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June 11, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Kyle Wren has a knack of running in select circles — actually running circles, period.

He ran circles around ACC competition as a freshman, leading the conference in hits (90) and triples (7), finishing fifth in runs scored (57) and ninth in batting average (.340).

One of the ACC’s premiere lead-off hitters, he was rewarded by being named First-Team All-ACC and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.

That’s pretty rarified air he breathes, as the former Landmark Christian star became only the 29th Yellow Jacket to earn Freshman All-America honors and can be mentioned in the same breath as current or former Major League stars Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Teixeira and Matt Wieters.

“I’m honored to be named a Freshman All-American,” he said. “It wasn’t one of my goals. My goal was to come out, hit over .300, and help out the team, do as much as I could. As the season progressed, I started to realize, ‘Hey, you can do really well in this conference and in college baseball.”

Wren came out swinging, beginning his collegiate career on an eight-game hitting streak, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored in his first collegiate game, and never stopped hitting. He had at least one hit in 50 of Tech’s 63 games and reached base in 56 games. He had 18 multi-hit games, including six three-hit games, a pair of four-hit games and a five-hit game.

He never had back-to-back hitless games during his inaugural collegiate regular season, and his only multi-game hitless streak was four games — the final two of the ACC Tournament and first two of the NCAAs.

“I had a little trouble at the end but I felt really comfortable at the plate the whole year,” he said. “I kept waiting to go through a couple of games where I just didn’t have a good feel for it, just feeling uncomfortable at the plate but it never happened. I kept trying to take the same approach every day and kept working on my swing and everything. It was the consistency with which I tried to repeat everything I was doing that helped me.”

Seeking to make the next step in his development, Wren has ventured north to the renowned Cape Cod League, where he’ll be playing for the Cotuit Kettleers, under the tutelage of Head Coach Mike Roberts, whose teams are known for their mastery of “small ball.”

“I’m trying to take my speed game and turn it up even more, be able to use base-running and stealing and get a better grasp for it this summer,” he said.

Wren stole a team-high 16 bases in 2011, second on the team behind Brandon Thomas’ 19, and 12th in the ACC, but he also was tied for third in the league with seven caught-stealings. Improving his technique and efficiency is something he’s looking to work on with Roberts and the Kettleers. But he’s not limiting his Cape Cod League work to stealing bases.

“I’m going to keep working hard,” he said. “It’s about getting good at-bats. Doing well but being more relaxed.”

He’s looking forward to playing with the Kettleers, who won the League last season, and include local baseball royalty, in Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Baseball Hall of Famer and Red Sox legend, Carl — a fact of which he might not have been aware, when he first landed in Cape Cod on Thursday and had a meet-and-greet with his teammates at an introductory cookout.

“They seemed like a bunch of cool guys,” he said. “They were having fun doing the skits they had worked on for the cookout. So I’m just looking forward to getting to know the rest of the team and having fun with them.”

Over the course of league play he’ll also have a chance to keep up with several of his Georgia Tech teammates who are playing in the League, as well as some of the best collegiate talent in the country. (Sting Daily will have more on the esteemed Summer league and Tech’s presence in this year’s field tomorrow).

“I’ve heard that it’s the best college baseball league in the country. It’s where all the best pitchers go,” Wren said. “Wherever the best pitchers go, that’s where I want to go because I want to have consistent at-bats against the best pitchers in the nation. I’m definitely looking forward to facing these top-tier pitchers.”

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