CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s way, way, way, way, way early to judge who was the winner. But the trade the Minnesota Twins made last week sending infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks appears promising for the Twins.
Three Class-A guys joined the Minnesota organization, two of them changing Midwest League teams from Kane County to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Outfielder Gabriel Maciel has shown well thus far in the everyday lineup.
Pitcher Jhoan Duran has made two starts and been dynamite. He got a tough no decision Sunday as the Kernels frittered away a late lead and lost to Beloit, 10-7, at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
But the 20-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic has a very good arm, and the surprise of being dealt hasn’t affected his performance. It has seemed to enhance it.
“I didn’t have that plan,” Duran said, through teammate and translator Jose Miranda. “But I feel good. I knew I was coming to a good team, one that’s in first place. I’m just trying to do my job.”
Duran threw seven hitless innings in his Kernels debut last week at Quad Cities and had a shutout going into the seventh here. He’s got a sinking fastball he throws around 91-92 miles per hour, a straighter heater he can pump to 96-97 and a breaking ball that got a number of swings and misses from Beloit batters.
“A power sinker,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “He’s got a sinker, and he gets guys to chase a lot down in the zone. Got a really good arm, has a four-seamer he runs up there close to 97 miles per hour. He can sink it at 91, 92. When he throws it down in a zone, it has a lot of movement. Pretty good stuff.”
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Duran tired in the seventh, allowing three of the first four Snappers hitters to reach, leaving with a 3-1 lead. Things went completely awry from there, with Beloit tying the game later in the inning against reliever Calvin Faucher and putting up a seven spot against Faucher and Rickey Ramirez in the eighth for the win.
Cedar Rapids (59-53 overall, 27-16 second half) has lost five games in a row, creating a three-way tie for first place in the MWL’s Western Division, with Beloit and Peoria. The Kernels and Snappers conclude their series Monday at noon.
“Struggled in the pen today,” Gardenhire said. ”Duran threw the ball really good. He went back out there for the seventh with 80-some pitches, was cruising pretty well, walked the leadoff guy, and that’s always a sign of trouble. We got him out of there, and I thought we had a decent setup still, but we just didn’t do a whole lot after that. Faucher struggled, and Ramirez came in and struggled, too. Tough day for the bullpen.”
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