Minor League Sports

Top Minnesota Twins prospect Wander Javier continues to struggle in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Kernels lose to Great Lakes

A splinter flies off the bat of Kernels shortstop Wander Javier (15) after he hits the ball during a Midwest League game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
A splinter flies off the bat of Kernels shortstop Wander Javier (15) after he hits the ball during a Midwest League game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Wander Javier reached on a fielding error in the fourth inning Friday night for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

That put runners at first and second with just one out, the makings of a potential rally. Then Javier was promptly picked off first base.

Just the way things have gone for a guy considered one of the top prospects in the Minnesota Twins farm system. To say he has been riding the struggle bus is an understatement.

The 20-year-old shortstop went 0-for-4 in C.R.’s 7-0 loss to Great Lakes at Veterans Memorial Stadium, dropping his batting average to .137 in 36 games. Not what anyone thought would happen when Javier was assigned to the Midwest League from extended spring training in late May.

“It just looks like he’s late to everything,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “He’s late getting the bat through the zone, he’s late getting set up. I know they’ve been working on trying to get him on time with a little more rhythm to hopefully get the bat through the zone more. We need to get him going.”

Javier came into the season as Minnesota’s No. 4 prospect, according to Baseball America. He signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for $4 million, a club-record amount for an international signee.

But injuries have bedeviled him in his four-year career. He played only nine games of Rookie ball in 2016 because of injury and missed all last season after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder.

He looked good in a couple of appearances in major league spring training this year but hurt a quadriceps while running after recording a hit in a game, and that kept him out of action for two months. He began well here, picking up at least one hit in six of his first seven games.

But he is just 6 for his last 86, a .070 average.

“He’s healthy. He’s fine,” Dinkelman assured. “I’m sure (not playing for over a year) had a little wear on him, shaking the rust off after not seeing live pitching for awhile. But I think we’re to the point now where he’s had over 100 at-bats, I would think the rust would be gone. Hopefully he can start playing like we know he can.

“Find a couple of knocks somewhere and get him a little confidence going. That’s half the battle when you’re not hitting and down on yourself.”

The Kernels (51-40, 12-9 second half) scored just three runs as they got swept in this three-game series. This has followed an eight-game win streak.

Starting pitcher Josh Winder (6-2) has been great all season for Cedar Rapids but gave up a season-high seven runs here, scoring on a pair of three-run home runs and a solo shot. He lost for the first time since May 6, though he did throw five innings, meaning he has gone that deep or deeper in all 15 of his starts.

Lansing comes to town for a three-game series that begins Saturday night at 6:35. The Lugnuts are an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

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

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