Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids Kernels continue to play through a constantly rotating roster

Kernels shut out Wednesday night by Wisconsin, 4-0

Kernels second baseman Daniel Ozoria (9) reacts as Jesus Lujano of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (7) is ruled safe at second base during a Midwest League game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Kernels second baseman Daniel Ozoria (9) reacts as Jesus Lujano of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (7) is ruled safe at second base during a Midwest League game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — You can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Do they even sell scorecards at ballparks anymore?

They do give out rosters for every game at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Which is good, considering you never know week to week (day to day, really) who is playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

There was another personnel transaction before Wednesday night’s 4-0 loss to Wisconsin, when it was announced pitcher Petru Balan was sent to the inactive list. The second-ever professional baseball player from the Eastern European country of Moldova is off to play in an international tournament with Russia.

Balan had just joined the Kernels over the weekend from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, replacing pitcher Kody Funderburk, who went on the Injured List. Funderburk has only been around here since late May.

You get the theme here.

“The last couple of weeks have been a little hectic,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “But it usually happens this time of year with the all-star break and everything. Guys moving in, getting new players in. So it’s not unusual. You give guys a chance to play, and see what they can do.”

Cedar Rapids had 42 guys play here at one time or another in the first half, which is quite a bit higher than normal. Remember, the active roster always is a maximum 25.

Since the Midwest League All-Star Game and subsequent three-day break last week, four Kernels were promoted to high-Class A Fort Myers: third baseman Andrew Bechtold, outfielder Gabriel Maciel and relief pitchers Zach Neff and Derek Molina. One guy (reliever Frandy Torres) was sent to Rookie ball and two (Funderburk and infielder Ricky De La Torre) were placed on the IL.

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As mentioned, Balan was added, then subtracted. Infielder Daniel Ozoria and catcher Trevor Casanova came in from Rookie ball, pitcher Tanner Howell from high-A and pitcher Tyler Palm from Double-A.

Palm was on the opening-day roster here, went on the IL, returned and was promoted. Now he’s back.

Did you get all that? More moves are on the way, as the Kernels’ active roster is only 23 at the moment.

The great thing is they’ve played through all of this, surging late in the first half to steal second place in the Midwest League’s Western Division and a subsequent playoff spot. Though they lost Wednesday, they are 3-3 in the second half, 42-34 overall.

“We’ve played pretty well,” Dinkelman said. “You look at guys like Estamy Urena, like we talked about last night. He’s getting a chance to play a lot at third base now. Had a big hit last night. Ozoria has come up here with a couple of injuries. It’s good for guys to get a little exposure, get some at-bats and innings.”

Cedar Rapids was no-hit through 6 1/3 innings Tuesday night before rallying for a win Wednesday, but there was no such comeback in this one. Wisconsin pitchers Justin Jarvis and Robbie Hitt combined on a four-hitter, with the Kernels having only one baserunner get as far as third base.

Starting pitcher Austin Schulfer (5-4) threw a real good six innings for C.R. but took the hard-luck loss. The teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.

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

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