Serra catcher Kugler turned himself into top hitter
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Dylan Kugler wasn't the most physically imposing player when he went out for baseball at Serra Catholic, but a lot has changed in the last three years.
“He's probably one of the hardest workers I ever had at Serra,” coach Brian Dzurenda said. “He came in as a small, undersized kid that went through a lot of private agility training and just developed into a fine physical specimen, put in all the time that people don't see and became one of the best hitters in the WPIAL.”
This season Kugler wasn't just one of the best; he was the best. The senior catcher and 2013 Daily News Baseball Player of the Year led the WPIAL in hitting with a .610 average and helped the Eagles to a 16-1 regular-season record and the No. 1 seed in the Class A playoffs. The Eagles (18-3) reached the WPIAL semifinals, losing to Western Beaver, and fell to California in the third-place consolation game.
“I just really thought about all the seasons I had previously and thought of better ways to approach the plate and prepared myself in the offseason for my senior year,” Kugler said. “I also think that catching is great for a hitter because you can see a two-seam or a four-seam fastball, or any type of pitch, and you'll know the umpire's strike zone so you know where to look for and hit the ball.”
Kugler showed he had a good idea what to do at the plate long before the start of this season. His signature high school moment came two years earlier in University Park.
During the 2011 state championship game against Reading Central Catholic, Kugler broke open a 1-0 game with an opposite-field RBI single in the top of the fifth that helped the Eagles to a 4-0 victory and their first PIAA Class A title.
“Not everyone in high school gets to experience a state championship, and I happened to be one of those lucky players that actually won,” Kugler said.
“In that state championship, he got the hit that broke Reading Central Catholic's back,” Dzurenda said. “He took the ball to right on an outside pitch, and I just remember him vividly standing at first base and smiling as well.”
Not only has Kugler excelled as a hitter over the last four years, he's also become a defensive standout who has developed a knack for working with Serra Catholic's pitchers. In addition, he's improved his arm strength and threw out more that 50 percent of would-be base stealers this season.
“You adjust to different pitchers and go by the way they work and how they approach the mound, how they like their pitches and the way they pitch. You have to figure out if they're having an off-day with their curveball or fastball, you have to figure it out before something bad happens,” Kugler said. “You just have to understand the pitcher like the pitcher understands the catcher.”
Even with all the improvements in his game, Kugler has another level to reach when he plays next season at St. Vincent.
“I think he needs to continue what he's done in the past, keeping his body in great shape and, he's a little bit of an undersized kid, but there's not an ounce of body fat on him,” Dzurenda said. “He just needs to devote himself to the strength and conditioning program and keep developing as a catcher.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates acquire pitcher Blanton from Royals for cash
- Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
- Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
- McCutchen, Pirates cruise to interleague victory over Twins
- Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
- Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
- Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
- Pirates notebook: Melancon bails out Watson with extended outing
- Steelers’ Bell unsure why NFL reduced his suspension
- West Liberty pitcher hones skills in South
- Gameday: Pirates at Reds, July 30, 2015