Minor League Sports

Minor League Notebook: Andrew Bechtold of Cedar Rapids Kernels seeks to get his bat untracked

Cedar Rapids' Andrew Bechtold (7) is safe at third base while Kane County's Joey Rose (8) waits for the throw from the outfield during a Midwest League game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids' Andrew Bechtold (7) is safe at third base while Kane County's Joey Rose (8) waits for the throw from the outfield during a Midwest League game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — When a guy’s wearing an 0-fer, you don’t really want to tip him off as to the specifics of that 0-fer.

For one, he probably knows anyway. For two, you don’t want to get punched when you bring it up in a conversation.

“It was high,” Cedar Rapids Kernels third baseman Andrew Bechtold said after his team’s 9-2 win Friday night over Clinton at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I know that.”

Bechtold wasn’t told he had snapped an 0-for-25 batting slump with a sharp single in his third at-bat. It didn’t really matter anyway.

The pressure is kind of off now, and the Philadelphia native can go back to doing what he did in his college career and in his first taste of professional baseball. Just hit.

“I’ve been working a lot with Dink (hitting coach Brian Dinkelman) about just kind of being short to the ball,” Bechtold said. “My struggles early on have been when I’ve gotten a little long through the zone, so we’re just trying to shorten that up. I think sometimes I don’t know my own power, so I try to put a little too much into it. So, really, if I stay short to the ball and stay through the ball, I’ll have a lot more success.

“It’s an ongoing thing. You are not just going to flip a switch and have it happen overnight. It’s a process. But to see some results tonight. Hopefully come back this weekend (strong). Once we get it going, we’ll be fine. It’s just getting it going.”

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That’s the perfect way to react to adversity every minor leaguer goes through. Bechtold hit .299 in 43 games last season with Rookie-level Elizabethton after signing as a fifth-round pick of the Minnesota Twins out of Chipola Junior College in Florida.

Bechtold, 22, actually began at the University of Maryland, red-shirting one year and deciding to look for a new school after his second.

“Just kind of needed a change,” he said. “Best thing I ever did. I just did what I’m doing now. Just simplify things ... and I really saw an uptick in everything I did. Power, hitting, defense, everything. My development there really helped me.”

Baseball America listed him as Minnesota’s No. 25 prospect going into this season, but May, in particular, has been difficult for him. Bechtold is hitting just .168 in 35 games, with strikeouts in one-third of his at-bats.

More was expected, but, as he points out, there are still three-plus months of the Midwest League season to get things turned around.

“He’s working on some stuff,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “Gets through the zone a little long for me, but that’s something he’s working on. He’s working on a lot in the cage. Sometimes it takes a little time. He’s been going through some tough times, trying some different things, but that’s all a part of minor league baseball ... He’s just got to stay confident and keep working on the things he’s working on.”

Bechtold was asked about that confidence thing and if he feels he’s pressing.

“I think that’s just kind of the nature of the game,” he said. “I know I’m a lot better than what I’ve been doing. I also know that the struggles all throughout the minor leagues are going to come. To say I put pressure on myself, I’d say, yeah, everyone does. But I just know that I come in every day, and it’s a new day. I’m taking it at-bat by at-bat.”

Cascade's Colin Rea continues rehab

San Diego Padres pitcher Colin Rea of Cascade is trying to make it back from Tommy John elbow surgery, but his lat keeps getting in the way.

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The 27-year-old pitcher incurred a lat strain in spring training and had his first official rehab appearance last week for Double-A San Antonio. The right-hander allowed six hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings against Tulsa.

Rea missed all of 2017 with elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

Rays promote 2-way player Brendan McKay

The Tampa Bay Rays recently promoted 2017 first-round draft pick Brendan McKay to high-Class A Charlotte, after he tore it up for Bowling Green of the Midwest League.

The former University of Louisville product is trying to be a pitcher and hitter in the big leagues, in the same mold as Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels.

McKay went 2-0 with a 1.09 earned run average in six starts for BG, allowing just eight hits and two walks in 24 1/3 innings, striking out 40. As a hitter, he had a .254 average in 21 games, with an absurd walk-to-strikeout ratio of 28-13.

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