Youngster Thorpe trying to feel his way with Kernels

Starting pitcher is youngest guy in Midwest League

CEDAR RAPIDS – He’s the youngest player in the Midwest League by quite a ways. But Lewis Thorpe won’t use that as an excuse for not succeeding.

“I don’t feel young,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher said, after his team’s 6-5 loss to Burlington before 3,505 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I just go out there and be me. It’s a game, and you’ve just got to have fun with it. It doesn’t matter how old anyone is. You’ve got to pitch and not be scared.”

Thorpe is 18 years and seven months old. The left-hander from Melbourne, Australia, was promoted from Minnesota Twins extended spring training last week and made his second low-Class A start here.

It was better than his first. He gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss at Kane County.

But there is still some work left to be done. Thorpe was solid through three innings, but allowed a couple of well-placed singles and four walks in a two-run Burlington fourth.

He was taken out after that.

“I think I got a little bit lazy with myself there,” he said. “Couldn’t find the right location, the right arm slot with my fastball in the fourth inning. I don’t know if it was fatigue or not. I didn’t feel fatigued. I just couldn’t find it in the fourth inning. I walked four guys, which shouldn’t happen.”

Thorpe isn’t an overpowering sort, so control and location are crucial for him. He was signed as an international free agent by the Twins as a 16-year-old in 2012 and dominated the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last season.

“He threw the ball pretty good early. Looked good early,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “We made an error behind him, and he had to throw more pitches. Maybe that caught up to him a little bit. He got to that fourth inning, and it just looked like he hit a wall. I don’t know if he ran out of gas or what. That’s his second outing where he gets to that fourth inning and has some issues.

“He’s not a guy that’s going to walk many guys. That’s kind of his M.O. I don’t think we’re seeing the real guy. I don’t know if he didn’t get stretched out in extended spring training, or if it’s just a different atmosphere here or what. But we’ve got to get it fixed going into the second half.”

Burlington (37-30) clinched the Western Division’s first-half wildcard playoff berth with the come-from-behind victory. The Bees scored twice in the fifth inning against Kernels reliever Jared Wilson, then twice more in the sixth against losing reliever Chris Mazza (0-2).

Cedar Rapids (30-38) had opportunities to at least tie it. They stranded runners on the corners in the sixth, a runner at first in the seventh and a runner at second in the eighth.

“That was a tough loss,” Mauer said.

Jason Kanzler hit a solo home run for the Kernels in the fifth. Tanner Vavra and Ryan Walker had two hits apiece.

The teams play again Saturday afternoon at 5:05. The first half concludes Sunday afternoon at 2:05.

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