CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s not supposed to be as easy as Spencer Steer has made it look. It’s really not.
Hitting a baseball is arguably the toughest thing to do in all of sports. Multiply that by 100 when it comes to the professional level.
But Spencer Steer of the Cedar Rapids Kernels has been big-time bullish at the plate as a pro. A .342 batting average in his first 31 games does not lie.
“Yeah, it’s pro ball, but it’s still the same game as I’ve been playing my whole life,” said Steer, whose team lost Friday night to Wisconsin, 10-5, at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I don’t try and treat it any differently than I’ve been treating it. Obviously, it’s good to get off to a good start. But I’ve still got another 30, 40 games left, so I’ve got to try and stay as consistent as possible the next month and a half.”
Consistent? This kid has been that and then some.
A third-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in June out of the University of Oregon, he hit .325 in 20 games with Rookie-level Elizabethton after signing. The Long Beach, Calif., native went 5-for-5 in his penultimate game with the E-Twins.
Since coming to the Midwest League, the infielder is 16-for-43 in 11 games, which comes out to a cool .372 average. He was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored Friday for the Kernels (58-45 overall and 19-14 in the second half).
“I just think consistency is pretty much the big reason why I’ve been having success,” said Steer, 21. “I feel like I’ve just been consistent with my swings, consistent with my preparation, my approach. Kind of all that. All that kind of leads up to the results you are seeing in the games.”
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“He swings at strikes,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “His bat is in the zone for a long time. He is timing fastballs pretty good. He has had good at-bats ever since he’s been here and hitting the ball hard. He has been pretty good so far.”
Steer played shortstop at Oregon but has been a second baseman and third baseman primarily. He said he feels most comfortable in the middle of the diamond but realizes the more positions he can play, the better off he’ll be in his career.
It’s a career with a very quick start.
“I don’t really have a position at this point,” Steer said. “I’ve kind of been all over the place. My favorite position is shortstop. But (versatility), 100 percent, is important. The way baseball is going, with all the shifts and everything, you have got to be able to play different spots in the infield. I am already starting to experience that at this level. The more positions you are able to play, the more opportunities you are able to get.”
Wisconsin swooped to a 6-0 lead after three innings in knocking off Kernels starting pitcher Andrew Cabezas (4-6). Four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning made the spread a bit smaller.
Wander Javier had two hits and an RBI for Cedar Rapids. The Kernels begin a home series Saturday night at 6:35 against Clinton.
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