CEDAR RAPIDS — The backup plan was to go ahead, finish school and then try and find a job. A regular job.
Giving independent baseball a shot was going to be considered, though he was definitely on the fence about it.
When the 40th and final round of last year’s Major League Baseball Draft rolled around, and he had not seen or heard his named called, the backup plan looked like it was going to have to go into effect. Then Tyler Webb heard his mother scream.
“I was like ‘What is going on?’” the Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder said Friday night, after his two-out, two-run double gave his brand-new team a 3-2 win over Burlington at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “She told me ‘You just got picked!’”
Yep, the Minnesota Twins had taken the senior from the University of Memphis with the 1,204th overall selection. Ten more guys went after him to complete the 1,214-pick, three-day draft.
Webb was going to get his chance to play ball professionally.
“The round didn’t really matter to me,” he said. “I was a senior signee, so I’d have been in the same situation no matter where I got drafted. I look at it as kind of having a chip on my shoulder. I come out here and play hard every day and prove myself.”
Webb was hitting over .300 in his first couple of weeks at Rookie-level Elizabethton when he was promoted to the Midwest League a couple of days ago. This was his first game with the Kernels.
With Gilberto Celestino on second base and Gabe Snyder on first, Webb worked a full count against Burlington relief pitcher Tyler Smith (5-3), then lobbed a Smith slider into right-center field for a hit that scored Celestino.
When Burlington outfielders Spencer Griffin and Nonie Williams allowed the ball to get past them, Snyder scored, too, with Kernels players sprinting onto the field to mob Webb at second base. He was credited with a two-run double, a Webb Gem.
“(Smith) was pretty heavy slider (usage) there, and that was his best pitch at the time,” Webb said. “I was looking for it, and he gave it to me. I was a little late on it, but I got it done, right?”
The Kernels (48-37, 9-6 second half) won their season-high fifth game in a row. Though he gave up a go-ahead solo home run to Tim Millard in the eighth, reliever Carlos Suniaga (3-2) got the pitching win for C.R.
Starter Josh Winder continued his great season, going the first seven innings, allowing just three hits, including an Alvaro Rubalcaba solo home run, walking none and striking out eight.
The right-hander has thrown at least five innings in all 14 of his starts, including at least six in his last seven starts. He is third in the MWL with a 2.32 earned run average, leads in innings and is third in WHIP.
You’d have to think a promotion to high-Class A Fort Myers is imminent at this point.
The Kernels placed catcher Ben Rodriguez on the Injured List prior to Friday night’s game with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Manager Brian Dinkelman guessed a replacement for him on the active roster will come sometime this weekend, as Cedar Rapids is at 24 active players, one shy of maximum.
The Kernels begin a series at Quad Cities on Saturday night.
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