Minors : : General
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buxton among Kernels All-Stars

Matt Rodriguez        
Photo: Cedar Rapids Kernels

The star-studded Cedar Rapids Kernels will have their presence felt at the 49th annual MWL All-Star Game in Dayton, Ohio, and so will Perfect Game. Cedar Rapids is sending eight players, including four starters, to the summer classic. Four starters is the most by any team represented in the contest. Of the eight Kernels all-stars, seven are Perfect Game alumni.

Leading the way is five-tool center fielder Byron Buxton. Buxton leads the league in runs (59), on-base percentage (.439), slugging percentage (.562), OPS (1.001), and batting average (.342).

It feels good to be announced to the All-Star team,” said Buxton. “God blessed me with the ability to play the game, so all praises go to Him.”

Buxton, the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, continues to excel at the plate and is likely to get a call-up soon. He is the 18th
 ranked prospect according to MLB.com, and the No. 1 prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization according to Baseball Prospectus. Buxton participated in numerous Perfect Game tournaments as an amateur.

Dalton Hicks, the first baseman for the Kernels, was also named a starter to the MWL West All-Star team. Hicks is leading the league in RBI (51), is second in doubles (20), and third in total bases (113).

It’s an honor to be selected for things like that,” Hicks said when asked about being selected to the All-Star team. “It helps having guys like Buxton and J.D. (Williams) in front of me. They get on (base) and it makes my job a lot easier.”

As a Perfect Game alumnus, Hicks played in several tournaments, including two WWBA World Championships. Hicks played for Elizabethton in the Appalachian League last year after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins out of the University of Central Florida. He has been a member of the Cedar Rapids Kernels since the start of this season.

Right fielder Adam Brett Walker will be occupying the outfield alongside Buxton. Walker has been the power in the Kernels lineup to this point in the season, leading the team with 10 home runs, good for fourth most in the league. He is also second in the league with RBI (50), trailing only Hicks, and is third in the league in slugging percentage (.521).

It’s a privilege just to be out there,” Walker said, talking about his All-Star selection.

Being a starter isn’t enough for Walker, though. “We could all do a little better. We just have to keep working hard and coming out trying our best.”

Walker was a third round selection by the Twins in last year’s draft and started in Elizabethton with current teammate, Dalton Hicks. Walker is the No. 19 prospect in the Twins minor-league system.

Jorge Polanco will anchor the shortstop position in the All-Star game. Polanco is tied for second in he league in triples, with seven. The shortstop from the Dominican Republic has been in the Twins organization since he was 16-years old. He is second on the team in runs (37), and third in batting average (.292).

Polanco, now 19 years old, appreciates the recognition his play has gotten from the rest of the league. “It means a lot to me,” said Polanco. “I just gotta keep working hard and improve on my hitting.” He is the No. 18 prospect in the Twins organization.

Reserves include third baseman Travis Harrison, infielder Niko Goodrum, and pitchers Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios. All three are Perfect Game alumni.

The eight Kernels selected will surround themselves with the best talent in the Midwest League when they will all gather at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio on June 18th.

It’s a great opportunity to play with the guys we’ve played against,” said Buxton.

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