116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s always cool to watch a guy come to the plate with a chance to complete the cycle.
Hitting a single, double, triple and home run in the same game doesn’t happen very often, and it’s one of baseball’s more sacred achievements.
But it probably wasn’t very realistic for Alex Isola of the Cedar Rapids Kernels to get it done in his final at-bat Tuesday night in the seventh inning. Veterans Memorial Stadium is a triples ballpark if you can hit it to the cavernous gap in right-center field, but triples aren’t exactly Isola’s thing.
He hasn’t had one in the first 67 games of his professional career. He didn’t have any in his three-year college career at Utah, Yavapai Junior College in Arizona or Texas Christian.
“I think I had one in high school,” Isola smiled, after his team blasted Peoria, 10-2. “I’m not a fast guy, I’m a catcher.”
No cycle but it was still a heck of a game for the 22-year-old California native. His three-run home run in the second inning gave the Kernels a nice early lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Isola doesn’t have the highest batting average around at .234, but his .817 OPS (on base plus slugging) leads the team when it comes to guys who play regularly.
That’s because he has seven home runs and a team-high 31 walks.
“Our hitting coach Bryce (Berg) does a great job of giving us some of the data. So for me, I try and go in with the understanding of what I’m going to do,” Isola said. “There are times when you go up there and you are just reacting. But if I can go in with a plan of executing based on the pitcher we’re facing that night because each pitcher is different …
“The big thing with the walks is just don’t give away at-bats. That’s the hardest part of baseball, it’s such a long season. You’ve really got to be competitive in there because there are a lot of strikeouts in baseball right now. I choke up with two strikes, so I feel like I foul off a lot of balls, I work deep into counts so I can get those walks at times.”
Isola was a 29th-round draft pick of the parent Minnesota Twins in 2019 and spent the end of that season with the Kernels. Cedar Rapids Manager Brian Dinkelman said he sees an entirely different player.
“I just feel like he has grown a lot as a hitter, as a player overall in a year since he was here (before),” Dinkelman said. “He has really improved his ABs, driving the ball a lot more for some power, which is good to see from him. He is improving every day as a player to try and become a more complete player.”
Isola said he was able to get in a lot of work on his game during the COVID-19 pandemic last year despite there being no season. He said he had no idea he needed a triple in his final at-bat to get the coveted cycle.
“Sometimes I am (aware), but tonight, I can honestly say I wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about it until somebody told me.”
The Kernels improved to 29-26, also getting a three-run homer from Jair Camargo. He drove in four in the game.
Starter and winner Ben Gross and relievers Ryan Shreve and Owen Griffith combined on a four-hitter. The teams play again Wednesday night at 6:35.
The Kernels have added pitcher Breckin Williams to their active roster. The Twins signed him as a minor league free agent after being released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Williams, 27, was a fourth-round draft pick of Arizona in 2015 out of the University of Missouri. He gave up 10 earned runs in two innings this season at Double-A Amarillo.
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