Pond Performers: Cedar Rapids Kernels (6/9-6/16)
By Wally Fish
Cedar Rapids has been a popular team to follow thanks to the early season production of Byron Buxton but he’s not alone. The Kernels are the home for a collection of other intriguing prospects and as a group they’ve powered the Kernels to a first half record of 40-28. A record that sits as the 4th best of the 16 teams in the Midwest League.
They’ve had a fantastic season but they limped into the All-Star break by losing four straight and had 3-5 for the week as a whole. Their stumble helped Oakland A’s affiliate Beloit capture the Western Division.
On the Mound:
LHP Mason Melotakis (21) found mixed results over the last eight games. On the 10th he threw a 7.0 inning, 4 hit shutout with 3 walks and 2 strikeouts but he could not duplicate that success in on the 16th. Facing Peoria on Sunday he gave up 6 hits, 3 walks and 5 runs in 6.1 innings while striking out a pair of Chiefs.
RHP Jose Berrios (19) turned in the best start of all the Kernels hurlers in the past week when he tossed 6.0 innings with 4 hits, 2 unearned runs, 3 walks and 6 strike outs.
RHP Christian Powell (21) [5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 SO] and LHP Brett Lee (22) [7.0 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO] also chipped in with quality starts but thanks to the “work” of the bullpen neither pitcher came away with a win. In fact in the eight games the Kernels played, the starting pitcher got a decision just twice. Melotakis added a W to his resume in his shutout and Hudson Boyd was collared with a loss in his second start of the week.
The bullpen had a smattering of strong outings but overall got knocked around and no one was able to get through the week without getting tagged for at least one run (and often times more).
At the Plate:
If it seems like Buxton has been hot since Opening Day, it’s because he has. In fact only two times in 64 games thus far has the 19-year old CF gone without a hit in back to back games and he’s
yet to be held hitless in three straight. During the past week he hit in 7/8 of the team’s games en route to a 0.361/.425/.583 slash line with 7 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 7 SO and 3 SB in 36 AB. For most players that’s a fantastic week but for Buxton it fit right in with his 2013 line of 0.344/.431/.561 over the course of 253 AB.
Buxton’s OF mate, Adam Walker (21) hit 0.333/.351/.417 in 36 AB with 5 R, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 9 SO and 2 SB.
Dalton Hicks (23) started the week off slowly but surged at the end with a home run in each of the teams last three games. During that span he was also 6-13 with 9 RBI and a 2B.
The Kernels also got a nice boost at the end of the week with the return of Niko Goodrum who finally saw game action again after 14 days on the shelf. The 21-year old SS went 3-4 with 3 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI and 1 BB on Sunday.