When the Cedar Rapids Kernels return home from this week-long road trip to Lake County and Fort Wayne, you might not know some of the players. You'll definitely be missing some of the players.
The Kernels and parent Minnesota Twins are expected to announce the promotions of first baseman D.J. Hicks, outfielder J.D. Williams and relief pitchers Steve Gruver and Tyler Jones to high-Class A Fort Myers sometime today.
The four flew out of the Eastern Iowa Airport late Tuesday morning.
To replace them on the roster will be catcher Jairo Rodriguez (from Fort Myers) and pitchers Dallas Gallant and Tim Shibuya (from Rookie-level Elizabethton). Technically, Gallant already is on the Cedar Rapids roster and will be activated from the disabled list.
This is quite a shakeup for a Kernels team that is 56-36 overall and 16-8 in the Midwest League's second half. Hicks is hitting .297 with 13 home runs and league-leading 82 RBIs.
Williams has stepped nicely into the leadoff spot after the promotion of Byron Buxton, hitting .281 in 80 games with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases. Jones and Gruver have been the Kernels' most consistent relief pitchers: Gruver 5-2 with three saves and a 2.45 earned run average and Jones 4-3 with nine saves and a 1.93 ERA.
Rodriguez began this season with the Kernels before getting a promotion to Fort Myers. He hit .244 in 45 games for the Miracle.
Shibuya and Gallant both have prior Midwest League experience, pitching part of last season with the Beloit Snappers. Gallant was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in eight "rehab" games at Elizabethton. Shibuya was 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA in six games this season for the E-Twins.The Kernels' active roster is at 24 players, one shy of maximum.