Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Cedar Rapids Kernels Baseball

Kernels installing new drainage system

The Cedar Rapids Kernels are confident they've solved their flooding problems by installing a new drainage system at Veterans Memorial Stadium this fall.

The $120,000 project is nearing completion, although it fell behind schedule due to unseasonably cold temperatures in November.

The flooding problem has existed ever since the stadium opened in 2002. When the stadium was built, a 10-inch pipe was installed to drain the entire bowl section of seats and it was not big enough to handle all the water from a heavy storm.

Excess rain water would run down the tunnel behind home plate and into dressing areas.

"Whenever there's a heavy downpour, it exceeds the limit for what that little 10-inch pipe will carry, and that creates flooding into the umpires room and both the visiting and home locker rooms," Kernels General Manager Doug Nelson explained Monday.



Molitor coming to Kernels banquet

New Minnesota Twins Manager Paul Molitor is scheduled to be the featured guest at the 19th annual Cedar Rapids Kernels Hot Stove Banquet, to be held Tuesday, Jan. 13 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids.

The banquet will include a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and local items, the appearance of the Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan as well as the induction of the Class of 2015 into the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame. This year's Hall of Fame Class includes Nick Adenhart, Chili Davis, Lanny Peterson and Burt Wilson.

This is the third time the Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan has visited Cedar Rapids and will feature Twins All-Star closer Glen Perkins, Molitor, coach Gene Glynn and a roundtable discussion with Q&A sessions and autographs. Kris Atteberry from the Twins Radio Network will emcee the Twins Winter Caravan. Players and coaches appearing with the Twins Winter Caravan are subject to change.

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 go on sale Monday and are $40 in advance and $45 at the door, with corporate tables seating 10 people available for $350. Tickets can be purchased at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium during regular business hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by phone at 363-3887. Banquet tickets may be purchased on-line at starting Monday.

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


Kernels donate MWL fine money to HACAP

The Cedar Rapids Kernels have donated their share of Midwest League fine money, collected from the 16 MWL clubs, to the HACAP Food Reservoir.

As a member of America's Second Harvest and the National Food Bank Network, the HACAP Food Reservoir distributes donated products to area soup kitchens, pantries, senior and child care centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and other non-profit food programs that feed the needy.

Annually, the HACAP Food Reservoir Programs distribute 2.4 million pounds of food to local organizations and provide 4,000 food boxes to families in need.

The Midwest League collects fine money from players and coaches throughout the season when they are ejected from a game. The total amount collected this season was $8,450 and the Kernels' share was $529.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels said they are pleased to support HACAP, a diverse, community-focused non-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering and improving the lives of families living with the everyday barriers of poverty.


Kernels finalize purchase of Bucks

The sale of the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League to the Cedar Rapids Ball Club, Inc. (Cedar Rapids Kernels) is official.

Cedar Rapids Ball Club, Inc. President Gary Keoppel, Kernels General Manager Doug Nelson and Waterloo Bucks General Manager Dan Corbin were on hand for the official signing Monday.

"Waterloo has a tremendous baseball history, the team receives excellent support from the community and is close enough to Cedar Rapids to share resources," said Keoppel.

"The Waterloo Bucks will remain in Waterloo and continue to play at Riverfront Stadium in the Northwoods League," said Nelson. "Dan Corbin has built an excellent front office team, our plan is not to mess with a winning formula."

"For years the Waterloo Bucks have provided the people of the Cedar Valley with wholesome, family entertainment and we feel this will only be strengthened with the addition of the resources we are able to share with the Kernels," said Corbin.

During the next several months a detailed plan will be developed for the 2015 season. It's anticipated that the team will become more active in the community, make improvements to Riverfront Stadium and enhance the promotions during the games to create an even more enjoyable fan experience for the people of the Cedar Valley.


Kernels, partners raise $35,000 for charity

The Cedar Rapids Kernels partnered with three local companies during the 2014 season to raise more than $35,000 for local charities.

For the fifth consecutive season, The Transamerica Foundation sponsored K's for Kids, where for every strikeout (or K) recorded by Kernels pitchers this season Transamerica donated $25 to Kids First Law Center for Children of Divorce.

