Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Cedar Rapids Kernels Baseball

Kleinhaus-Schulz joins Kernels broadcasts

Chris Kleinhaus-Schulz is only 26 years old, but he's already being a radio broadcaster for minor league baseball teams in Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Now Kleinhaus-Schulz, who grew up in Waverly, is excited about moving to Cedar Rapids and becoming one of the broadcasters for the Kernels in the Class A Midwest League right here in his native state.

Morgan Hawk has been the play-by-play voice for the Kernels for the past five years on KMRY, but he has accepted additional duties in the Kernels organization as the sales manager for the Waterloo Bucks in a summer collegiate league. Kleinhaus-Schulz will join Hawk in the radio booth for some games, especially early in the season, but he will have primary responsibility for road games and will handle the home games when Hawk is busy in Waterloo.



Berrios sets big goals with Twins for 2016

Minnesota Twins pitching prospect Jose Berrios made his debut with the Cedar Rapids Kernels in late April, 2013 and has evolved into what one national organization has rated as the 17th best prospect in all of professional baseball heading into the 2016 season.

On Wednesday night, Berrios joined his former manager with the Kernels, Jake Mauer, and the Twins’ minor league director, Brad Steil, for an appearance at the Kernels’ annual Hot Stove Banquet at the Doubletree Hotel.

The 21-year-old Berrios, from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was a supplemental first-round draft pick by the Twins in 2012 and his quick ascension up the organizational ladder has him on the threshold of becoming a Major Leaguer in 2016. Expectations of Berrios among Twins fans are extremely high.

He said he's not feeling any extra pressure, however, as he prepares to compete for a spot in the Twins’ starting pitching rotation in spring training.

“When you prepare your mind and your soul, you don’t have that pressure or anything. You can just be yourself and do your best work,” Berrios said.

The young right-hander has a reputation as an extremely (some might say fanatically) hard worker in the offseason, as workout videos that he posts on social media sites would seem to support. That hard work just comes naturally to Berrios.



Kernels promote Hawk, seek broadcast partner

Morgan Hawk will be juggling a bigger role with the Cedar Rapids Kernels organization this year, but it also means he'll spend less time in the radio booth as their primary announcer.

Hawk, 29, has been named the sales manager for the Waterloo Bucks and also will serve as the supervisor of broadcasting for both the Kernels and the Bucks. The Kernels own the Waterloo Bucks, which is a summer collegiate team in the Northwoods League.

Hawk will continue to have a strong presence in the radio booth for Kernels home games, especially in April and May, but the Kernels plan to hire a second announcer to handle the bulk of the Kernels road games, serve as Hawk's color commentator for home games and handle the play-by-play when Hawk is not available.

Hawk welcomes the new assignment with the Bucks, who play their 72-game season from Memorial Day through mid-August. He noted the Kernels have poured significant resources into the Bucks and he's looking forward to playing an expanded role with the organization.

"It's certainly exciting to be part of that, and growing something big in Waterloo will be fun," he said.



3 chosen for C.R. Hall of Fame

Dale Brodt, Tom Lawless and Reggie Sanders have been selected for induction into the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, the Kernels announced Tuesday.

Brodt began as the public address announcer at the old Veterans Memorial Stadium and announced more than 1,700 minor league baseball games. He was in broadcasting for more than 30 years, starting in his home town of Mason City in 1957.

Brodt worked at radio stations in Cherokee and Oelwein before moving to Cedar Rapids, where he was a news reporter for 20 years at KLWW and KCRG. After his broadcasting career, Brodt went to work for the City of Cedar Rapids, where he retired as the chief zoning inspector in 2003.

He and his wife, Rena, have been married 56 years and have four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

Lawless managed the Cedar Rapids Kernels for three seasons (1994-96), posting a 216-196 record and winning the Midwest League Championship in 1994. He played eight seasons in the Majors after being selected in the 17th round of the 1978 draft from Penn State.

Lawless is best remembered for being the only player ever traded for Pete Rose and for his game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series. In 343 MLB games, he hit .207 with two homers and 24 RBIs with the Reds, Expos, Cardinals and Blue Jays.

Lawless managed 11 seasons after his playing career, serving as the Astros interim manager in 2014 for 24 games. His most recent coaching assignment was for the Corpus Christi Hooks in the Texas League as their infield coach during the 2015 season.

Sanders retired from baseball in 2007 after a 17-year career in the Major Leagues. During his Major League career, Sanders played on eight different teams, was elected to play in one All-Star Game and won the World Series in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He played in five different National League Championship Series and three different World Series. The Cincinnati Reds drafted Sanders in the seventh round in 1987. He played for the Cedar Rapids Reds in 1990, batting .285 with 17 homers, 63 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 127 games.

Sanders made his MLB debut on Aug. 22, 1991 against the Atlanta Braves. During his Major League career, Sanders played in 1,777 games, which included more than 6,200 plate appearances, more than 3,000 total bases, 983 runs batted in, 304 stolen bases, 305 home runs and a lifetime .267 batting average.

