CEDAR RAPIDS — Jacob Pearson is the answer to a baseball trivia question.
Who did the Minnesota Twins acquire for Shohei Otani? Well, it’s not quite as simple as that.
Pearson, an outfielder drafted in the third round last season out of high school by the Los Angeles Angels, was picked up this spring by the Twins. Minnesota gave the Angels $1 million in international bonus pool slot money they used to pick up Japanese two-way star Otani.
Pearson found his way to Cedar Rapids late last week when he was assigned to the Kernels from extended spring training. He made his Veterans Memorial Stadium debut Saturday night in the second game of a double-header against Clinton, going 2-for-4.
The Kernels were swept, 4-1 and 9-4.
“It’s just something I can keep in my back pocket, you know?” Pearson said, with a smile. “If all things go wrong. But, no, it’s pretty cool. A lot of guys talk about it. The Angels knew what was best for them, and they got what they wanted.”
The 6-foot-1, lefty swinging Pearson was thought of enough by the Angels that they gave him an above-slot bonus of $1 million to buy him out of a commitment to college power LSU. He hit only .226 last season in Rookie ball, but has good speed and tools.
Needless to say, he was side-swiped about the trade. He’d only been in the Angels organization for five-plus months.
“That was kind of nerveracking,” he said. “I’m still getting to know a bunch of guys, changing organizations and everything. But getting called up to Cedar Rapids, I haven’t stopped smiling since I’ve been up here. I feel like I’m bringing something to the table now, instead of just practicing in extended day in and day out. I get to go out and play games.”
Clinton (26-21) scored five runs in a disastrous fifth inning for the Kernels to break a 3-3 tie. C.R. pitchers Jose Martinez and Calvin Faucher combined to allow three hits, walk four and throw two wild pitches.
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With another double-header on tap Sunday at 2:05, the Kernels were forced to go with infielder Jordan Gore as an emergency pitcher in the seventh inning. Gore gave up a leadoff double, then walked three in a row, but got the next three outs.
His fastball was clocked as high as 95 miles per hour.
Speaking of speedy pitchers, C.R.’s Brusdar Graterol hit 100 MPH four times in his first-game start, though he ended up taking the loss thanks to a two-run home run by Dimas Ojeda and solo shot by Ariel Sandoval. Graterol (2-1) threw 90 pitches in six innings, allowing five hits, no walks and striking out nine.
Cedar Rapids scored just one unearned run in the opener. In Game 2, Royce Lewis had a two-run double, Jean Carlos Arias a two-run single, Shane Carrier a solo home run and Alex Kirilloff a sacrifice fly.
Somehow, the Kernels brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh, but Clinton reliever Matt Clancy struck out Ben Rortvedt swinging to end a long night of baseball.
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