Minnesota Twins low-A affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels season wrap up
The last Minnesota Twins affiliate wrapped up their season in an unfortunate way as Cedar Rapids was eliminated in the Midwest League playoffs.
The Minnesota Twins have seen their minor league teams this year rate as the top team in many of their affiliate levels. While two affiliates have celebrated championships, Cedar Rapids fell short, falling in the semifinals of the Midwest League.
Cedar Rapids finished with a 75-65 overall record. They clinched a playoff spot with a wild card spot in the first half of the season. Many of the best players that were on that first-half club moved up to Fort Myers, and Cedar Rapids did struggle with consistency, especially in their lineup in the second half. In the opening round of the playoffs, Cedar Rapids swept Kane County in a pair of games, 6-5 and 7-3. However, when they faced up in the divisional round, Quad Cities bested them in a best-of-3 matchup, taking the first and third games, 4-5, 7-4, 1-6.
Let’s take a look at a few of the standout players this season for Cedar Rapids:
While a hot offense at the mid-way point of the season, Cedar Rapids finished the season in the lower-middle of the Midwest League, hitting .247 as a team. The Kernels did lead the league in triples by a decent margin, with 57, leading the next closest team by 9.
Some of the best individual performances:
- The Twins hope for a big bat at first base in the near future coming into the season, Lewin Diaz spent the full season at Cedar Rapids,
tallying a .292/.329/.444 line with 33 doubles and 12 home runs.
- Drawing rave reviews early in the season for play that jumped off the screen as one watched, Jermaine Palacios earned a mid-season promotion to Fort Myers by hitting .320/.362/.544 with Cedar Rapids with 13 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs, and 9 steals in 62 games.
- Also earning a midseason promotion and leaving a significant hole in the Kernels lineup was outfielder Jaylin Davis, who became a fixture in the middle of the lineup, hitting .267/.316/.486 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, and 9 stolen bases in 66 games.
- Two of the most athletically impressive players in the Twins system both had seasons that in the end look solid, but had plenty of ups and downs as Aaron Whitefield hit .262/.318/.414 with 18 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs, and 33 stolen bases. Travis Blankenhorn worked all around the infield and initially found himself in a significant offensive hole, but finished strong for season lines of .251/.343/.441 with 22 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, and 13 stolen bases.
- When the #1 overall pick is a high school player, rarely does he make it to full-season ball in his draft season, and even more rarely does he show well if he does get there, but that was not the case for Royce Lewis, who hit .296/.363/.394 in 18 games with Cedar Rapids, hitting a pair of doubles, a triple, and a home run, along with adding 3 steals.
More from Puckett's Pond
- Minnesota Twins: After signing with the Mets, Correa spurns Twins again
- Minnesota Twins: You Spin Me Right Round, Right Round
- Minnesota Twins: What happens next at Shortstop?
- Minnesota Twins: Grading the Twins’ Joey Gallo signing
- Minnesota Twins: 4 Possible Trade Chips not named Kepler or Arraez
While the hitting struggled in the second half, the Kernels pitching was consistently good all season long, finishing second in the league in ERA with a 3.26 team mark.
Some of the best individual performances:
- Awarded with a spot on the Midwest League awards team at the end of the season, Clark Beeker really had a quality season for the Kernels. He made 20 starts, going 11-3, with a 2.03 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, throwing 128 2/3 innings with a 17/84 BB/K ratio.
- The truly surprising and dominant force in the rotation in the early season before he was injured was big righty Tyler Wells. He struggled some in his return after injury, but still finished with a 3.11 ERA over 75 1/3 innings with a 1.13 WHIP and a 22/92 BB/K ratio.
- Until July 31st, one of the brightest spots in the Kernels pitching staff was Eduardo Del Rosario. He earned a promotion just ahead of that date to Fort Myers, struggled mightily, returned and also struggled with the Kernels, finding himself placed into the bullpen. Overall his season numbers were still quite respectable at a 4.11 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 104 innings with a 41/94 BB/K ratio.
- Sean Poppen was a member of that first half rotation that earned a promotion with his excellent performance. He made 14 starts in the first half, throwing 87 innings with a 2.90 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 17/81 BB/K ratio.
- Some of the guys who made just a handful or two of starts really impressed as well. Anthony Marzi took the hill 9 times, throwing 54 2/3 innings, with a 1.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and a 14/36 BB/K ratio. Griffin Jax was incredibly impressive in his short furlough from military service, going 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 7/13 BB/K over 4 starts and 26 1/3 innings.
- The Kernels bullpen was anchored by one of the better relievers in all of the minor leagues in 2017, Hector Lujan, who made 42 appearances,
throwing 54 innings, with 17 saves, a 1.33 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and a 8/54 BB/K ratio.
- Patrick McGuff and Ryan Mason were two of the best middle relief guys who spent the year in Cedar Rapids, with McGuff posting a 2.49 ERA over 50 2/3 innings of relief and a 19/53 BB/K ratio while Mason touted a 2.01 ERA and an 11/43 BB/K over 49 1/3 relief innings.
- A handful of relief arms worked through Cedar Rapids and up the ladder, but none better than Tom Hackimer, who made just 16 appearances before moving up to Fort Myers, throwing 24 innings, with a 1.50 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, and a 3/28 BB/K ratio.
Next: Twins Minor League Awards
The Kernels had a rough end to the season, but there was plenty to cheer for in their season. We’ll get to see a number of these players hopefully work their way to the Minnesota Twins roster in the near future!