Diamonds and Ice

Cedar Rapids Kernels 2009 roster

Here’s the opening-day roster for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The team is scheduled to fly into Cedar Rapids this afternoon to prepare for the season opener, which is Thursday night at 6:30 at home against the Beloit Snappers.

There are 10 players on the roster that have played in Cedar Rapids before: infielders Alexi Amarista, Hector Estrella, Carlos Colmenares and Gabe Jacobo, outfielder Angel Castillo and catchers Anel De Los Santos and C.J. Bressoud and pitchers Michael Davitt, Chris Armstrong and Vladimir Veras.

Veras missed all of last season with an arm injury, pitching some for the Kernels in 2007. Interesting that two guys that lit up the Rookie-level Pioneer League for Orem last season (that’s the level before the Kernels in the parent Los Angeles Angels farm system) aren’t on the roster and presumably headed for high-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Third baseman Luis Jimenez led the Pioneer League in home runs last season with 15, hitting .331. First baseman Roberto Lopez hit a league-high .400 with 14 home runs and league-best 72 RBIs. Remember that’s all in a half-season.

Anyway, here’s the opening-day roster:


Chris Armstrong 5-10 195 L/L Owasso OK 02/10/88 14th Rd – 2006 Salt Lake/Cedar Rapids

Manuarys Correa 6-3 170 R/R San Cristobal DR 01/05/89 2007 Free Agent AZL Angels/Orem

Michael Davitt 6-5 205 R/R Shreveport LA 09/08/86 29th Rd – 2006 Cedar Rapids

Manuel Flores 6-2 170 L/L Anzoategui VZ 06/01/87 2006 Free Agent AZL Angels

Mike Kohn 6-2 210 R/R Camden SC 06/26/86 13th Rd – 2008 Orem

Jayson Miller 5-11 170 L/L Yakima WA 11/25/85 30th Rd – 2008 Orem

Kevin Nabors 6-3 220 R/R Spanish Fort AL 08/12/85 26th Rd – 2008 Orem

Christian Scholl 5-11 195 R/R Tacoma WA 10/27/87 8th Rd – 2008 Orem

Will Smith 6-2 220 R/R Newnan GA 07/10/89 7th Rd – 2008 Orem

Andrew Taylor 6-1 190 R/L Wake Forest NC 08/18/86 34th Rd – 2008 Orem

Jeremy Thorne 6-4 250 R/R Lakeland FL 10/04/85 29th Rd – 2008 AZL Angels/Orem

Vladmir Veras 6-0 150 R/R Santiago DR 01/10/86 2003 Free Agent Injured – Did Not Play



Catchers (3) Ht. Wt. B/T Resides DOB Acquired 2008 Team

C.J. Bressoud 6-2 195 R/R Kennesaw GA 05/12/85 2008 Free Agent Cedar Rapids/Rancho C.

Beau Brooks 6-1 200 L/R Oklahoma City OK 08/03/87 20th Rd – 2008 AZL Angels/Orem

Anel De Los Santos 6-0 190 R/R San Cristobal DR 06/19/88 2005 Free Agent Cedar Rapids/Arkansas



Infielders (6) Ht. Wt. B/T Resides DOB Acquired 2008 Team

Alexi Amarista 5-8 150 S/R Barcelano VZ 04/06/89 2007 Free Agent AZL/Cedar Rapids

Hector Estrella 5-11 175 R/R Los Angeles CA 12/22/84 40th Rd – 2007 Cedar Rapids

Gabe Jacobo 6-2 190 R/R Tulare CA 04/14/87 10th Rd – 2008 Orem/Cedar Rapids

Darwin Perez 6-0 185 L/L San Joaquin de Turmero VZ 07/27/89 2005 Free Agent Orem/Rancho C.

Jon Townsend 6-0 195 R/R Birmingham AL 09/24/84 2008 Free Agent Orem

Adam Younger 6-2 205 R/R Fort Myers FL 08/25/85 18th Rd – 2008 AZL Angels



Outfielders (4) Ht. Wt. B/T Resides DOB Acquired 2008 Team

Robert Auer 6-0 190 R/R Deland FL 10/24/85 2008 Free Agent Orem

Angel Castillo 6-3 190 R/R Caracas VZ 06/07/89 2005 Free Agent Cedar Rapids/Orem

Carlos Colmenares 6-0 175 S/R Valencia VZ 02/11/86 2004 Free Agent Rancho/Orem/Kernels

Matt Crawford 6-0 165 S/R Waycross GA 05/09/86 23rd Rd – 2008 AZL Angels


Despite economy, Kernels doing OK

Despite the worst economy this country has seen in decades and the fact that Cedar Rapids is still in recovery mode from last summer’s devastating floods, Cedar Rapids Kernels General Manager Jack Roeder said Tuesday his Midwest League baseball club is in good shape from a financial standpoint.

“We’re really doing very well, all things considered,” Roeder said. “We’ve spent time with the other teams in the Midwest League. We had a Midwest League spring meeting, and there’s a lot of clubs who are struggling in some areas. We can’t say that we’re struggling in any areas.”

