Kernels' Maciel flashes rare power

Twins No. 17 prospect homers from both sides of plate

Gabriel Maciel had four homers in 190 Minor League games before Saturday. (Rich Guill/Quad Cities River Bandits)

By Vincent Lara-Cinisomo / | August 11, 2018 11:47 PM

Through his first couple of weeks in the Twins organization, Gabriel Maciel hadn't shown much to support why the team sought him as part of the exchange for Eduardo Escobar. That changed Saturday.

The Twins' 17th-ranked prospect homered from both sides of the plate and singled twice to lead Class A Cedar Rapids to a 9-6 win over Quad Cities at Modern Woodmen Park.

"Yeah, I think the first few days maybe he was a little nervous," Cedar Rapids hitting coach Brian Dinkelman said of Maciel's early struggles. "It was the first time he'd ever been traded in his life and it's a little bit of an adjustment. But the last week, he's been taking better at-bats."

Video: Kernels' Maciel drills second homer

The power surge was surprising, given that the 19-year-old had four homers in three Minor League seasons coming into Saturday's game.

"He's been off the past couple days, he was hit by a pitch, so maybe he had a little more pressure today," Dinkelman said. "But really, he just put a couple of good swings on balls. I don't think there'd be any carryover. He knows his game is line drives in the gap. Maybe he'll be a little more aggressive with his swings."

The four hits fell one shy of Maciel's career high, accomplished on June 23, 2017 with Rookie-level Missoula.

Maciel was acquired from the D-backs on July 26 with outfielder Ernie De La Trinidad and right-hander Jhoan Duran, joining a Kernels lineup that includes No. 6 prospect Trevor Larnach, 12th-ranked Akil Baddoo and 27th-ranked Andrew Bechtold.

Gameday box score

He had a quick start Saturday, pulling a ball over the wall in right field off right-hander Leovanny Rodriguez (4-5) in his first at-bat in the third inning. In the fourth, the outfielder from Brazil beat out a grounder to shortstop for a single. Maciel clubbed a ball over the wall in left off left-hander Tim Hardy in the fifth for his first career multi-homer game.

He struck out in the seventh but completed his four-hit night with a bloop single to left in the ninth.

"He's a strong guy. I know he's not very tall, but he's pretty well put-together," Dinkelman said. "In a few more years, he's still learning to hit, he'll hit more homers. He'll never be a big power guy, but he'll learn to hit a few more."

Video: First MWL homer for Kernels' Larnach

Maciel had plenty of help as the Kernels totaled 18 hits. Larnach, the 20th overall pick in this year's Draft, hit his first homer in full-season ball and doubled. Bechtold singled three times and drove in a run and Trey Cabbage doubled and singled twice, while second-round pick Ryan Jeffers singled twice.

MiLB include

Dinkelman also was impressed with Larnach.

"He's only been here four games, but he's a college kid that's done well," the coach said. "I spoke to Jeff Reed, who coached him at Elizabethton. I'll step in when I need to, but we just want him to continue what he's doing."

Jordan Balazovic (6-3) cruised with all of that support, holding Quad Cities hitless for four innings before allowing two runs on two hits in his final frame.

For the River Bandits, Miguelangel Sierra doubled and drove in three runs.

Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @vincelara. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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