BY STEVE KRAH
Jeremy Kehrt is taking the lessons he learned as a player and using them to evaluate baseball talent as an area scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kehrt, an Avon, Ind., resident, is heading into his third year with the D-backs after concluding his own professional career. As a right-handed pitcher, he competed for 10 seasons in the minors with the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations.
Selected in the 47th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by Boston out of the University of Southern Indiana, Kehrt pitched in the Red Sox system into 2014 and in the Dodgers chain 2014-16, going 45-57 with a 4.55 earned run average over 222 games (128 as a starter). He hurled at the Triple-A level in 2011-14 and 2016.
He was the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs Citizen of the Year in 2011. That same year he was 2-1 in 10 games with Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall League.
He pitched in the Double-A Texas League All-Star Game in 2015. He was with Laguna of the Triple-A Mexican League and Trois-Rivieres of the independent Can-Am League in 2017.
Kehrt also played winter ball in Puerto Rico with Mayaguez in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and Caguas in 2015-16, Venezuela with Zulia in 2014-15 and Magallanes in 2016-17 and Mexico in 2016-1 with Mazatlan.
In his role as scout, he estimates that he drives 50,000 miles a year while checking on high school and college players in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
“I commute as much as possible,” says Kehrt, who tries to make it back to wife Meagen, 4-year-old son Maddux and 2-year-old daughter Belamy immediately after most scouting trips. “Fall is more organized with scrimmages and scout days and these new exhibition games. Summers and falls have more showcase environments. Spring can be crazy and you can go from Michigan to Kentucky in one day to see players.”
Kehrt traveled to the University of Louisville Wednesday, Oct. 16 to see action in the annual Pizza Bowl fall intrasquad series.
Whenever the weather, schedule changes and traffic allows, Kehrt tries to arrive at the field as early as possible to observe players during warm-ups. He sees how they interact with teammates and coaches.
“I want to get the whole picture of what the player is,” says Kehrt, 32. “I talk to the people in their life. I try to get multiple looks.”
Drey Jameson, a hard-throwing right-hander who signed with the Diamondbacks in the first round out of Ball State University, was tracked by Kehrt.
Kehrt, 33, saw 2019 Southport (Ind.) High School graduate Avery Short several times before Arizona selected the left-handed pitcher in the 12th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
“For a high school kid, he was able to throw an insane amount of strikes,” says Kehrt of Short. “He had an advanced (baseball) IQ for a 17- or 18-year-old kid.”
Short pitched for Team USA in the U18 Pan-American Championships in Panama in the fall of 2018. The southpaw was reportedly inked by the D-backs for a $922,500 signing bonus.
“They get experience and get used to grinding during the summers (in travel ball),” says Kehrt. “They have fun during their senior years. It’s one last hurrah and they can showcase their stuff.”
Andrew Saalfrank was chosen by the Diamondbacks in the sixth round of the 2019 draft out of Indiana University. Purdue University catcher Nick Dalesandro (10th round) and Indiana State University right-hander Ethan Larrison (16th round) were taken in 2018.
A 2004 graduate of Plainfield (Ind.) High School, Kehrt played two seasons for Brian Planker and one for Michael Thompson. After playing in the Plainfield Little League and Plainfield Teenage Babe Ruth Baseball League in his younger years, he pitched in a few tournaments with the Indianapolis Bulldogs his 16U summer then spent full summer seasons with the James Hurst-coached travel team as 17U and 18U player.
“(Hurst) gave me the best advice I ever got,” says Kehrt. “He told me to go to college. That’s what he did (left-hander Hurst pitched at Florida Southern College and got into eight games with the 1994 Texas Rangers and hurled in three with the 1995 Indianapolis Indians). “That was a pivotal point in my high school career.”
Off to college to study marketing (he finished his degree in December 2008), Kehrt played at USI for four seasons (2005-08) — the last two with Tracy Archuleta as head coach and Joel Weaver as pitching coach.
“They changed the culture of the team,” says Kehrt of Archuleta and Weaver. “Coach Weaver connected with me on mechanics. He broke it down, made it easy to understand and click in the game.
“I owe a lot to me making a big step to both of those guys.”
Kehrt’s pitching coach for six seasons with Red Sox minor league teams was former big league left-hander Bob Kipper, who spent time with the righty reflecting on the positives and negatives of his outing.
Spending time around major league pitchers in spring training was also instructive to Kehrt.
“I’m a big learn-by-example guy,” says Kehrt. “I’d watch John Lackey during his bullpens and see how his mechanics work.”
With the Dodgers, former big league pitcher Matt Herges was his pitching coach at Double-A and Triple A.
“It was eye-opening how much more I could learn at age 29 and 30,” says Kehrt. “He allowed me to play an extra year.”
Kept busy these days with scouting and family, Kehrt has taught lessons in the past at former big league pitcher Bill Sampen’s Samp’s Hack Shack training facilities.
Jeremy Kehrt, a graduate of Plainfield (Ind.) High School and the University of Indiana, works in the bullpen during his minor league baseball career. He is now an area scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jeremy Kehrt pitched in the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers systems during his baseball-playing career.
The Kehrt family (from left): Jeremy, Maddux, Meagen and Bellamy. Jeremy is an area scout with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Kehrts resides in Avon, Ind.