He has the distinction of being one of only eight players in the history of Major League Baseball to hit 300 home runs and steal 300 bases. Sanders lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. with his wife, Wyndee, and their four daughters.

The Class of 2016 Hall of Fame will be honored at the Hot Stove Banquet on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids.


Hot Stove Banquet set for Jan. 27

The 20th Annual Cedar Rapids Kernels Hot Stove Banquet will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids.

The banquet will include a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and local items, a Minnesota Twins Hot Stove Roundtable Discussion featuring Twins top pitching prospect Jose Berrios, and the induction of the Class of 2016 into the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame.

This year’s Hall of Fame Class includes Dale Brodt, Tom Lawless and Reggie Sanders.

Proceeds from this event help the Kernels Foundation accomplish its vision of ensuring that all youth in Eastern Iowa have the opportunity to experience the thrills and life-enhancing lessons that come from engaging in athletics and recreational activities.

Tickets for the banquet are $50 in advance and $55 at the door, with corporate tables seating 10 people available for $450. Tickets can be purchased at Veterans Memorial Stadium during regular business hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by phone at 363-3887. Banquet tickets also may be purchased on-line at www.kernels.com.

KCRG TV-9, KZIA and KGYM are media sponsors of the banquet.


Jake Mauer will manage Kernels again

Maybe Jake Mauer should buy a house in Cedar Rapids and move his family to Iowa on a full-time basis instead of commuting between here and the Twin Cities.

He's coming back to town again.

The Minnesota Twins announced Tuesday morning that Mauer will manage the Cedar Rapids Kernels again in 2016 for his fourth straight season at the helm of the local Class A team.

Mauer, 37, has compiled a 238-180 record in three years with the Kernels and has taken them to the Midwest League playoffs all three years.

This will be Mauer's ninth season as a manager in the Twins organization.

Mauer was the 23rd-round pick of the Twins in 2001 and played five seasons in the Twins system, including 84 games in the Midwest League for Quad Cities. He is the brother of Twins catcher Joe Mauer and attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.



Mauer enjoyed his time with Twins

MINNEAPOLIS - The Cedar Rapids Kernels fell one game short of a Midwest League championship this season following an emotional one-run loss to West Michigan.

One day later, Kernels Manager Jake Mauer was in the Minnesota Twins dugout beginning a two-week term as a supplemental coach on the Twins’ bench.

Thanks to that assignment, Mauer had a first-hand view of the Twins’ surprising but ultimately ill-fated playoff drive. The Twins were eliminated from postseason contention Saturday following a loss to Kansas City in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

The stint with the Twins was Mauer’s first opportunity to work with the big league team.

“It’s been awesome,” Mauer said in the Twins dugout Saturday. “It’s been a lot of fun, obviously, being in the mix here for the playoff spot and watching how these guys prepare and go after it.”

Mauer, who has coached and managed at three different minor league levels in the Twins organization over the past decade, had the opportunity to get a close-up look at a number of his former players, including three members of his 2013 Cedar Rapids Kernels squad with Tyler Duffey, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler.

“It’s been really interesting, especially watching these young guys, some of the guys that I had in the Florida State League (Class High A) or even in GCL (rookie level Gulf Coast League), seeing them five, six, seven, eight years down the road here. Watching them mature and see some of them have a big impact on what’s going on and the success that they have had here has been pretty exciting.”



Congratulations to Kernels and their loyal fans

Congratulations to the Cedar Rapids Kernels for nearly winning the Midwest League title. And congratulations to all the fans who supported the Kernels to the very last pitch of the 2015 campaign.

Manager Jake Mauer and his staff did a marvelous job this season, steering a club of light hitters to the final game of the playoffs. The Kernels looked like dead men walking in August, but they came alive in the playoffs and nearly pulled it off before losing a pair of one-run games with the championship within reach.

The Kernels succeeded in the playoffs. And so did their fans.

Cedar Rapids fans did not know until late Sunday afternoon that there would be a fifth and final game at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Monday night. Nonetheless, an impressive crowd of 2,363 showed up and paid attention to every pitch.



Kernels will host 2016 All-Star Game

The Cedar Rapids Kernels will host the 2016 Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 21 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Midwest League president Richard Nussbaum made the announcement prior to giving the West Michigan Whitecaps their 2015 championship trophy after they beat the Kernels, 3-2, in the fifth and deciding game at the stadium Monday night.


"It's a shame,' Mauer says of ending

All of the players on the Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball team have dreams of playing in the Major Leagues and winning a World Series for the Minnesota Twins some day, but you'd be dead-wrong to think they didn't care deeply about winning a Midwest League title on their way up the ladder.

Several Kernels sat quietly in their dugout Monday night after they lost a heartbreaker to the West Michigan Whitecaps, 3-2, in the championship game of the Midwest League playoffs. Other Kernels were draped on the dugout fence, watching the Whitecaps celebrate on Perfect Game Field and then accept the championship trophy.

Two Kernels sat in the dirt near their bullpen, not ready to budge. Other players picked up their gear and filed slowly to the clubhouse for the last time in a season that began 149 games ago in April.

