Minor League Sports

Brian Dinkelman to return to manage Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021

Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman speaks to Trevor Casanova at third base during a Midwest League game against the Wiscons
Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman speaks to Trevor Casanova at third base during a Midwest League game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kernels are planning on having a 2021 season, and they’ve got the coaching staff to prove it.

The parent Minnesota Twins announced staffs for their four affiliates Tuesday, and Brian Dinkelman will return to manage the now high-Class A Kernels.

Dinkelman led the Kernels to a 78-62 record in 2019 and a first-round Midwest League playoff series victory. Prior to his managerial duties, Dinkelman was hitting coach for the Kernels.

He and his wife and daughter live in Cedar Rapids in the offseason.

“I’m really excited for baseball to be back this season,” Dinkelman said. “It will be fun to see faces and people at the ballpark enjoying the games again. I hope you are all looking forward to it as much as we are.”

The Twins announced Bryce Berg will be C.R.’s hitting coach. He is a Carroll Kuemper graduate who spent four years as a coach at Concordia University in Nebraska prior to getting into professional baseball.

Mark Moriarty and Richard Salazare are scheduled to be pitching coaches for the Kernels.

Moriarty originally was intended to be pitching coach for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Twins in 2020 prior to the season getting canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Salazar was a pitching coach for Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2019.

Jairo Rodriguez also will be a coach for the Kernels in 2021. He has been a player and coach in the Twins organization for 14 years.

Tyler Blair will be C.R. trainer, with Colin Feikles its strength and conditioning coach.

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“This is an exciting announcement. Brian is a great manager, and we can’t wait for this staff to join us here in Cedar Rapids and get to playing baseball again,” Kernels General Manager Scott Wilson said.

The Twins announced their other minor league managers will be Toby Gardenhire (Triple-A Saint Paul), Ramon Borrego (Double-A Wichita) and Aaron Sutton (low-A Fort Myers).

A schedule for the 2021 season has not been announced and is not expected to be released until sometime in February. The minor leagues have undergone a massive change with Major League Baseball essentially taking over all of its operations.

Cedar Rapids was one of 120 cities to be extended an invitation to be in affiliated baseball, with those not invited (such as Burlington and Clinton of the MWL) entering into college prospects leagues. Teams that agree to remain in affiliated ball must sign a licensing agreement with MLB that will include new ballpark specifications, among other things.

The agreements will last for 10 years. Costs for each minor league team are expected to rise dramatically.

The Kernels had to secure a loan in the fall to continue operations because of the lost 2020 season.

“We are preparing for the 2021 season,” Kernels CEO Doug Nelson said Tuesday.

Baseball America has reported Class A and Class AA players will not report to spring training until major league camp breaks in late March/early April, because of the pandemic. That would mean a Kernels season will not begin until likely May.

It has been previously reported that the normal 140-game minor league full season would be reduced to around 132 games. With the later spring training, that number likely will decrease further.

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

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