ANAHEIM -- Kevin Kiermaier showcased his much-hyped defense when he started in center field Saturday night against the Angels.
"He's got really good feet," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Sunday's series finale, in which Kiermaier denied Erick Aybar of extra bases with a leaping catch at the wall in the second inning. "He's got a quick release with a lot on it as you saw. He's a really good technical outfielder."
Maddon cited a ball to right that Wil Myers caught near the right-field line.
"Semi-routine, he, Kiermaier was pretty much 25 feet away from him," Maddon said. "He's always moving. You always try to get your guys to understand the concept that you always have something to do on every play. I don't even know if 75 percent get that. I don't know if 80 percent get that. But he gets it better than anybody."
Kiermaier, rated the Rays' No. 10 prospect by MLB.com, also collected his first Major League hit Saturday night, when he beat out a ground ball to shortstop in the sixth inning.
"It felt good to finally get that off my back," Kiermaier said. "I felt good the whole night. I knew it would happen sooner or later if I kept swinging the bat well. It was a nice relief to get it out of the way."
After collecting the hit, Kiermaier stood on first next to first baseman Albert Pujols, one of the great hitters in Major League history.
"He just said, 'Good swing, buddy,'" Kiermaier said. "Pretty cool to hear it from him after watching him on TV all these years. Pretty cool moment."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less