This season, Kernels pitchers struck out 1,188 batters for a grand total of $29,700 for Kids First, the highest pledge total to date.

"At Transamerica, we believe in supporting the communities in which we work and live. Since 1994, the Aegon Transamerica Foundation, through a combination of financial grants and the volunteer commitment of our employees, has supported a wide variety of non-profit organizations focused on the education, health and the well-being of community members," said Terrie Rethamel, VP of Specialized Operations with Transamerica.

"Our $25 donation for every strikeout pitched by the Cedar Rapids Kernels supports the good work of the Kids First Law Center as they help children and their families through difficult circumstances. We appreciate all that they do to assist families, and consequently, our entire community."

CarePro Health Services sponsored Plating for Plates, where for every run scored by the Kernels CarePro donated $5 to Horizons Meals On Wheels, a program that delivers hot, nutritious meals to local homebound citizens.

This season, the Kernels scored 643 runs and that means that CarePro Health Services donated $3,215 or 643 plates of food, to Meals on Wheels. This is the seventh consecutive season that CarePro Health Services has sponsored Plating for Plates.

"It has been a privilege for CarePro Health Services to support the Horizons Meals on Wheels program over the past seven Kernels seasons," said Chris Nichols, Marketing Director at CarePro Health Services. "The Plating for Plates program has been a fun way to be able to support the community and has provided thousands of meals to area community members."

For the fourth consecutive season, Millhiser Smith Agency, Inc. and West Bend Insurance have partnered to make a donation to Junior Achievement for every home run the Kernels hit at Perfect Game Field this season. In 2014, the Kernels hit 42 home runs and Millhiser Smith and West Bend Insurance donated $2,500 to Junior Achievement.

"One of our fundamental philosophies at Millhiser Smith is to reciprocate the support we receive from Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities. This is why we chose to support Junior Achievement" said Jessica Rhatigan, Risk Consultant with Millhiser Smith Agency, Inc. "Their focus is on educating our children in preparation for a successful future and we've been honored to contribute to their efforts."

These three companies combined to raise $35,415 for local non-profits in our community this season. The Kernels would like to thank The Transamerica Foundation, CarePro Health Services, Millhiser Smith Agency, Inc. and West Bend Insurance for their continued support of these local charity programs.


Fort Myers wins Florida State League title

In his first playoff game, Twins prospect Jason Kanzler delivered a game-tying grand slam for Fort Myers. In his last, he managed to deliver an even bigger blow.

The 24-year-old outfielder drove a go-ahead home run in the top of the 11th inning and Fort Myers held on to beat Daytona, 4-2, in Game 4 to win the Florida State League championship.

"It's surreal," said Kanzler, one of may former Cedar Rapids Kernels on the club. "Winning a championship is amazing. It's an amazing feeling. Everyone on this team is all fired up. It's indescribable."

The title is the first for Fort Myers in its 22-year history, and also the first for second-year manager Doug Mientkiewicz. The 12-year Major Leaguer made the final out when the Miracle lost to the Cubs in the 1995 Florida State League Championship Series, Mientkiewicz's first season as a pro player.

"I lingered on that for a long time," Mientkiewicz said. "To get my first Minor League championship means the world."



Kane County KO's Kernels from playoffs

GENEVA, Ill. - John Curtiss faced a lot of high-pressure situations on the mound during his days as the closer for the Texas Longhorns, but he never faced a situation as unique as what he faced Sunday night in Geneva, Ill.

Curtiss made his Midwest League debut Sunday after being called up to join the Kernels on Saturday.

He threw five shutout innings for Cedar Rapids, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Kernels’ season going as they fell, 4-2, to the Kane County Cougars in a back-and-forth ballgame before 1,239 fans at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

Curtiss spent his spring with the Longhorns and his summer in Elizabethton with the Twins’ rookie level team in the Appalachian League after Minnesota made him its sixth-round pick in the June draft. But with the Kernels’ starting pitching corps running thin, Curtiss got the word he needed to board a plane to Cedar Rapids on Saturday morning and by Sunday night he was starting a game the Kernels needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

All Curtiss did was throw five innings of one-hit baseball at the team with the Midwest League’s best record. He did not give up a hit until the fifth inning, though he did walk a pair and gave up a couple of warning-track sized fly balls.



