CEDAR RAPIDS — Where’s Wander? Why he’s in Cedar Rapids. Finally.
The parent Minnesota Twins announced Saturday that highly-regarded shortstop prospect Wander Javier has been sent to the Cedar Rapids Kernels from extended spring training. Infielder Michael Davis also was activated from the injured list.
Infielder Hunter Lee was sent back to extended spring. Outfielder Jean Carlos Arias was given his outright release by the Twins.
Javier, 20, signed with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for $4 million. He is rated Minnesota’s No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, though he has been beset by injuries throughout his young career.
The right-handed hitter was limited to nine games in 2016 because of hamstring issues. He missed all last season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing, left shoulder that required surgery.
He impressed in six major league spring training games this March but suffered a quadriceps injury late that kept him in extended.
“A plus runner with plus athleticism, Javier shows plus range, a plus arm, and a true shortstop’s profile,” Baseball American wrote. “He has worked hard to improve his English and his body, which was wiry and a bit gangly when he signed.”
Javier is listed at 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds. He is a .301 career hitter in 50 professional games.
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The presence of Javier and Davis should improve the Kernels. Davis was hitting .295 in 15 games when he went on the IL in late April.
Lee hit .121 in 20 games for the Kernels. Arias played 79 games last season for the Kernels and was hitting .128 in 15 games this season.
Around the horn
• Going into Saturday night’s home game with Peoria, the Kernels had just 24 games remaining in the Midwest League’s first half. That includes a monster 13-game road trip that begins Tuesday night at Burlington and ends June 10 at Peoria. After three games at Burlington, Cedar Rapids plays three at Beloit, has an off day, then plays three games at Clinton and four at Peoria.
• Going into Saturday, the Kernels were five games out of a playoff spot. Quad Cities leads the Western Division with a 30-14 record that also is a Midwest League best. Burlington is in second place and possession of the other available first-half postseason berth in the division at 28-20, four games behind QC. Then it was Kane County at 26-22, Clinton at 24-23 and Cedar Rapids. In the Eastern Division, Great Lakes had a one-game lead on Lake County for first place. The top two teams in each division in each half will be playoff qualifiers, though third and fourth-place teams could make it in the second half, depending on the first and second-place finishers.
• Former Cedar Rapids Washington prep A.J. Puk is expected to be be close to going on a minor league rehab appearance. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that news last week. The left-hander was a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2016 but missed all last season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. Puk was considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball at the time of his injury, which occurred in spring training last year.
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