BY STEVE KRAH
When Kyler McIntosh followed his brother’s foot steps and went from Columbus, Ind., to Alabama State University baseball it was with the idea he would be a pitcher-only.
Hunter McIntosh, who had been a four-time all-area selection, three-time team captain and two-time team MVP at Columbus North High School (Class of 2012), pitched three seasons for the Hornets (2014-16) and went 14-6 with two saves, a 3.93 earned run average and 152 strikeouts and 69 walks in 151 innings.
Like his brother, Kyler McIntosh was honored as the Baseball Player of the Year for The Republic, the Columbus newspaper.
Righty thrower/swinger Kyler went 8-1 with 1.68 ERA, 60 strikeouts and eight walks in 62 2/3 innings while also hitting .394 with four home runs, five triples, 39 runs batted in and 29 runs scored in his senior season at Columbus North (2021), made the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series as a pitcher and headed for a mound in Montgomery, Ala.
Then McIntosh had a conversation with Alabama State head coach Jose’ Vazquez and his staff.
“I had them watch me swing a little bit and take some ground balls,” says McIntosh. “I was really mainly a pitcher — definitely freshman year — but I had the chance to earn my spot in the lineup.”
In 2022, McIntosh pitched in 17 games (nine starts) and played in 41. He went 4-4 with one save, a 5.78 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 17 walks in 67 innings while also hitting .384 (38-of-99) with three homers, two triples, nine doubles, 22 RBIs and 20 runs. The Hornets went 34-25 overall and 21-8 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and ended the season in the NCAA D-I Knoxville Regional.
This spring, McIntosh has been Alabama State’s starting shortstop when he’s not pitching.
He’s been in 42 games for the Hornets (30-15, 18-3). He is hitting .301 (46-of-153) with four homers, two triples, 10 doubles, 28 RBIs, 38 runs and an .840 OPS (.369 on-base percentage plus .471 slugging average).
On the mound, McIntosh has 11 appearances (eight starts) and is 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA, 35 strikeouts and six walks in 45 1/3 innings.
With all the throwing his does from the bump and in the infield, arm care of McIntosh includes plenty of weighted ball work.
“I get treatment all the time,” says McIntosh. “A couple of days after I pitch I get it scraped out and rubbed out and everything. I just do a lot of recovery. I drink a lot of water.”
McIntosh does not throw bullpens between starts — like many pitchers do.
When it looks like he might be used in relief, he throws flat ground pitches to a teammate instead of taking ground balls between innings.
“I don’t throw off a mound in the bullpen, I just get eight (warm-up) pitches,” says McIntosh. “I have two totally different mindsets when I pitch or play short.
“When I play short, it’s about having fun and keeping my team engaged and locked-in. I’m kind of psycho when I pitch. He flip a switch pretty quickly and focus on keeping me locked-in.”
Not a high-octane hurler (his top velocity is 87 to 89 mph), McIntosh employs a wide variety of pitches — sinker, slider, curveball, change-up and cutter — mostly from a three-quarter arm slot.
“I’ve learned to command them so I don’t get beat up too bad on the mound,” says McIntosh, who works this season with first-year pitching coach Branch Kloess.
Of late, McIntosh has been in the No. 2 hole in the Alabama State batting order. He explains his offensive approach.
“As a freshman, I knew (pitchers) were going to attack me,” says McIntosh. “I went up there and hunted the fastball. The first fastball I got I tried to smash it. This year is kind of the same, but they have a scouting report on me. I get pitched a lot differently then I did last year. If I do get a fastball I try to jump on it. This year it’s thinking fastball and adjusting to off-speed.
“If I see a hanging breaking ball I know I have to go after it.”
McIntosh cherishes his time with Puerto Rico native Vazquez.
“I’ve learned so much Spanish,” says McIntosh. “Playing for him is so enjoyable. I enjoy the coaching staff. It’s definitely fun when we’re winning and we’re doing a good job of that right now.”
Currently on a three-game win streak, Alabama State has three more conference series and two mid-week games prior to the SWAC Championship May 24-28 in Atlanta.
Kyler has a number of mentors. Besides his father, there’s father Dennis, Will Nelson (Hunter’s best friend and the owner of Tipton Lakes Athletic Club in Columbus) and Devin Mann (a Columbus North teammate of Hunter McIntosh who is now at Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization).
“My dad is consistently on my butt to keep working hard,” says McIntosh. “My mother (Lani) definitely keeps me in-line. When I need something I go to her and she helps me out.”
McIntosh works out and takes lessons from Mann in the off-season.
Born in Seymour, Ind., McIntosh grew up in Columbus. He played rec ball in town and a CERA Sports Park & Campground — aka CERALand — then travel ball with the Indiana Bulls, Indiana Outlaws (which became the Canes Midwest).
Kyler played at Columbus North for head coach Ben McDaniel and assistants Mike Bodart (who is now Bull Dogs head coach), Daniel Ayers (who was selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and pitched in the Baltimore Orioles system) and Hunter McIntosh.
McIntosh was with the Canes in the summer of 2020 and in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., in 2021.
Following his freshman year at Alabama State, McIntosh played in seven summer games for the Appalachian League’s Johnson City (Tenn.) Doughboys.
“I was super-tired,” says McIntosh. “My first college season really kicked me in the butt when I didn’t think it would.
“I went home early and tried to rest my body and gain weight. Gaining weight has always been my problem. I’ve always gone out there and grinded games out.
“I’ve always been kind of a scrawny kid.”
At 6-foot-1, 172 pounds, McIntosh anticipates staying in Columbus and working out while trying to pounds to come back to the Hornets a little stronger and healthier.
McIntosh is a Business Management major with a minor in Finance. His father owns a mowing business and is a distributor for Pepperidge Farms and George J. Howe Company and Kyler can see himself getting involved with one of those after graduation.