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Spokane Indians infielder Kyle Karros making name for himself in minor leagues

Apr. 23—In a lot of respects, Kyle Karros is like most minor league baseball players, just trying to earn a living playing a kid's game and making a name for himself.

But it's his name that usually get first recognition. Such is the case for the son of a longtime former big leaguer.

Karros' famous father is Eric Karros, who played 14 seasons primarily with the Los Angeles Dodgers and now covers the team as an analyst.

Kyle, a third baseman, isn't the only Karros progeny to follow in his father's footsteps — older brother Jared is in the Dodgers system.

Kyle and Jared took the same path to professional baseball as Eric did, starring at UCLA in college before hearing their names called in the MLB draft. Jared was selected in the 16th round in the 2022 draft, Kyle was taken in the fifth round by the Colorado Rockies last summer.

"We like the young man. That being said, we also like the ballplayer that comes with it," Rockies special assistant to the general manager Clint Hurdle said late week at Avista Stadium. "He's had the opportunity to have a peek behind the curtain a lot of kids don't get, following his dad, being in those situations. His dad and mom raised him right. There's no entitlement coming in. He did his work at UCLA. He's got good makeup. Good teammate, good understanding of the game."

During last year's draft, everyone in the family kind of expected that Kyle would get picked up by the Dodgers, like his dad and brother. But when the Rockies came calling, Kyle Karros knew it was the right fit.

"Being over here with the Rockies, I think that this has been very good for me," he said. "I would have never heard the end of it, following in their footsteps and everything. But being over here, I've loved every part of being with the Rockies. I think it's the perfect place for me to kind of start my own my own path."

Karros had the talent to play in college anywhere, but UCLA was an easy pick for him.

"I loved where I grew up (in Southern California)," he said. "Obviously, UCLA isn't too far from there. So that part was honestly probably my favorite part, being in the area that I loved growing up in and getting to continue in that area for college. ... The aspect of having some history there with my dad. But the coolest part was me playing with my brother for another couple years following high school."

Karros didn't think about it while playing with Jared as teammates, but now he's "super nervous" watching him pitch.

"I couldn't imagine actually having to field a ground ball for him now," he said. "I did it back in the day, but now I'm just nervous as hell pulling for him. ... It's definitely a surreal experience playing behind him. You obviously pull for your teammates. But when it's family out there, you can't even describe it."

Karros, the Rockies' No. 28 prospect according to MLB.com, is off to a terrific start for the Indians this season. Through 15 games, Karros is hitting .327 with a .448 on-base percentage over 55 at-bats. He has one homer, 11 RBIs and two steals.

Jared is doing pretty well, too. In three starts for High-A Great Lakes, he's 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 15 innings with 17 strikeouts.

The Indians won a team-record eight games to start the season and are 11-4 through the first three series heading into six games on the road against Vancouver this week.

"When we do well as a team, I normally do well," Karros said. "It takes the pressure, the stress and all that off yourself when you're genuinely going out there and just trying to help the team win."

"I've been more than excited working with Kyle," Indians hitting coach Tom Sutaris said. "Just the opportunity to work with him and talk baseball. He really has a great self-awareness. I think the makeup is off the charts and I think the physical tools are there to be a really special player. He understands exactly how pitchers are working. He does his homework every day, and he's prepared every time he comes out here to work before game and then compete in the game."

There's not much of an age gap between the siblings, so they were good friends growing up and didn't have much of a rivalry.

"He wasn't like the older brother picking on me, because I'd probably put up a pretty good fight if he was doing that," Kyle Karros said. "But definitely the dynamic with him being older brother — his friend group, I always wanted to be part of that. And I did. I always kind of just rolled with him and his crew."

That dynamic is probably why the younger Karros seems mature beyond his 21 years.

"It was definitely a huge advantage for me, and I always had a good solid group to look up to and fit in with him," he said. "I think another reason I was kind of early to mature mentally was just being around my dad a lot, too. He included me with everything. He would always try to expose me to as much as he could."

Some sons of big leaguers have talked about the pressure to live up expectations — either within the family or from outside sources — due to carrying the famous last name.

"I think the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages," Karros said. "Just the resources we have access to. Especially growing up in L.A., I'm very fortunate for that because he obviously made a ton of relationships while he played.

"We had a very similar path growing up, and then UCLA, and then baseball. So, anything I'm experiencing right now, he's probably experienced at some point. Having him to just relay stuff to, bounce ideas — if I'm struggling, I can talk to him, because like I said, he's been through it all."

Eric was Kyle's first hitting coach. But that relationship works best, Kyle says, when it's "dad first."

"The more I've worked with him as hitting coach, the more I turn off the hitting coach side of him and just treat him like my father," he said. "There were so many times where hitting would honestly get into the way of our relationship. And we'd just scream at each other in the cage. ... I need him to be my dad more than I need them to my hitting coach at this point."

Karros called his mother, Trish Maly, "the glue" and his sister, Mikah Maly-Karros, a former college athlete and psychologist, a "stabilizer" in the family.

"(Mom) was more on the creative side, psychological side, emotional side," he said. "If stuff was getting too intense with pops, I'd go to mom and talk to her. ... You get me, my brother and dad all in the same room and it's really a locker room dynamic. And then I have a mom and a sister who aren't quite in that locker room. So (Mikah) kind of gives my mom some more leverage."