Detroit Tigers draftees Ryan Kreidler, Bryant Packard have been teammates before
UCLA infielder Ryan Kreidler borrowed East Carolina outfielder Bryant Packard's Chevrolet Tahoe last summer.
The duo lived together as teammates on the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League then, and now plan to embark on a professional career together.
Kreidler was drafted in the fourth round and Packard in the fifth by the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.
"Kreidler is an awesome guy," Packard told the Free Press just after his selection (No. 142 overall).
Awesome enough that when Packard departed Wareham early for an opportunity with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Kreidler and Houston's Lael Lockhart were left the black 2018 model for a few weeks.
"We were driving that thing around all summer," Kreidler told the Free Press. "It was awesome."
"I think he likes me a good amount," Packard said.
Kreidler and Packard quickly developed a close relationship sparked by baseball, but their connection then branched to other parts of life in a new experience on the Cape.
"He's the man," Kreidler said. "He's a great dude and overall a great baseball player.
"I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there and playing some ball with 'Pack.'"
Both Kriedler and Packard are juniors prepping for the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend. Kreidler and his Bruins host Michigan, while Packard and the Pirates travel to Louisville.
Chasing a national championship, Packard and Kreidler are focused on finishing what is likely their final collegiate seasons on a celebratory note. Packard said it's "not too hard" to get distracted by an impending professional career.
"It's just really playing for these fans here, playing for this university and trying not to think too much about Detroit," Packard said. "It's very easy for your mind to wander, but you've got to stay in the present and really just focus on the Super Regionals."
The fourth Bruin picked in the 2019 draft, Kreidler said he and his UCLA teammates are excited to extend their collegiate careers.
"The great thing about this team is everyone's bought in, and we're all still working towards that goal of winning a national championship," Kreidler said. "We're super excited for the opportunity, and we're looking forward to playing Michigan this weekend."
Packard broke out as a sophomore in 2018, batting .406 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs en route to the American Athletic Conference player-of-the-year honors as well as placing on seven All-American teams.
This year, the 6-foot-3, 200 pound Packard is batting .353 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 54 games. He expected to be picked in the fifth round, not necessarily by the Tigers. He met with a Tigers area scout before the season, but did not view Detroit as one of the teams pushing for him the hardest.
"I actually was pretty surprised," said Packard, a Greenville, N.C native.
Kreidler, picked 112th overall, is in the midst of a breakout season with the Bruins, batting .309 with 18 doubles, nine home runs, 44 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
Previously selected in the 35th round of the 2016 draft by the Chicago Cubs, the shortstop notched career highs in doubles, triples home runs and stolen bases this season.
He also improved as a fielder, charged with only five errors and posting a .970 fielding percentage this year. He credited his summer in the Cape, which culminated with a league championship, as a jump start to his success this spring.
"A lot of guys go into that league as a finished product looking to showcase themselves a little bit, but I took it more as a summer to develop," said Kreidler. "Winning the title out there was a huge confidence booster."
On deck for both Packard and Kreidler is the nationally televised college tournament. After that, the former summer ball teammates can rekindle their friendship, which Kreidler said is key to success later on.
"Having guys you're comfortable with in the organization is huge," Kreidler said. "If we want to take this thing to the top and win some World Series for the Tigers, that's what we're going to have to build."