CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kernels’ most unsung player got moved up Saturday. All the way to Double-A.
Jordan Gore was promoted to the Chattanooga Lookouts, skipping the high-Class A level completely. To label the 23-year-old South Carolinian a utility infielder isn’t doing him justice.
The kid showed great versatility in being able to competently play second base, third base and shortstop. And don’t forget pitcher.
Out of bullpen arms in a first-half game, Manager Toby Gardenhire called upon Gore to mop up a ninth inning for his club, which was way behind. Despite not pitching since high school, he took the mound and chucked heaters clocked at 95 miles per hour.
“He’s got a great arm, as you saw there,” Gardenhire said. “He can really pick it defensively, too. Just one of those guys: a dirtball baseball player. Every good team needs a kid like him.”
Gore was drafted by the Minnesota Twins last year in the 19th round out of Coastal Carolina. He tore it up in Rookie ball and spent the last month with the Kernels as a reward.
There are prospects at each infield spot on this year’s Kernels team (Royce Lewis at shortstop, Jose Miranda at second base and Andrew Bechtold at third), leaving Gore as sort of an odd man out. But he has forced Gardenhire to write his name in the lineup most days.
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Gore posted a .307 average in 63 games before his promotion. Add his arm, defense and just being an overall “gamer,” and you’ve got something.
“He has been great,” Gardenhire said. “I like him because he is ‘Game on.’ He’s one of those guys who is a dirtball. He dives all over the place, plays dirty, which is the type of guy managers love to have. He is a guy you can put anywhere, and he’s not going to say anything about it. He won’t ever complain if you don’t have him in the lineup.
“Offensively, he has done a really nice job. He has improved. He has worked on a lot of things, and he has gotten better in his abilities. He is a good player. I really like him.”
Jordan Balazovic earns MWL honor
Kernels pitcher Jordan Balazovic was named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week last week.
The 19-year-old Canadian right-hander was stupendous in a July 1 start at Burlington, not allowing a hit in six innings and striking out 10.
Balazovic is 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in five games, four starts, since joining Cedar Rapids from extended spring training.
Brusdar Graterol struggles in first Fort Myers start
Pitcher Brusdar Graterol took the loss last week in his first start since being promoted from the Kernels to high-A Fort Myers.
The emerging prospect with the 100-mile-per-hour fastball allowed nine hits and five earned runs in three innings against Lakeland. He walked one and struck out three.
The 19-year-old right-hander made eight starts for the Kernels, going 3-2 with a 2.18 ERA.
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