116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — You got a uniform, you got a chance. Thus, Erik Manoah Jr. keeps pitching.
One of the newest Cedar Rapids Kernels isn’t so new when it comes to professional baseball.
He’s the longest-tenured guy on the team pro-ball wise, with this his seventh season The right-hander was part of a brilliant bullpen performance Wednesday night in C.R.’s 5-3 win over Peoria at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Manoah threw two shutout innings. He and fellow relievers Jordan Gore, Melvi Acosta and Zach Featherstone picked up starter Cody Laweryson, who was taken out in the top of the first after accruing 35 pitches, the inning limit for guys in the Minnesota Twins farm system.
“The bullpen was awesome tonight,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “All four of those guys threw the ball well, putting up zeroes for 8 1/3 innings, giving our offense a chance to get back into the game.”
Now back to Manoah and his story of perseverance. He was a 13th-round draft pick in 2014 of the New York Mets out of high school in Florida.
The right-hander was released during the 2016 season and signed with the Los Angeles Angels, where he pitched for Burlington of the old Midwest League at the very end of the season and most of 2017.
The Angels released him during the 2019 season. The Twins picked him up following a stint this spring with West Virginia of the independent Atlantic League, and he has been dealing big time at low-A Fort Myers and here.
“After getting let go twice, your perspective just kind of changes,” Manoah said. “It’s not about ‘I have to do this. I have to do this.’ I play this game because I have the passion. I still feel like I have the ability to pitch in the big leagues. So I go out there every day, and I give it everything I have. When somebody gets fired from a job, it kind of changes your mindset. I have nothing to lose, I come out here stress free and ready to work every day.”
The 25-year-old right-hander has thrown five shutout innings for the Kernels and given up just one earned run in nine appearances this season overall. He is the older brother of Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah.
He’s had quite a journey.
“Just learning from previous mistakes,” Manoah said. “Going over video, coming up with a solid plan that I can just attack day in and day out. Not really have to sit here and try to reinvent the wheel.
“I have learned a lot, I have matured as I have gone. I am excited for what the rest of this year has in store for me.”
The Kernels (30-26) gave up three first-inning runs but scored three, including a Jair Camargo two-run home run. Two runs in the fifth won it.
Acosta picked up Laweryson with 2 1/3 shutout innings of relief. Gore was up next, giving up just one hit, striking out five in three innings and getting the win.
Then it was time for Manoah. Featherstone threw a hitless ninth for the save.
Not exactly how you want to draw up a victory, but it worked. The teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.
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