UPDATE: Minnesota Twins take over as Kernels affiliate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Minnesota Twins take over as Kernels affiliate

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The Cedar Rapids Kernels announced a new Major League Baseball affiliation on Wednesday.

The Minnesota Twins will take over as the Major League affiliation for the Cedar Rapids Kernels for the next four years.

The Midwest League franchise, which was awarded to Cedar Rapids in 1962, has been affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 1993.

The franchise was called the Red Raiders from 1962-1964 and then was named after its major league affiliate until 1993.  They were the Cardinals from 1965–1972, the Astros from 1973–1974, the Giants from 1975–1979 and the Reds from 1980–1992.

The Twins are moving their affiliation from Beloit, Wis. to Cedar Rapids.

In front of a packed conference room inside Veterans Memorial Stadium Wednesday, many were excited to welcome in a big league affiliate a little closer to home

"It's all about the players and this was a great fit for us," said Jim Rantz, Twins Senior Director of Minor Leagues.

Attendance had dipped in the Kernels' final contract year with the Angels organization.

With the new agreement and Minneapolis just a four hour drive up the interstate, the hope is minor league baseball in Cedar Rapids will have new life.

"That's really what drove it was the opportunity to get with a Midwest-based affiliate and get that energy that you're seeing throughout today, going throughout the season," said Kernels president Gary Keoppel.

Diehard Twins fan Jack Kopel was among the Twins faithful turning out to Wednesday's news conference.

Kopel, who only attends a couple of kernels games a year, is now considering buying season tickets.

"It's just fun to come out and watch these young kids play baseball and see what they can do to get to the next level," he said.

The Twins depends heavily on player development through their farm system, giving fans from cedar rapids to Minneapolis a chance to see the organizations young prospects up close and personal

"if we're doing our job in the scouting side of things, you're going to see a lot of good players come through this league.  We have very few players that ever skip the Midwest League," said Bill Smith, Twins Assistant to the President and GM. 

Next year the nickname and the uniform may be the same, but the product on the field is one fans may be able to better relate to.


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