Jaylin Davis overcomes shoulder injury, playing well early for C.R. Kernels

Cedar Rapids loses 3rd straight to Kane County, 11-9

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CEDAR RAPIDS — When you hurt your shoulder bad enough to have surgery, you don’t expect a major league team to draft you. Especially when you have another year of college baseball available to you.

But the Minnesota Twins saw something in Jaylin Davis and convinced him to sign. The Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder was taken in the 24th round last year, despite tearing the labrum in his right, throwing shoulder while diving for a ball in a game for Appalachian State.

The injury cost him virtually his entire junior season.

“I thought I still had a little chance to get drafted,” Davis said Sunday, after the Kernels lost to Kane County, 11-9, in an affair at Veterans Memorial Stadium whose start was delayed by 49 minutes because of rain. “There were a couple of teams that were interested in me. I feel great now, almost back to normal. It was a little rough having to go through it. Probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.

Davis, 22, has been very solid in his five games since coming from Rookie-level Elizabethton. He hit seven home runs in 16 games for the E-Twins but has yet to go deep here.

The scouting report somehow has made its way from the Appalachian League to the Midwest League, as Davis has seen an inordinate amount of breaking balls.

“To see this much this early, yes, that’s a little surprising,” he said. “I think I’m settling in pretty good right now. At first, I was a little nervous. But, now, I’m good. I felt good at E-town. Was locked in.”

Davis went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks Sunday, improving his early batting average to .333. He also has been solid defensively in the outfield.

He was in a sling for two months after surgery last spring but rehabbed and played last fall in the Twins’ instructional league. He hung back in extended spring training before finally getting some game action at E-town.

“I think he competes at the plate,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “He’s got good bat speed. I’m impressed that he has taken some walks, had heard he was kind of a free swinger. Haven’t really seen that, yet. Hit the ball the other way good last night, had a big RBI ... If he keeps swinging the bat like he has been, he’s going to help us.”

The Kernels (44-43, 8-10) need some help, as they’ve dropped the first three games of this four-game series. The finale is Monday afternoon at 12:05.

Cedar Rapids had a 7-6 lead heading to the seventh, but the Cougars scored a pair of unearned runs against reliever Kuo Hua Lo (0-1). Lo’s own throwing error on a leadoff bunt attempt led to the runs.

Kane County scored three more times in the ninth for an 11-7 lead. A two-run Brian Olson double in the bottom half brought the tying run to the plate, but Rainis Silva grounded to short to end it.

“We beat ourselves, really,” Mauer said. “We don’t make a play on two bunts, give them extra outs. It’s frustrating. That’s kind of the way it is right now. We play just close enough. We don’t play well enough to win.”

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

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