SPORTS

All C.R. Kernels second baseman Luis Arraez does is hit

Collects single, double in team's 8-4 win over Peoria

Second baseman Luis Arraez hits a foul ball at the Kernels’ game against the South Bend Cubs at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Second baseman Luis Arraez hits a foul ball at the Kernels’ game against the South Bend Cubs at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Luis Arraez unwraps the black tape around his right wrist to show you. There’s still a big knot on the inside of that wrist.

The diagnosis is an inflamed vein, of all things.

“I went to the cage (the other day) to swing and ...,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels second baseman said.

He didn’t have to finish the thought. He was in pain, enough to keep him out of the lineup for a couple of days.

Arraez returned Sunday with two hits and was 4-for-5 Monday night in an 8-4 win over Peoria at Veterans Memorial Stadium. That’s what the 19-year-old from Venezuela has done all season.

Just hit.

“He’s got a knack for finding the barrel,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “He’s an important part of our offense, that’s for sure.”

Arraez has a.343 batting average, good enough to run away with the Midwest League batting title most years. But he’s second to West Michigan’s Will Maddox (.347) this season.

“From the moment I got here, all I’ve been thinking about is working hard and trying to earn my spot in the lineup,” said Arraez, through teammate and translator Kevin Garcia. “Just the work ethic, keep working in the cage every day. Not change a thing. That will take your further than anything else.”

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Arraez signed with the Minnesota Twins as a 16-year-old in November 2013. He had a .348 batting average his first pro season for the Dominican Summer League Twins and a .309 mark last season with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Twins.

As was said, all he does is hit. From the left side, by the way.

Arraez is tied for third in the MWL in hits with 128. He’s got a team-high 26 doubles, three triples, three home runs and is second on the team with 54 RBIs.

He came into Monday leading the league by a wide margin in lowest TPA/SO (total plate appearances/strikeout) ratio at 9.78.

“I need to work on my physique, work on my speed,” Arraez said, through Garcia.

The question surrounding Arraez at this point is what his ultimate position will be. His bat profiles best at shortstop, though he probably doesn’t have the range or arm strength to play there.

He has played third base in three games for the Kernels and said he has some experience playing left field in Venezuela. Bottom line is if you hit, they will find a place for you to play.

“No idea,” Arraez said in English, when asked if he felt this season has made him a legitimate prospect.

The Kernels (61-52, 25-19 second half) ended a four-game losing streak behind a 17-hit attack. Every starter had at least one, with Christian Ibarra singling three times and driving in two runs.

The teams conclude their four-game series Tuesday night at 6:35.

After the game, Ibarra was promoted to high-Class A Fort Myers. He finished with a 13-game hitting streak here, going 13 for his final 24.

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Infielder Manuel Guzman was sent to Rookie-level Elizabethton. Coming in from E-town are infielders Travis Blankenhorn and Brandon Lopez.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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