116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A kid from Saint Paul is making his way up through the minor leagues in hopes of someday being a hometown hero for baseball’s Minnesota Twins.
No, this isn’t a flashback from 20 years ago. This isn’t Joe Mauer.
It’s about Louie Varland, a pitcher for the Cedar Rapids Kernels who appears to be making a serious name for himself this season.
Varland helped cool the red-hot bats of the Quad Cities River Bandits in C.R.’s 4-2 win Friday night before a season-best crowd of 3,516. That continued a pattern of outstanding performances for the 23-year-old right-hander, whom the Twins drafted in 2019 out of Division II Concordia University in Saint Paul.
He began the season with low-Class A Fort Myers and got a promotion to the High-A Central League in middle July. Varland didn’t give up a run in his first three starts for the Kernels, spanning 16 innings.
Against the High-A Central’s best team and best offensive team, he pitched two outs into the sixth inning, allowing five hits and his first two runs since coming to town. Melvi Acosta and Zach Featherstone finished things out, with Featherstone gaining his seventh save with shutout eighth and ninth innings.
“With Louie, he has just a little bit of that low (arm) slot in his delivery,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “He’s got good (velocity). And I think just a little bit of deception with that velo, it makes it hard for hitters to pick up on it, his fastball. He’s got a slider and changeup that are both decent pitches to keep them off balance. But I think just the deception he provides, with that lower slot, makes it tougher for hitters.”
Varland’s fastball topped at 99 miles per hour in this game, sitting regularly at 94. Quad Cities came into this one on a seven-game win streak, including scoring eight runs in each of the first three games of this six-game series.
Thus, this was a legit performance and win. Varland is 6-3 overall this season, with a 1.70 earned run average in 13 appearances, 11 starts.
He has 98 strikeouts in 69 innings. Varland’s brother, Gus, is in the Oakland Athletics system, two of only four players ever drafted professionally out of Concordia.
The Kernels (45-37) didn’t do much after the first couple of innings offensively, but it didn’t matter. Cedar Rapids had its first five hitters reach base, picking up a first-inning three-spot that included a two-run single by Yunior Severino.
Matt Wallner’s RBI single in the second made it a 4-0 game. The teams play again Saturday night at 6:35.
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