It didn’t take Alex Krupa long to pick up on one of the unwritten rules of Iowa Western Community College baseball: Yesterday doesn’t matter.
A 19th-round selection by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2013 MLB Draft in June, the four-year starter at Greenwood Community High School hit campus with impressive credentials similar to his new teammates.
Iowa Western’s sophomore players implied to newcomers how egos must be checked at the door. Or better yet, left at home.
“I like it here a lot. There were jitters at first being a new school and all,” said Krupa, who shares a dorm room with sophomore teammate Jordan Schlehuber.
“It took me about two weeks to get comfortable, and those are long weeks.”
Iowa Western takes the field with tradition on its side, having made 14 Junior College World Series appearances since 1975. The Reivers celebrated national championships in 2010 and 2012.
Coach Marc Rardin’s current group takes a No. 14 ranking into Saturday’s doubleheader at Indian Hills Community College. Iowa Western (37-8) is on a 10-game winning streak during which it has outscored its opponents 112-33.
Krupa has done his part by going 19 of 36 (.528) at the plate with 17 runs and 11 of his team-leading 15 steals during the past 12 games alone. He’s batting .384 for the season with four doubles and 17 runs batted in.
In other words, he’s the same disruptive force he proved to be as a Greenwood senior, when he hit .463, scored 53 runs, swiped 38 bases and belted five home runs on his way to being named the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year in 2013.
“I’m not really hitting for power here. The (outfield) fences are massive, and our fence at Greenwood was really short,” said Krupa, who bats left-handed. “But I feel like my swing is better now.”
Some of this can be attributed to sheer repetition as Iowa Western also plays a fall baseball season.
It’s here Krupa, a center fielder his final two seasons of high school after starting at Greenwood as a second baseman, made the move to left.
“The fall season is good for you because you get better. You have to take care of your body because there is a lot of wear and tear,” Krupa said. “But playing left is different. Just the ball coming off the bat, but in the fall I adjusted to it.”
Krupa last spring played at 165 pounds. His 5-foot-9 frame now carries 180 pounds, though Krupa’s version of the freshman 15 is from work in the weightroom.
The additional weight has not affected his speed running the bases. Only once this season has Krupa been caught stealing — during a 12-4 victory against Indian Hills on April 5 — though he more than atoned by going 4 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs and a run scored.
Iowa Western’s most recent outing on April 19 produced a 13-4 win at Marshalltown Community College. Krupa in that game delivered three hits, making it the ninth time this season he’s come through with two or more hits.
Iowa Western’s reputation for producing players who go on to play for Division I and Division II collegiate programs is well-known in baseball circles. Last year’s team alone included 15 such individuals, including ones currently playing at Illinois, Louisville and Notre Dame.
Maybe this is the path Krupa ultimately takes. Or maybe he tests the MLB waters once again following his sophomore season at Iowa Western.
These are the early innings of Krupa’s post-high school baseball career. For the time being, he just wants to continue winning and having fun with new friends.
“Unless something happens I’m staying out here for two years,” Krupa said. “I still have a lot of work to do.”