Dan Kaczrowski’s a realist, who has the work ethic of an optimist.
The St. Anthony High graduate earned All-American honors at Hamline, but knew that being drafted in the 26th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft meant he wasn’t quite on the club’s We’ll-Be-Seeing-You-In-Phoenix-Soon list.
“They didn’t have a whole lot of stock in me … and didn’t pay anything in my signing bonus,” the 26-year-old said.
That made his ascension through the farm system – highlighted by a stint at Triple-A and an appearance in a MLB preseason game – all the more impressive.
After parting ways with the club this year, Kaczrowski’s back home with the Saints, the club he started his professional career with back in May 2009. And he’s relishing it — 100 percent.
“Playing so far away from home all these years, it was a little nerve-wracking to play at home, honestly,” said Kaczrowski, who can be found playing anywhere in the Saints’ infield. “I had to get used to it.”
From Yakima, Wash., to Visalia, Calif., to Mobile, Ala. – Kaczrowski’s exceptional utility skills made him invaluable. Feeling at home everywhere on the diamond allowed the 5-foot-9 Kaczrowski to upgrade from the seedy Days Inn hotels of playing rookie ball, to the chic Hyatts of Double-A and Triple-A rosters.
“In my rookie season, I played every position but pitcher and catcher,” he said. “I actually had a few innings on the mound in the next couple of years.”
Dan Kaczrowski’s a realist, who also enjoys flying by the seat of his baseball pants.
As a junior at Hamline, he was majoring in health and physical education so he could teach after college, just in case baseball wouldn’t work out. He wasn’t entirely sure where post-graduation would take him.
But then he blossomed into the MIAC’s biggest star, hit nearly .500 and decided to enter Arizona’s farm system after earning his bachelor’s degree.
Once ascending to Double-A, he wasn’t quite an everyday starter. His versatility earned him a roster spot, but not the amount of playing time he sought. It also didn’t help that coming into the league as a 22-year-old made him the odd man out with the plethora of freshly signed younger prospects.
“It was frustrating sitting on the bench and watching guys play the infield who, while they were very talented players, I believed I deserve more of a shot,” he said. “But I understood my role, and they were going to get more of a shot because of who they were to the club.”
Dan Kaczrowski’s a realist, who’ll therefore make the most of being back home playing America’s pastime.
“I fish almost every day during the (Saints’) season,” he said. “I wake up, have a cup of coffee, and am fishing out on Silver Lake (in Columbia Heights) by around 9:30-10 … and in the evening I’m having a few friends over, having a few beers and sitting by the lake. It’s my favorite thing to do.”
Come winter, he’ll be substitute teaching, a chance to supplement his summer income from the Saints.
In between then, autumn will find the former Irondale hockey player hunting for deer and pheasant. And maybe he’ll be able to drop his golf rounds from the low 80s into the high 70s.
As for his baseball future, Kaczrowski’s keeping things wide open.
“I just want to have fun this summer and play everyday – something I didn’t get to do the last two years (in the minors) as a role player,” he said. “I’ll keep giving baseball a chance as long as I know I can play. I’d like to get back into affiliated baseball. It’d be too hard to quit, and I would regret it if I did.”