The Twins sent several top prospects to town, prospects that Twins fans in town and in the area wanted to see. Twins fans all over the Midwest wanted to see, for that matter.
Kernels General Manager Doug Nelson said his club sold approximately 10,000 tickets to fans from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, which is major Twins territory. It was not uncommon, for instance, to see Twin Citians make the trip south for a weekend series.
The Kernels were surprised by the numbers.
"Yes, very much so," he said. "We didn't expect that many people. We did anticipate some (attendance) bump being with the Twins, but not that big."
Cedar Rapids drew 180,688 fans for 67 home dates. In their final season as an affiliate with the Los Angeles Angels (2012), the Kernels drew 160,064 in 69 home dates.
Though guys like Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Adam Brett Walker have moved on to higher minor-league levels, Nelson thinks a touted pitching staff that includes last year's fourth-overall draft pick, Kohl Stewart, will keep bringing Twins fans from afar to Cedar Rapids.
Local/Area Players In The Minors
We'll update how guys from the Cedar Rapids area are doing in the minor leagues each week and provide some interviews with them. Here is where players have been assigned to begin the season:
- Chad Christensen (Cedar Rapids Washington/University of Nebraska) - Utility player for the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins) of the low-Class A Midwest League.
- Dakota Freese (Cedar Rapids Washington/Des Moines Area Community College) - Is in extended spring training for the Oakland Athletics.
- Andrew Hanse (Linn-Mar/University of Iowa) - Relief pitcher for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays) of the low-A Midwest League.
- Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier/University of Tampa) - Pitcher for the Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles) of the low-Class A South Atlantic League.
- Derrick Loveless (Solon) - Playing outfield in the Midwest League for the Lansing Lugnuts (Blue Jays).
- Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie/DMACC) - A California League all-star a season ago, Schebler begins 2014 with Double-A Chattanooga (Dodgers) of the Southern League.
- Kellen Sweeney (Cedar Rapids Jefferson) - Third baseman beginning the season on the disabled list at high-Class A Dunedin (Blue Jays) of the Florida State League.