Last season, the Cedar Rapids Kernels finished 42-28 in the second half of the Midwest League. That mark was good enough for a playoff spot and a second place finished in the Western Division of the standings. A playoff berth was followed up by a 2-1 series victory over Burlington, before the Kernels eventually fell to Kane County in the Semifinals. In 2015, the club will look to take the next step forward.
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Managed once again by Jake Mauer, the Cedar Rapids Kernels will have an impressive campaign to follow-up. A pitching staff that sported names like Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, and Jake Reed a season ago, will have a tough act to follow. The offense was supplied by players like Jason Kanzler and Mitch Garver. At season’s end, Garver’s .298 average was good enough for fourth amongst qualified Midwest League Hitters.
As the 2015 season rolls around, the Kernels will look to continue to improve upon the strong development they saw under Mauer a season ago. With no players invited to big league camp, quite a few names on the upcoming season’s roster will be in the familiar territory. Expect pitching to once again be an asset for the Cedar Rapids teams.
Although he dealt with shoulder issues as the season drew to a close in 2014, Kohl Stewart appears to be all systems go with a strengthened arm for the upcoming year. Expect him to lead the Kernels rotation out of the gate, with an opportunity to find himself progressing on to Fort Myers at some point in 2015. The Kernels could see quite a few players graduate this season, and Jake Reed could even end up at Target Field for the Twins by the end of the 2015 campaign.
When looking for the next top prospect to come through Cedar Rapids, 2014 draft pick Nick Gordon has to come to mind. After spending last season in Elizabethton, Gordon is a candidate to take the jump to the next level. Still working on adding to his frame and developing his bat, Gordon will continue to hone in on sticking at the shortstop position long-term.
Easily the most accessible farm stop from Minnesota in the Twins organization, Cedar Rapids remains a great weekend destination. Make sure to stay tuned to the Kernels all season by following along at their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.
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