzmanoff is the third of only four players in history to hit a grand slam in his first major league at-bat, after Bill Duggleby in 1898 and Jeremy Hermida in 2005, and followed by Daniel Nava in 2010. Both Kouzmanoff and Nava accomplished this feat on the first pitch they saw.
In 2003, he attended the University of Nevada-Reno where as a walk-on he hit .361.
Kouzmanoff made his professional debut later in 2003 with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, hitting .272 with eight home runs and 33 RBI in 206 at-bats. Kouzmanoff also played for the Winchester Royals in Virginia.
In 2004, Kouzmanoff hit 16 home runs, 87 RBI and a .330 average with the Lake County Captains of the South Atlantic League. Bothered by back problems in 2005, he was limited to only 254 at-bats with the Kinston Indians, but still hit .339 with 12 home runs and 58 RBI.
Starting the 2006 season with Double-A Akron, Kouzmanoff flirted with a .400 average before finishing at .389 and being promoted to the Buffalo Bisons in July. He was named the Indians' 2006 Minor League Player of the Year (receiving the "Lou Boudreau Award").
On September 2, 2006, Kouzmanoff became the 23rd major leaguer to hit a home run on his first Major League pitch, the 12th American Leaguer to do so, and the second of 2006 (along with Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals). Kouzmanoff hit a grand slam off of then-Texas Ranger Edinson Vólquez on the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues, the first player in MLB history ever to do so on the first pitch. (The first-pitch slam feat was equalled by Boston Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava on June 12, 2010, at Fenway Park against Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton.)
San Diego Padres
Padres fans were slow to embrace Kouzmanoff at the beginning of the season; Barfield had been popular with fans, and Kouzmanoff endured a slow start. However, he gradually increased his production and fans affectionately began to root "Koooz" when he made plays or got base hits, leading some uninitiated spectators to believe he was being booed.
In 2007, Kouzmanoff was ninth among all NL rookies in RBI (74; behind Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Braun), 7th in home runs (18; behind Braun, Chris Young, Tulowitzki, and Josh Hamilton), hits (133), and extra base hits (50), and tied for 10th in runs (57).
In 2008, he had the worst strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors, 6.04.
In 2009, he set a National League single-season record for third basemen with a .990 fielding percentage, committing three errors in 309 total chances. This led to the Hall of Fame calling him and asking if he would donate his glove to them on which he responded; "I have to pick the glove. They aren't getting my gamer!"
On August 23, 2011 the Colorado Rockies acquired Kouzmanoff for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Following the season, he was outrighted from the 40-man roster and on October 6, he elected free agency.
Kansas City Royals
On January 14, 2012, Kouzmanoff signed a minor league deal that included an invitation to Spring training with the Kansas City Royals. If he made it to the majors, he would have earned $1 million, with up to $300,000 in incentives related to plate appearances.
Kouzmanoff did not make it to the major leagues in 2012, instead splitting his time with Triple-A Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he hit .276/.309/.382 with 2 HR and 46 RBI in 90 games combined.
Kouzmanoff signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers on December 12, 2013. He was called up to the Major Leagues on April 9, 2014, to replace the injured Adrián Beltré. He hit safely in his first 10 games with the Rangers. He was named American League Player of the Week in his first week as a Ranger, batting .345 with eight RBIs, six runs scored, and four doubles. He also had a .690 slugging percentage, which was tied for third in the league. He ultimately appeared in 13 games for the Rangers, hitting .362 on the season, with 2 HR and 10 RBI. He was granted free agency on October 7, 2014.
- ESPN article on Kouzmanoff's first game
- "Game Grand Slam Records" Check
|url=value (help). baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved April 4, 2012.[permanent dead link]
- "Thames meets heroes, hits game-winning homer for Tigers". USA Today. November 29, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- Boos turn into Kooooz PE.com Archived April 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Call it a hunch: the final 2007 NL standings". Sportingnews.com. September 25, 1977. Retrieved July 26, 2012.[permanent dead link]
- "May 18, 2006 Leader article about Kouzmanoff". Akron.com. May 18, 2006. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- "Minor League Player of the Year by Team". The Baseball Cube. Archived from the original on October 16, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "Cabrera, Laffey Receive '07 Honors". Scout.com. November 28, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "Nava hits slam on first pitch he sees in Majors". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- "2008 Major League Baseball Batting Ratios". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- San Diego's Kouzmanoff sets NL record at 3B[dead link]
- "A's Acquire 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff from San Diego". Oakland.athletics.mlb.com. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- "Rockies acquire Kouzmanoff from A's". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- Dierkes, Tim (October 6, 2011). "Kouzmanoff Elects Free Agency". MLBTradeRumors.com. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
- Crasnick, Jerry (January 14, 2012). "Kansas City Royals, Kevin Kouzmanoff agree to minor league deal". ESPN.
- Frisaro, Joe (November 3, 2012). "Marlins sign Kouzmanoff to Minor League deal". MLB.com.
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