"We definitely cared," said 19-year-old shortstop Nick Gordon, a $3.85 million bonus baby who developed before our eyes this season. "Everybody went out there and gave their all."

Once again, the Kernels could not get a big hit at the right time Monday night. It was the same story Sunday when they lost to the Whitecaps, 2-1, in Game 4 of the series after loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth.

The Kernels took an early 2-0 lead Monday, fell behind 3-2 in a disastrous fifth inning and could not take advantage of two promising opportunities in the seventh and eighth innings.

"It's a shame. That was a shame," Kernels Manager Jake Mauer told reporters in his office. "It's just a shame, our bats really didn't show up the last three days."

The Kernels swept their first two playoff series against Quad Cities and Peoria and had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 finals against the Whitecaps, but the visitors ended up dancing on Perfect Game Field while the Kernels packed their bags.

Mauer was justifiably proud of his guys for their work this season, but naturally sad about the way it ended.

"If you would have told me in April that we'd be sitting here - what is it, the 21st of September? - I'd take that any day. Absolutely," he remarked.

Mauer will join the Minnesota Twins as a coach for the rest of the season, beginning Tuesday at Target Field in Minneapolis. The rest of the Kernels will be heading home or to fall ball for the next step in their career.

Some of the Kernels will be promoted to Fort Myers next season. Some of them will be assigned to Cedar Rapids again. Some of them will be released from pro ball.

They exchanged a few hugs Monday night when it was over, not knowing exactly when they'll see each other again after a successful ride in Cedar Rapids.

And make no mistake, they cared about what happened on the field here Monday night.

"It's still baseball," said muscular third baseman T.J. White. "Losing is tough. We made it this far, we wanted to come out with a W. It didn't turn out for us."

The Kernels got off to a good start Monday. Austin Diemer socked a solo home run in the third inning for a 1-0 lead and they made it 2-0 in the fourth on a triple by Edgar Corcino and an RBI single by White.

Kernels starter Randy LeBlanc cruised through the first four innings on the mound and the enthusiastic crowd of 2,363 sensed they might witness the first Midwest League title for a Cedar Rapids team since 1994.

Things unraveled quickly in the top of the fifth.

LeBlanc got the first out, but a walk, a single and another walk loaded the bases with one out. The Whitecaps scored their first run on a high hopper to Gordon when the Kernels were unable to turn the double play, then David Gonzalez - a .069 hitter for West Michigan in the playoffs at that point - lined a two-out single to right field to tie the game.

Luke Bard replaced LeBlanc point, but Bard - who had little time to warm up - uncorked a wild pitch and hit a batter to re-load the bases. The Kernels could have escaped without further damage, but catcher Brian Navarreto committed a rare passed ball to let the go-ahead run cross the plate.

Navarreto had a strong year behind the plate for Cedar Rapids, but he got beat up in the playoffs by foul balls and let a pitch get away at the absolute worst time.

"It's unfortunate that's what it comes down to and turns out to be the winning run," said Mauer. "In my book, he's the best defensive catcher we've had in the three years I've been here. It's off his glove and they're celebrating."

White belted a 390-foot shot to left-center in the sixth inning, but the ball was caught at the edge of the warning track. The Kernels put two runners on base in the seventh inning and again in the eighth, but could not get a key hit.

Max Murphy drew a one-out walk in the ninth inning in a 10-pitch at-bat, but pinch-hitter Brett Doe and Diemer struck out to end the ballgame.

"They take advantage of a passed ball and that's our season," said Mauer.

The Kernels compiled a 1.54 ERA during the playoffs, but they hit just .238 and fell a hit or two short of the title.

WEST MICHIGAN (3): Kivelt, cf, 3 0 0 0, Simcox, ss, 4 0 0 0, Gerber, rf, 4 0 1 0, Scivicque, c, 4 0 0 0, Stewart, lf, 3 1 0 0, Pankake dh, 3 1 1 0, Kengor, 1b, 3 0 1 0, Contreras, 3b, 4 1 1 1, Gonzalez, 2b, 3 0 1 1. Totals 31 3 5 2.

KERNELS (2): Valera, 2b, 3 0 0 0, Gordon, ss, 4 0 0 0, Corcino, rf, 3 1 1 0, White, 3b, 4 0 1 1, Wade, cf, 3 0 0 0, Paul, 1b, 4 0 0 0, Murphy, dh, 3 0 1 0, Navarreto, c, 2 0 0 0, Doe, ph, 1 0 0 0, Diemer, lf, 4 1 1 1. Totals 31 2 4 2.

West Michigan   000 030 000 – 3 5 0 
Cedar Rapids    001 100 000 – 2 4 0

Seaton, Moreno (7), Ravenelle (8), Jimenez (9) and Scivicque. LeBlanc, Bard (5), Landa (6), Anderson (8) and Navarreto. WP - Seaton (1-0), LP - LeBlanc (0-1). Sv - Jimenez (4). 3B - Gerber (2), Corcino (1). HR – Diemer (1). SB – Pankake (2), Wade (2), White (2), Valera (1). T – 2:53. A – 2,363.

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