Working Hard To Join Youth Movement
Bob Keppel stands on the top step of the Brooklyn Cyclones dugout before a home game against the New Jersey Cardinals. Last Sunday’s game against the Cardinals was to be his last as a Cyclone as Keppel was promoted to Double A Binghamton.
The 6’5 right-handed pitcher signs autographs before the game and one fan asks Keppel of the significance of the #30 that has been etched into his cap. He graciously answers the fan’s question and goes back to signing autographs.
The #30 refers to Jim Keppel, Bob’s 23-year-old cousin who played football at Yale. Jim recently died of a seizure in his heart. Though Bob does not fully understand as of yet the doctor’s final diagnosis, he regarded Jim as a brother when they were growing up in Chesterfield, Missouri, a suburb in St. Louis.
"Our families were real close and our cousins always used to come over and we used to watch Monday Night football games together", said Kepple. "He’s like my brother because I had three sisters growing up. My cousin Steve, Shawn and Jim were like brothers to me. He attended my first game in New York and I was glad he was here."
At Desmet Jesuit H.S., Kepple was not only a star in baseball but basketball as well. Keppel was named to the St. Louis Post Dispatch Second Team All-American as a point guard. In his senior year, he averaged 12 points and shot 52% from the field. Keppel was about to attend his child hood dream school of Notre Dame before he was drafted by the Mets as a supplemental first round pick in the 2000 amateur draft. Kepple has taken almost 45 hours of general requirements the past three offseason at Notre Dame.
Kepple’s stay in Brooklyn was only a rehab stint. Kepple hurt his shoulder previously in Double A Binghamton on May 6 against the Trenton Thunder. The injury was not serious but he still worked his way up form Florida to Brooklyn. Kepple impressed the organization in his three starts
Kepple went 2-0 in three starts with 13 strikeouts in 14 innings. One of his two wins came on Opening Night at KeySpan Park against Staten Island. Cyclones manager Tim Teufel was impressed with Keppel’s three starts as a Cyclone.
"Keppel is a three-pitch pitcher. He has the changeup, curveball and the fastball. He mixes it up and he does it effectively".
"He’s a pitcher and not a thrower. He works the corners, keeps his fastball down and commands the strike zone".
Kepple has been feeling buoyant about his chances of going up the Mets organizational ladder with the recent youth movement at Shea. It’s always a great opportunity to play with this organization and I can see myself in another year having a shot with the big club. You never know but that’s what I’m really hoping for".