Two former MWL All-Stars involved in Twins-Marlins trade

Former Clinton LumberKings RHP Chris Vallimont was traded to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Minnesota Twins acquired RHP Sergio Romo from the Miami Marlins on Saturday in a four-player trade including two former Midwest League All-Stars.

The Twins parted with 2017 MWL All-Star first baseman Lewin Diaz to get Romo, 2019 MWL All-Star pitcher Chris Vallimont and a player to be named later.

Diaz played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2017, batting .292 with 12 homers, 33 doubles and 68 RBI in 122 games. He has played in 90 games in High-A and Double-A this season, cumulatively batting .294 with 48 extra-base hits and 62 runs batted in.

Vallimont began this season in the Midwest League before being promoted to High-A after starting for the Western Division in the MWL All-Star Game. He went 4-4 with a 2.99 ERA, 80 strikeouts and 26 walks in 69.1 innings/13 starts for the Clinton LumberKings.

Cedar Rapids Kernels 1B Lewin Diaz (No. 44) is greeted by Kane County Cougars OF Marcus Wilson after Diaz homered in the 2017 MWL All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, 2019 All-Star Game, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League | Leave a comment

SB’s Marquez dominates LC with 14K, one-hit performance

South Bend Cubs LHP Brailyn Marquez delivers a pitch during Thursday’s game against the Lake County Captains. (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

Top Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez made the most dominant start of his career Thursday as he racked up 14 strikeouts, allowed only one hit, and walked none in six innings of South Bend’s 4-1 win over the Lake County Captains.

The 20-year-old Dominican Republic native is the ninth pitcher in Minor League Baseball and the first in the Midwest League to strike out 14 or more batters in a game this season. He threw 53 of his 71 pitches for strikes.

Marquez is 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA, 94 strikeouts and 42 walks in 71.1 innings/16 starts for South Bend this season. Last season he made two starts for South Bend and 10 for the short-season Eugene Emeralds, cumulatively going 1-4 with a 3.13 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 16 walks in 54.2 innings.

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Andrews pitches ‘immaculate inning’ for LumberKings

J.D. Osborne homered for the LumberKings in Clinton’s 8-6 win over the Lake County Captains on Wednesday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Clinton LumberKings RHP Tanner Andrews did not have a good start against the Lake County Captains on Wednesday. But for one inning, he was immaculate.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Andrews struck out the side on nine pitches — a so-called “immaculate inning.” That was easily the highlight of the night for him, as he gave up a run in the 1st, four runs in the 3rd, and another run in the 5th. Clinton, however, scored five runs in the 1st and two runs in the 4th, so the LumberKings had a 7-6 lead when Andrews left after six innings.

Clinton scored once more in the 8th, and held on to win 8-6 and give Andrews a victory.

Evan Edwards hit a 3-run homer and J.D. Osborne hit a solo shot for the LumberKings. Peyton Burdick also drove in two runs for Clinton, and Christopher Torres had three hits and one RBI.

Jose Fermin and Ruben Cardenas each drove in a pair of runs for the Captains.

CR’s winning streak ends at 8

The Great Lakes Loons beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 6-2 on Wednesday, ending CR’s winning streak at eight games.

Prior to the game at Veterans Memorial Stadium, four people were inducted into the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame: former major-leaguers Hector Cruz (1970-72 Cedar Rapids Cardinals) and Jerry Reuss (1967 Cedar Rapids Cardinals), former Kernels manager Jake Mauer (2013-16), and Gary Keoppel, who served as a member of the club’s executive committee for 26 years. You can read more about each of their contributions to Cedar Rapids professional baseball here.

Bieber named All-Star Game MVP

Indians RHP Shane Bieber was named MVP of Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. He earned the honor by striking out the side in the 5th inning, fanning Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, Arizona Diamondbacks middle infielder/centerfielder Ketel Marte, and Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.

The American League won the game 4-3.

Bieber made five starts for the Captains in 2017, posting a 3.10 ERA and 31 strikeouts while walking only one batter in 29 innings in the Midwest League.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Former Lugnut Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stars in MLB HR Derby

In a first-time matchup of rookies in the final round of the MLB Home Run Derby, New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonzo beat Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 23-22.

But the general consensus is Guerrero — who played in the Midwest League just two years ago — was the real winner of the night.

“Vladito” blasted a record 91 homers during the derby, going deep 29 times in each of the first two rounds. (I’m not sure if he technically hit 40 home runs in the second round thanks to three exciting tiebreakers against Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, but all those homers definitely count toward his overall total for the event.)

Guerrero gave those of us viewing at home exactly what we hoped he would in the showcase event, and hopefully will continue to do exciting things on the diamond for many years to come.

Guerrero played for the Lansing Lugnuts in 2017, batting .316 with seven homers, 21 doubles, one triple, and six stolen bases in 71 games. He also participated in the Midwest League Home Run Derby that year — and finished second to then-Great Lakes Loons outfielder Carlos Rincon. (Read my post about that here.)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. played for the Lansing Lugnuts in 2017. (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

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Angels pitcher and ex-MWLer Tyler Skaggs dead at 27

Fans made a makeshift memorial to Tyler Skaggs outside Angel Stadium after hearing of the pitcher’s death Monday. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Orange County Register)

Los Angeles Angels LHP Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room Monday afternoon, just two days after his last start for the Halos.

Skaggs, a former pitcher for the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the South Bend Silver Hawks, was 27. While a cause of death hasn’t been released yet, a police spokesperson told reporters that neither foul play nor suicide are suspected.

Skaggs was drafted 40th overall by the Angels in 2009, and made his professional debut that year. He spent his first full pro season (2010) in the Midwest League, mostly with the Kernels, but finishing with the Silver Hawks after the Angels traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a deal to acquire pitcher Dan Haren. (The trade took place on July 25, but Skaggs technically wasn’t included in it until August 7 because of a then-rule preventing players from being traded before the one-year anniversary of when they signed their first contract. It was known he would be included in the deal once that date was reached, so he sat on the Kernels bench for about two weeks waiting for the transaction to be completed.)

Skaggs went 8-4 with a 3.61 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 21 walks in 82.1 innings (19 games/14 starts) for the Kernels. He went 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA, 20 strikeouts and four walks in 16 innings/four starts for the Silver Hawks.

Skaggs was roommates with Mike Trout when they both played for Cedar Rapids. (Read about that here.) Trout, now arguably the best player in baseball, won the Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year awards that season.

Skaggs was sent back to the Angels as part of a three-team trade in December 2013. He pitched in parts of seven seasons for the Angels and the Diamondbacks.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment