After a very good junior season where he posted a 7-3 record as a starter with a 2.89 ERA, Oregon’s Alex Keudell has become the leader of the UO pitching staff. Like Tyler Anderson did for the past couple of years, AK47 (his initials plus his uniform number) starts the first game of the series against all of Oregon’s Pac-12 opponents.
So far so good, as Alex Keudell pitched seven strong innings in the Ducks’ conference home opener against Utah. Keudell scattered five hits and one walk and struck out five Utes. The 6-3 right-hander from Jesuit High School, also picked off a pair of runners to help his own cause in the win.
His next outing was superb, arguably one of the top two of his Duck career, as last Saturday he held No. 14 Arizona State to just four hits, and hurled a complete game shutout. Keudell evened this season’s record to 3-3 with the win over the Sun Devils. It was the 15th win of his Oregon career.
Q AND A WITH ALEX KEUDELL:
DI: Where did you get the name AK47?
AK: My coach in high school called me that, and I decided once I went to college I decided to try the jersey out. I wore 17 in high school. I used to be able to throw harder, but not anymore. I’m getting too old for this. I’vc dropped my arm angle a little bit to get more movement. It helped me last year I know, even though I wasn’t throwing as hard, I got better results.
DI: Why did you decide to be a Duck?
AK: I could have gone to Hawaii or Kansas State…
DI: You gave up Hawaii?
AK: (laughs) Yea, gave up Hawaii for the snow. But I wanted to stay close to home, and when this opportunity presented itself, I decided to take advantage of it. I have no regrets at all. It has been great for me. I enjoyed all my four years here.
DI: Please run down your four years…
AK: The first we won 14 games. We actually got off to a pretty decent start, and then once the Pac-10 came on everything fell apart. Personally, I only threw one game my freshman year. Once they scored a run, we thought it was over basically. We had no confidence. Then year two came around, and we wanted to go out and prove we’re not just a program that gets walked over, and we made a Regional. That was a huge improvement from 14 to 42 wins.
That year I started out believing I was starting a four-game series and I started the Pac-10, then I was struggling a little bit, but it was good. I was fine with it.
Last year, personally I was happy with my results, but as far as my team, I wasn’t happy we lost 26 games . Going into the season we were a top 10 team, but not making the postseason was a big disappointment for us.
DI: So you turned the corner some your junior year. What did you learn?
AK: I think just believing in yourself. Another big thing is trusting your stuff, trusting your work. That’s what I always try to do and (coach) Checketts really helped me gain confidence in myself. I was happy with how he pushed all the guys last year. We were throwing pretty good.
DI: What is your stuff?
AK: I’ve got a fastball. It’s probably 87-89 (miles per hour). I try to rely on my movement and my sink. Then I have a cutter, slider and changeup. The cutter is probably my best pitch. I can’t throw it too much or hitters will catch on to it. I have to mix it up.
DI: What have you learned about pitching?
AK: I think I’ve learned, just the way to know your strengths, and pitch to your strength. I think that’s the biggest thing. Not necessarily pitch to the hitter’s weaknesses, but your strengths and rely on your abilities to get the batter out. That’s what I think.
DI: How is it for you changing from pitching on Fridays instead of Sundays?
AK: I don’t know if I would say I’ve made any mental changes. I’ve just tried to step up for my team, and show that I can lead the pitching staff, and I do have the ability to go out there and throw good games on Friday night. That’s the biggest thing I think.
The only thing that is different is I haven’t been able to see how the hitters react. Last year I was able to see how Tyler (Anderson) threw to them, and how Madsen threw to them and I could see their weaknesses a little bit. I think pitching Friday and not knowing how they swing and what their ins and outs are is a little different.
I just try to stick to my routine every week. I think the biggest thing is to believe in your abilities and trust in your stuff and your work, that you can go out there and throw well.
DI: How tough is the Pac-12?
AK: The Pac-12 is real tough. It’s going to be a battle all the way through… Stanford, Arizona State, Utah took two from USC who was playing great this year. I think every series will be a battle.
DI: What are your personal goals?
AK: Obviously, I want to get drafted again, but that’s like in the back of my mind right now. I want to get to the postseason. That’s the most important thing right now, but I take it day by day. As far as personal goals: just go out there and win. That’s all I care about, is winning.
DI: OK, it’s a 3-2 count, bases loaded in the ninth. What pitch do you go to?
AK: It depends. If I had to pick one right now without knowing the situation or the hitter, I’d probably say my cutter. It all depends on what I threw to the hitter earlier in the at-bat.
DI: Who calls your pitches?
AK: Coach Horton calls the pitches, but if I feel comfortable throwing another pitch, I can wipe to another, but I’d say 90 percent of the time it’s coach Horton and I trust him to call the pitches. He does a good job.