Roeder said he breaks things down into three categories: season-ticket sales, advertising sales and group sales. The Kernels have sold roughly 350 season tickets for the 2009 season, which begins next week, including a new 10-game ticket voucher package. That’s on par with previous seasons.

Advertising also is doing well. The only area where the club is experiencing some downturn is in group sales, though Roeder said he is confident that will pick up as the season starts.

“When all is said and done, we’re ahead of last year’s season-ticket sales and at or close to our advertising goal,” Roeder said. “The one area where maybe we’re down in in groups.

“I have to give our staff a lot of credit for going out in the community over the winter months. They’ve done a very good job. I feel if you are a reasonably priced and provide good entertainment value, people are going to support you. I think we are reasonably priced and that we’ve got a good product to sell. That is an advantage during these tough times.”

There has been some bad timing, though, in that the Kernels are raising ticket prices by a dollar this season. Individual game tickets range from $7 to $10. It’s the second time since the newer Memorial Stadium opened eight years ago, that ticket prices have risen.

Roeder said the increased prices do not affect group tickets.

“We have a lot of loyal fans and supporters out there,” Roeder said. “We raised the prices last fall, before the downturn in the economy. We’ve raised just walk-up tickets, not group. I still think it’s a great value.”

Among the Kernels’ more interesting promotions this summer is an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders June 18, Zach Johnson bobblehead day June 21 and an appearance by San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding only July 5.

Roeder said Kaeding also will sign autographs. He is scheduled to kick 20 footballs into the stands for fans, and will have a baseball card of himself passed out.

“Again, we just feel very fortunate that we are doing OK during these tough economic times,” Roeder said.

The season opens April 9 at home against Beloit. The team is scheduled to arrive in Cedar Rapids late Monday afternoon.

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

A chat with new Kernels skipper Bill Mosiello

Bill Mosiello

Bill Mosiello

Was able to catch up with 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Bill Mosiello via phone Monday afternoon. Seems like a very good guy, which continues the string of “good guy” managers the Kernels have had in recent seasons.

Here’s a short story on Mosiello that’ll run sometime in the newspaper this week:

By Jeff Johnson
The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS – He had an offer on the table from the Colorado Rockies. Then the Los Angeles Angels called Bill Mosiello that same day, and his summer destination was clear … Cedar Rapids.
“God’s a great man, and he has done some great things for me in my life,” the 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager said. “When that happened, it was a no-brainer.”
Mosiello, 44, takes over a Kernels club that was originally supposed to be led by 2008 manager Keith Johnson. But longtime minor-league field coordinator Bruce Hines left the Angels in early January to take a major league job with Seattle, causing a ripple effect of moves, with Johnson being promoted to high-Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
Having pro experience as a manager and hitting coach in the New York Yankees system, Mosiello was hired by the Angels in late January. He had been an assistant coach at Auburn University, with assistant’s experience at other powerhouse programs such as Arizona State, Southern California, Cal State-Fullerton and Tennessee.
“When I decided to maybe get back into (pro ball), my wife was all for it,” Mosiello said. “But it just had to be the right place. The Angels are a special organization top to bottom.
“What I believe in and what I do (instructing) is exactly the way the Angels teach. They think the way I think. It was a perfect fit.”
Mosiello is in big-league spring training with the Angels and said he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to ask about the possible makeup of his Kernels team. Cedar Rapids made the Midwest League playoffs last season, losing to eventual champion Burlington in the second round.
Mosiello has experience in the Midwest League, managing 109 games for Battle Creek in 2004. He took over early in the season after former Kernels manager Mitch Seaone was let go by the Yankees.
He also managed low-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League for two seasons before heading back to the college game.
“Ballparks are what you care about,” Mosiello said. “I know Grand Rapids is a beautiful ballpark. Dayton is such a special place, I’d love to play there 30 games a season.
“I remember Cedar Rapids being a really neat place, too, when we were playing there. I played with Ever Magallanes and coached Bobby Magallanes (former Kernels managers), and they both had nothing but good things to say about being in Cedar Rapids. I’m looking forward to getting there.”
Minor-league pitchers and catchers report for spring training March 8 and 9, Mosiello said, with position players reporting the following week. The Kernels’ 2009 season opens April 9 at home against Beloit.

Former Kernels pitcher Dinga back in military
February 19, 2009, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Milan Dinga, who pitched briefly last season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, has returned to active military duty in the Army.

Dinga works at West Point in the Center for Enhanced Performance, a psychology skills program for cadets, according to an Associated Press story that tracked athletes at Army who are trying to pursue professional athletic careers until a new military policy that went into effect over the summer.

Officers-athletes are allowed to pursue professional athletic careers after two years of active military duty upon graduation. The previous policy allowed officers-athletes to immediately pursue pro careers, while also serving as recruiters and reserves.

Dinga was a 10th-round draft pick in 2007 of the parent Los Angeles Angels, pitching one game last season for Cedar Rapids before being sidelined with an arm injury that required surgery. He is expected to resume throwing this summer.

Other pro baseball players affected are pitcher Nick Hill (Seattle Mariners), outfielder Cole White (Pittsburgh), pitcher Drew Clothier (Florida) and catcher Chris Simmons (Pittsburgh).

