2018 Killebrew Award Winner - David Banuelos (Cedar Rapids Kernels)
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of David Banuelos)David Banuelos was the fifth round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in June of 2017. This past offseason, he found himself in the middle of the Ohtani sweepstakes. The Minnesota Twins traded $1 million in international pool money to the Mariners and the Twins received the talented backstop.
Banuelos came to spring training and spent the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids with the Kernels. He caught 68 games, and when the Kernels got to the playoffs, he was behind the plate. Touted for his work defensively, he proved the part.
He also did tremendous work in the community.
Ryne George is the Kernels Director of Community Relations and Entertainment. He is the person who organizes the community opportunities and with the players. Regarding Banuelos, George was very complimentary.
“When David first arrived in Cedar Rapids back in April, he was pretty shy and kept to himself. A week or two into the season our first player appearance was inching closer and to my surprise David was the first one to sign up! From that moment on David ramped up his community appearances and by the end of the long season he did 16 of the 35 total player appearances for the Kernels. My goal is to get our players out in the community as much as possible while respecting their time and focus on baseball activities.”
George continued, “With David being a catcher, I know games take a little more of a toll on his body so it’s extra special that he woke up early the day after a game and took the time to give back during his time here in Cedar Rapids. David made multiple visits to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, helped promote adoptable animals on the local news and was a vital piece in helping out with the Kernels “Catch with a Cop” youth program.”
For his part, Banuelos enjoyed his experiences and opportunities to help others or make their days better.
“Some of the things we did in Cedar Rapids included the Meals-on-Wheels program, catch with the cops, children’s hospital, and taking dogs from the shelter to the local news station to advertise adoption. Going around the community and giving back was an awesome experience. Helping make other people’s days is what it’s all about.”
To win an award given in the name of Harmon Killebrew has special meaning to Banuelos.
“It is an honor to win an award named after Harmon Killebrew. Knowing how much he gave back to the community, I thought, I can try and do the same and help make others days a little better.”
However, for Banuelos has an additional level of special meaning because of a tie to Killebrew. “In high school, my really good friend Grant Hockin, a grandson of Harmon, would always tell me stories of his grandfather and all the things he would do.”
The two went to high school at Damien High School in La Verne, California. The same school as several former big leaguers, including Mark McGwire. Hockin was Cleveland’s second-round pick in 2014 and pitched for the Low-A Lake County. In June, he underwent the second Tommy John surgery of his career. He had previously missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Twins 12th round pick in 2018, Jon Olsen from UCLA, also went to Damien High School.
Previous Twins Low-A Killebrew Award winners:
2011 - Ryan O’Rourke
2012 - Corey Williams
2013 - Niko Goodrum
2014 - Tanner Vavra
2015 - Jared Wilson
2016 - Nelson Molina
2017 - Hector Lujan
2018 - David Banuelos
Other 2018 Killebrew Award Recipients
Rochester Red Wings - Jake Reed
Chattanooga Lookouts - Chris Paul
Fort Myers Miracle -
Cedar Rapids Kernels - David Banuelos
Congratulations to David Banuelos on earning the 2018 Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
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