10 questions with Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 21: Starting pitcher Max Kranick #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 21, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 21: Starting pitcher Max Kranick #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 21, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Max Kranick is a 24-year-old right-handed starting pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. After being one of the organization’s top minor league arms since he was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 draft, Kranick burst on to the big league scene this past season when he threw five perfect innings in his major league debut.

While rain unfortunately put a damper on Kranick’s potential big day, that solid start earned him eight more on the big league squad and should get him an extended look come Spring Training of 2022.

I recently had the unique opportunity to chat with Max Kranick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Let’s dive in.

Q1: Where were you and what were you doing when you were notified that you had been promoted to the big leagues for the first time?

I was first notified that I was being promoted to the big leagues when we were playing in Louisville, Ky. I was getting ready to go back to the hotel after our game and prep to pitch the next day in Triple-A. Then, Joel Hanrahan [Hanny] called me into Brian Esposito’s [Espo] office and actually played a trick on me, saying I had to skip a start because they found pine tar on my game baseballs. I was shaken. I didn’t know what to think of the situation because I wasn’t even using pine tar! And instead of pitching in Louisville, they told me I was pitching on Sunday in St. Louis. I was so caught off guard that I was being called up, especially after coming off of my worst Triple-A start of the year.

Q2: This is something I’m sure you have discussed with hundreds and hundreds of people, but I have to bring it up. Take me through your Major League debut. Nerves must have been at an all-time high and you manage to throw five perfect innings before the rain came. Did you know at the time that you were perfect? What sort of emotions were you feeling when you had to come out of the game after the rain?

It was easily the best day of my life. I was so nervous before the game that I actually remember shaking in my pregame pitchers meeting. The nerves were through the roof, especially warming up in the bullpen. After throwing strike one against Dylan Carlson, a ton of nerves left me. I felt that having an at-bat before I went out to pitch was a huge help in getting some of the nerves out. Being perfect through five dawned on me when I got into the clubhouse. I had mixed emotions about the rain, but really it was a blessing that we were able to finish the fifth before the rain came in the first place.

Q3: You recorded a few base hits during your minor league career. Do you remember who your first one was off of? Did you happen to keep the ball?

A: I do remember my first hit. It was my first at-bat of the season in Binghamton, N.Y., in front of a group of 30 to 40 friends/family members. Of course, I kept the baseball. It’s in my room, along with my first Triple-A hit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get that milestone first hit in the big leagues.

Q4: Throughout your entire baseball career, high school and college included, what is the closest you’ve ever come to throwing a no-hitter aside from your big league debut?

A: Besides my debut, the closest I’ve been to a no hitter was during one of my Low-A starts. If I can remember correctly, I was into the sixth and gave up a single to start the inning.

Q5: Who was your first strikeout victim in the big leagues? Was that one a ball that you kept?

A: Tyler O’Neil was my first major league strikeout. I have that ball in a case. Our head clubby, Scott Bonnett [Bones], did an unbelievable job of gathering together a bunch of significant baseballs from my debut. I’ll forever be appreciative of that. He made the day even more special.

Q6: Where do you spend your offseasons? What does your routine look like while trying to stay in the groove for spring training/the regular season?

This offseason, I split time between Philadelphia and my hometown of Jessup, Pa., a small town in the Scranton area. My routine has stayed pretty consistent throughout the years. Usually, once the season ends, I take four weeks off from throwing, then slowly build back into it and take two weeks off of lifting and conditioning. During the offseason, I consistently go to the gym five or six days a week and do physical therapy work two or three times a week to stay on top of some arm care/shoulder work. My physical therapy area of focus differs from offseason to offseason, depending on fatigues at the end of the season.

Q7: Would you say that you’ve achieved your childhood dream?

A: Absolutely, I achieved my childhood dream. Now I’m trying my best to do everything in my power to stay in the big leagues. It truly is the coolest place in the world.

Q8: Who is your favorite catcher you’ve ever thrown to? I’d imagine every pitcher out there has a guy that stands out above the rest.

A: I’ve thrown to a bunch of great catchers in my career, but the guy that sticks out to me is Jacob Stallings [Stalls]. The way he approached my debut was super cool. He told me that he went back and watched my recent Triple-A outings to prepare. As a young guy, that was really eye-opening to me to see how much he cared. Whatever fingers he put down, I nodded to. I obviously let him call the game.

Q9: You are given the chance to make at LEAST one change to modern-day baseball. What, if anything, are you changing? Answer as if you’re given the final say.

A: I would love the universal DH. Being in the box this year made me really appreciate how difficult hitting is at the Major League level.

Q10: You have been selected as one of the writers who gets a ballot for this year’s Hall of Fame voting. Who, if anyone, are you voting for if given the chance?

A: Barry Bonds would be my pick for the Hall of Fame. I know that he played during the steroid era, but, for me, he still squared up and lifted 762 baseballs. That’s incredibly difficult to do on top of all his other impressive career stats.

Next. Would this Padres-Pirates trade really work?. dark

Note: Max Kranick is the first player selected to be a part of a segment I will be starting called “10 Questions With.” With some more current and former MLB players in the queue, what are some questions you would like me to ask other players down the line?