CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s listed on the roster as a shortstop, which is what he was growing up in Chicago and for two seasons at Kirkwood Community College.
He played short, second base and third base last summer in his professional baseball debut.
But Korry Howell was a center fielder for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in all three games of their series here against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He appears quite comfortable out there.
“The adjustment has been better than you would actually think,” Howell said Thursday night, before his team’s 2-0 win at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “It’s starting to become second nature, learning all the different things about the position, learning everything I can possibly learn since it is a new position for me. I’ve never played it before. But, day by day, it seems to be getting easier.”
Howell, 20, said he didn’t expect to be an outfielder when he was promoted from Milwaukee Brewers extended spring training to the Midwest League the first part of May. But he knows versatility can only aid him down the line.
He has taken this position switch in stride and with a great attitude.
“I would have hoped to stay in the infield for as long as I could,” he said. “But wherever they see me, whatever they ask of me, that’s what I’m going to do. If they see it as better for me to be in center field, then, hey, I’m going to go out there and play the best center field I can.”
A .232 hitter in 32 games going into Thursday night, Howell was a 12th-round draft pick of the Brewers last June, signing in early July and playing in the Arizona Rookie League. He’d been drafted the previous year as a freshman at Kirkwood by the Kansas City Royals but did not sign, saying he didn’t feel he was ready to be a pro.
At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, he has a center fielder’s body, as well as the speed for the position. Now it’s about getting game repetitions out there and in general, continuing to develop as a player.
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“It’s been less than a year, but it’s been everything I could have possibly imagined,” he said. “It’s just a dream, honestly, coming here and playing every day. And especially being in this league right now, close to home, being from Chicago. Cedar Rapids is a second home to me, being here the past two years. It’s everything I could have possibly wanted for myself.”
The Kernels (36-31) were shut out for the first time since May 13, collecting only four hits while giving up only four. Wisconsin was able to cobble together two runs in the sixth inning against C.R. reliever Alex Schick (1-1), a rally started by a Howell double.
The loss moved Cedar Rapids two games behind Burlington for second place in the Western Division and the final available first-half playoff spot. Burlington beat Kane County, 7-6, Thursday night.
Clinton comes to town for three games beginning Friday night to wrap first-half play.
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