Diaz doubles Kernels to victory in opener

Twins No. 10 prospect plates four runs in Midwest playoffs

Lewin Diaz batted .292/.329/.444 with 12 homers and 68 RBIs in 122 games with Cedar Rapids in 2017. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

By Chris Tripodi / MiLB.com | September 6, 2017 10:57 PM ET

Lewin Diaz led the Midwest League in doubles this season, but he never had more than two in a game. At least not until Wednesday night.

Minnesota's No. 10 prospect ripped three two-baggers in four at-bats and plated four runs as Class A Cedar Rapids topped Kane County at Perfect Game Field, 6-5, in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs. It was Diaz's 11th three-hit game of the season.

Video: Cedar Rapids' Diaz drives third double of game

Diaz plated two with a double to right field off Mack Lemieux in the first inning to open the scoring before ripping another two-run double to center in the second to knock Lemieux from the game in his shortest start of the year. After grounding out to first in the fifth, Diaz doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth and came around to score the go-ahead run on Jimmy Kerrigan's ground-ball single to right.

"He took some good swings every at-bat," Kernels manager Tommy Watkins said. "That last one was one that stood out to me, he got down 0-2 and battled and hit it to left for a double that ended up being the winning run. The two-RBI double that he had to right-center was on a 3-0 count, so I applaud him for not being afraid to swing the bat on 3-0. A lot of young hitters are afraid to make outs on 3-0. During the year we put them in situations to not be afraid to swing on 3-0, and he came through tonight."

Gameday box score

The 20-year-old first baseman ended the season on an 11-game hitting streak, raising his average from .283 to .292 in the process, and continued his hot-hitting ways to start the postseason. It marked his second game this season with at least four RBIs, the first coming May 2 against Lake County.

"I definitely think he just treated it like another game," Watkins said. "He was on a little streak coming down the end of season, raised his average 10 to 15 points the last couple weeks. Just playing the game ... he's comfortable, laying off some pitches, fouling some pitches off. He looked really good in there."

Complete playoff coverage

The Kernels also made two fielding errors that led to two unearned runs -- consecutive miscues by shortstop Jordan Gore and third baseman Caleb Hamilton in the second -- which Watkins would like to see cleaned up during Game 2, which will be played at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday in Kane County.

"We had a couple errors on some routine balls, just [want to] finish the plays, make the routine plays, have fun and put up good at-bats," Watkins said. "Just continue to have fun and play the game hard."

MiLB include

Kerrigan had two hits and two RBIs to account for the rest of the Cedar Rapids runs.

Kane County's Ramon Hernandez had two hits, including a homer, and drove in two. Manny Jefferson added two hits and two RBIs.

In other MWL playoff action:

TinCaps 2, Hot Rods 1

Padres No. 7 prospect Michel Baez struck out nine over seven scoreless innings and A.J. Kennedy's two-run homer in the second gave Baez all the run support he needed in the opener. Box score

Whitecaps 3, Dragons 2

Danny Pinero went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead, two-run double in the ninth that pushed West Michigan past Dayton in Game 1 of their best-of-3 first-round series series. Box score

Chiefs 4, River Bandits 3

Evan Mendoza went 3-for-4 with a double and went the other way for a walk-off single in the ninth that deflected off the glove of Quad Cities second baseman Kristian Trompiz and scored Mick Fennell from third as Peoria took a 1-0 series lead. Box score

Chris Tripodi is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @christripodi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More