The most well-known athlete involved in the military’s new sports policy is football safety Caleb Campbell, a high draft pick of the Detroit Lions last year, who attended training camp until being called back to active duty. He is hoping to be allowed to join the Lions in 2010.

Here’s a story on Dinga I did last summer when he was in Cedar Rapids. A real good guy.


For Kernels and country
Military program gives ex-Army player chance at pros
By Jeff Johnson The Gazette  CEDAR RAPIDS — Milan Dinga is unlike virtually every other minor leaguer in professional baseball. It has nothing to do with his ability or his smarts on the baseball diamond. He isn’t overcoming a major injury, though he is on the disabled list with a strained right (throwing) shoulder. He’s not trying to convert from a position player to a pitcher or vice versa.

What makes Dinga unique is his background.

He’s a graduate of the United States Military Academy, one of two in pro ball right now. Former Army teammate Nick Hill is in the Seattle Mariners organization.

The two are getting a chance to make it to the major leagues under a relatively new military program called the Alternative Service Option. Dinga gets two years to pursue his baseball career while also serving as a recruiter for the Army. After those two years, he has the option to continue in professional baseball if he accepts six more years as a military reservist.

If he doesn’t take that option, he can retire from baseball and serve the remaining three years of his five-year postgraduate commitment to the Army. The Alternative Service Option also is available to Navy and Air Force grads and includes all sports, not just baseball.

“We’ll see what happens. I’ve got to get off the DL,” Dinga said. “It’s a blessing that they’re letting me pursue this career while still serving, doing my part with the Army … It’s been amazing so far, and I’m grateful that the Army has allowed me to pursue this (baseball).”

Dinga, 23, set 30 school and Patriot League records in his four-year career at Army. An outstanding two-way player who was his team’s closer and left fielder, he was selected by the parent Los Angeles Angels in the 10th round of last year’s amateur draft.

The Angels see him as a pitcher, and that’s strictly what he’s been since signing a contract with them. He threw in four games last season for Rookie-level Orem and has one inning in for the Kernels since joining the club recently from extended spring training.

“He’s got really good life on his fastball,” Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said shortly after last year’s draft. “He throws hard enough. And the leadership values of a kid like that are through the roof. He’s only (23) years old, but you expect that after having been through (a) military academy. You don’t usually see that kind of discipline.”

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him,” Kernels Manager Keith Johnson said. “Before he got hurt, he was throwing the ball very well in spring training. He’s a strike thrower who works the bottom of the zone.”

A Florida native, Dinga never really thought about pro ball when he first decided to attend West Point. He was interested in the school’s great education and the chance to serve his country. His mother had served in the Air Force.

But when he was a sophomore, the Alternative Service Option was created. The first Army player to take advantage was outfielder Josh Holden, who signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2005 and played the 2006 season for the Dayton Dragons in the Midwest League. Holden was released by the Reds in spring training.

“I think the impetus behind this program is that we are having trouble recruiting,” Dinga said. “So having a professional athlete serve as a recruiter will hopefully help increase recruiting. It should be a positive thing for the Army in the long run.

“West Point was the best possible opportunity for me coming out of high school. I knew that I’d get a great education and I’d get the chance to serve my country. Get a chance to be a leader and lead soldiers. I knew that I’d get a chance to play baseball, too. Then my sophomore year, they created this program where you could go play pro. Everything has worked out. It’s been pretty amazing.”

Now if only he can get healthy.

The plan is for him to rest his arm for a couple of weeks and then see where he is physically.

It’s a tough deal for Dinga, though not anything like what many of his West Point classmates are going through overseas. And the truth is he, too, could be called for active duty anywhere at any time.

“We’re strained pretty far right now (militarily),” Dinga said. “The Army is my boss. Basically, if they tell me I’m done playing baseball and going wherever, I’m there in a heartbeat.

“You’re always thinking about that. Some of my good friends, my best friends, from school are either overseas or are going overseas. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that. I get a lot of e-mails from them, calls from them, and they’re behind me 100 percent. That really encourages me every time I step on the field to give 100 percent. It encourages me to go 100 percent for them every second I’m on the baseball field.”

K.J. won’t be coming back to the Kernels
January 24, 2009, 3:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

The parent Anaheim Angels announced Friday that Keith Johnson won’t be returning to manage the Cedar Rapids Kernels this season after all. He has been re-assigned to skipper the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the high-Class A California League. That’s a nice promotion for a good guy. I’m sure, being a resident of Utah who very much missed his family last season, this is welcomed news for K.J., who is taking over at Rancho for former Kernels hitting coach Eric Owens, who has been re-assigned to a roving instructor in the Angels system.

All this upheavel comes about because longtime field coordinator Bruce Hines recently left the Angels to become third-base coach for the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels say they are going to take their time in picking a Cedar Rapids replacement for Johnson. It’ll be interesting if they choose someone already in the organization as a coach. Could Damon Mashore, last season’s hitting coach, be the new manager? Mashore has managing experience in the Rookie leagues for the Diamondbacks.