English helps Kernels in playoff loss

Tanner English was back home in South Carolina Friday when he got an unexpected phone call from the Minnesota Twins.

A day later, he was the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in their 5-2 loss to Kane County in the semifinals of the Midwest League playoffs at Veterans Memorial Stadium before 973 fans.

English sparkled with his new team with three hits, a triple, an RBI and arun scored. He thought his season was over when Elizabethton lost in the Appalachian League playoffs last week, but the Kernels needed a new player and he was it.

"I got called about 2 o'clock yesterday," he said. "I was going to Subway and they said if Cedar Rapids wins, get on a plane in the morning. So I'm here now."

English had to wait and see how the Kernels did Friday night in the decisive game of their opening-round series against Burlington. When the Kernels won the series, he hopped on planes from Columbia, S.C., to Chicago to Cedar Rapids.




Curtiss, English join Kernels for playoffs

The Cedar Rapids Kernels and Minnesota Twins announced Saturday that pitcher John Curtiss and outfielder Tanner English are joining the Kernels from Elizabethton of the Appalachian League.

Curtiss and English replace pitcher Lewis Thorpe and catcher Mitch Garver, who have been placed on the 7-day Disabled List.

The Twins selected Curtiss in the sixth round of the 2014 draft from the University of Texas. In nine games (six starts) at Elizabethton, he posted a 2-1 record and 2.30 ERA, allowing 35 hits and eight runs (all earned) with seven walks and 41 strikeouts in 31.1 innings.

The Twins selected English in the 11th round of the 2014 draft from the University of South Carolina. In 32 games at Elizabethton, he hit .316 with three home runs and 16 RBIs.

Thorpe goes on the DL with a left UCL sprain. In 16 starts for the Kernels, he posted a 3-2 record and 3.52 ERA, allowing 62 hits and 37 runs (28 earned) with 36 walks and 80 strikeouts in 71.2 innings.

Garver goes on the DL with a concussion suffered in the Kernels' first playoff game against Burlington. In 120 games for the Kernels, he hit .298 with 16 homers and 79 RBIs.

Curtiss and English will be active and available for Game 1 of the MWL Western Division Championship against Kane County Saturday night.




Kernels sting Bees, brace for Cougars

BURLINGTON - The Cedar Rapids Kernels came to Burlington Thursday night needing two straight wins over the Bees to advance to the second round of the Midwest League playoffs and that’s exactly what they accomplished.

The Kernels sent the Bees home for the season after topping them, 4-2, before 406 fans on a wet night at Community Field in Burlington.

Kernels won the best-of-3 series, 2-1, after losing the first game at home Wednesday.

The victory moves the Kernels into the semifinals of the Midwest League playoffs Saturday night at 6:35 against Kane County at Veterans Memorial Stadium in the Western Division finals in another best-of-3 engagement.

The second and third games (if necessary) are scheduled for Kane County Sunday and Monday.



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Kernels Calendar

April 3
2014 season opener

Midwest League Standings

Western Div.
xz-KERNELS (Twins) 48
Championship (Best-of-5)
x-Quad Cities (Astros) 43
.623 4.5
Wednesday, Sept. 11
xy-Beloit (A's) 34
35 .493 13.5
Quad Cities 3, South Bend 2
x-Clinton (Mariners)
.486 14.0
Thursday, Sept. 12
Burlington (Angels) 30
Quad Cities 5, South Bend 0
Peoria (Cardinals)
Saturday, Sept. 14
Wisconsin (Brewers) 30
Quad Cities 4, South Bend 2
Kane County (Cubs) 25
(Quad Cities wins series, 3-0)
Eastern Div.
xz-Bowling Green (Rays)
.629 --
x-Great Lakes (Dodgers)
.580 3.5
Dayton (Reds)
.529 7.0
xy-South Bend (D-Backs) 37
.529 7.0
West Michigan (Tigers)
.522 7.5
Lake County (Indians)

x-Fort Wayne (Padres) 29
Lansing (Blue Jays)

FINAL (2nd Half)
x-Clinched playoff; y-won 1st half; z-won 2nd half

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