Two of Iowa’s minor league teams will take the field at a venue where no minor league player has ever played. Some of the best talent from each system will be gearing up for the occasion.
The first game of the minor league at the legendary Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa will take place Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. CT in front of thousands of spectators and the MLB Network crowd. The rosters of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the High-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and the Quad Cities River Bandits (Kansas City Royals) combine for eight top-30 prospects right now.
Cedar Rapids has already won a Midwest League West Division title in the first half and is heading into the postseason, while Quad Cities will look to capitalize on the home team’s magic as they led the Chicago White Sox to an exciting walk-off win over New York led the Yankees in the first game of last year, played at MLB Stadium next to Hallow’s Movie Grounds.
The Kernels and River Bandits will wear throwback identities for the historic event, with Cedar Rapids taking the field as the Bunnies, honoring that city’s team from 1904-1932, and Quad Cities becoming the Davenport Blue Sox, honoring teams who played in the area played at various times from 1913-37. The retro threads carry the following top 30 talents.
Cedar Rapids Bunnies (seeds)
1B Aaron Sabato, Gemini #12 (MLB ETA: 2023)
Sabato, the 27th overall pick of the 2020 draft, was a powerhouse in North Carolina, where he hit 18 home runs, a freshman record. In his first 100 professional games, he’s doubled that tally with 36 long balls, including 17 for the Kernels so far this season.
2B/OF Alerick Soularie, Gemini #18 (MLB ETA: 2024)
Soularie can play anywhere in the outfield, as evidenced by his 10 games at center and right and 2 at left this year, beating himself at second base where he has played 40 times. The Tennessee product, played a round after Sabato in 2020, is playing its first full season after being limited to just 34 games last year due to injuries.
RHP David Festa, Gemini #25 (MLB ETA: 2024)
After starting the year with a 1.50 ERA in five starts for Single-A Fort Myers, Festa got the jump to Cedar Rapids where he excelled. The 6-foot-6 right-hander can hit 99 mph with his fastball, has a hard slider and decent change, and has a 6-2 record in 11 games (eight starts) and a 2.75 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) set up for the kernels.
RHP Sean Mooney, Gemini #26 (MLB ETA: 2023)
The twins brought Mooney out of St. John’s in 2019 and helped him recover from Tommy John surgery that year. The right-hander made his pro debut in 2021 and has been solid for Cedar Rapids this season. He posted a 2.50 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) and hit 73 against just 26 walks in 54 innings.
3B/1B Jake Rucker, Gemini #30 (MLB ETA: 2024)
Another SEC product from Tennessee, Rucker came to the Twins in the seventh round of the 2021 draft and has put together an impressive first campaign of the season with Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids. In addition to 35 games played at third base and 30 at first, Rucker was also tested with seven at second base and nine in outfield. Combined, his racquet has played to a .265/.365/.449 slash line in 98 games for the Kernels.
Davenport Blue Sox (Quad Cities River Bandits)
RHP Beck Way, Royals #12 (MLB ETA: 2023)
Way, a fourth-round pick by the Yankees in 2020, came to the Royals via Andrew Benintendi’s trade last week. In 15 games earlier in the year with High-A Hudson Valley in the Yanks system, the right-hander went 5-5 with a 3.73 ERA. In his first two starts with the River Bandits, he hit 13 in 10 2/3 innings.
2B Peyton Wilson, Royals #14 (MLB ETA: 2024)
Wilson, who finished 66th overall in 2021, comes from an athletic family that has brought three sons through Alabama. Along with Peyton, John Parker played quarterback for the Crimson Tide and middle brother Ross, at 15, still shares the freshman home run record 60 games.
C Luca Tresh, Royals #26 (MLB ETA: 2025)
North Carolina State’s Tresh helped lead the Wolfpack to third place at the 2021 College World Series before going to the Royals in the 17th round that year. He was impressive in his Midwest League debut this season, hitting .273/.360/.470 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs in 80 games.