COACH HORTON ON AK:
“Alex is one of those guys you have to tug the ball away from him even if his pitches are getting up there in the pitch count. He wants to finish what he starts. He’s 100 percent healthy. It’s a tough road to assume going from a Sunday guy which he has been for two or three years to a Friday guy. That presents different challenges. You’re facing the other team’s Friday guy, which means if you have any chinks in the armor, so to speak, there’s not a lot of room for error on Friday.
Alex has done his job, we just haven’t been able to crack the Friday night starter that we’re going against, and that’s the reason his record looks like it is.”
2010 Pac-10 All-Academic Honorable Mention
In 10 appearances and four starts for the Cotuit Kettleers (16-25) of the Cape Cod League, finished the summer with a 2-2 record and 3.03 ERA…added one save, and in 38 and 2/3 innings, struck out 30 batters.
2011 MLB Draft
Selected in the 38th round (1,168 overall) by the Minnesota Twins.
AS A JUNIOR | 2011
In his first season as a full-time starter, posted a 7-3 record and 2.89 ERA while striking out 71 and walking just 24 in 90 and 1/3 innings on the mound…pitched in three combined shutouts and tossed one complete came…held opposing batters to a .260 clip…with runners on, held opponents to a .222 clip…started nine Pac-10 games, and sported a 3-1 record and 3.48 ERA…recorded eight quality starts…season highlights included falling just one out shy of tossing a complete game shutout as the Ducks swept their first Pac-10 series since the program was reinstated in 2009 with a 6-0 victory over No. 6 Oregon State (05/29). Held the Beavers to just two hits, and retired the final 13 batters he faced until exiting the game with two outs in the top of the ninth as senior Kellen Moen was brought out to finish off the game on senior day…on March 23 tossed a 9-inning complete game, holding 2011 West Coast Conference champion San Francisco to one unearned run on four hits while striking out a career-best 11…tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six in a 9-0 victory over Washington (04/10)…earned the win in a series-clinching 7-3 victory over No. 23 Arizona, holding the Wildcats to three runs on seven hits in five and 2/3 innings (04/23)…tossed seven and 1/3 shutout innings of baseball, allowing just six hits as UO defeated Gonzaga 9-0 (05/18).
AS A SOPHOMORE | 2010
Began the season as a starter, but pitched mostly in relief late in the season…in 23 appearances and 11 starts, sported a 4.14 ERA and 5-6 record in 78 and 1/3 innings on the mound…second on the staff with 78 strikeouts…struck out 29 batters looking (T-8th Pac-10)…claimed his first win of the season tossing 3 and 1/3 innings of relief at Long Beach State, allowing one run on three hits while striking out two in the Ducks’ 6-2 victory (2/20)…improved to 2-0 after tossing seven innings and holding Washington to two runs on six hits and three walks in the Ducks home-opening 6-2 victory (3/2)…improved to 3-0 after allowing two runs – one earned – in 6 and 1/3 innings of work, striking out four and issuing no walks in an 8-3 win at Fresno State (3/7)…struck out seven, but took his first loss of the season after allowing five runs – all unearned – in 5 and 2/3 innings of work in a 6-4 loss to Seattle (3/14)…shut down Nevada for seven innings, holding the Wolf Pack scoreless on four hits while striking out a career-high nine in a 5-0 victory (3/21)…held then No. 22 Stanford to two runs over six innings while fanning five in a 2-1 loss (4/10)…threw 4 and 1/3 innings of one-run relief, allowing two hits and issuing one walk while striking out three in Oregon’s 17-7 victory over East Tennessee State (5/16).
Pitched for the Glacier Pilots (27-24) of the Alaska Baseball League…finished the summer with a 5.79 ERA and an 0-2 record in nine starts.
AS A FRESHMAN | 2009
A midweek starter and reliever for Oregon…also made three Sunday starts for the Ducks…finished the year with an 0-6 record and a 5.15 ERA in 15 appearances and six starts…tossed a total of 43 and 2/3 innings, recording 24 strikeouts and holding batters to a .252 average…with two outs, held opponents to a meager .104 (5-for-48) clip…in his last start of the season, tossed his first complete game of the year, surrendering just two runs on four hits while striking out a career-high six in a 2-0 loss at Oregon State (5/19)…made his first start of the season at Washington (3/4)…in his second career start, tossed three innings of one-run baseball, helping lead Oregon to a 6-4 victory over Sacramento State (3/25)…in his best relief outing of the season, tossed the final 4 and 1/3 innings against Oregon State (3/29), holding the Beavers scoreless while allowing only three base runners…made his first weekend start at USC (4/11)…also made Sunday starts at California (4/19) and vs. Washington (4/24).
A 2008 graduate of Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore…lettered three seasons for head coach Don Lovell…helped the Crusaders to a Metro League championship in 2007…was named first team all-state during 2008…during the summer of 2008 played with the Northwest Stars…also played with Baseball Northwest.
Born in Portland, Ore…majoring in Political Science…parents are Barry and Colleen Keudell…has one brother, Jake, and one sister, Maddie.