Killebrew Award Winner: Nelson Molina (Cedar Rapids)
Image courtesy of Seth StohsNelson Molina began the 2016 season in extended spring training. However, before the end of April, he was playing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He had a very nice season and was arguably one of the most improved prospects in the Twins system.
For more information on Nelson Molina, Get To Know Him in this article from May.
In 94 games for the Kernels, he hit .300/.374/.381 (.755) with 15 doubles, three triples and two home runs. He primarily played third base. Due to injuries, he played his natural position, shortstop, during the Kernels playoff run. At season’s end, Twins Daily named him as a Twins Minor League All-Star.
Of his 2016 season, Molina said, “ I feel great. I feel really happy about it. I worked really hard in the past offseason to prepare myself physically and mentally to have a great season and accomplish all the goals. Also the opportunity of helping my team to make the playoffs and have a great season as a group, it's an amazing feeling. We became a family during the year.”
He was equally impressive off the field with the Kernels, and for it he was recognized as the Kernels recipient of the Killebrew Award for Community Service.
Ryne George is the Kernels’ Community Relations Manager. He said, “Player appearances were evenly spread out this year for the Cedar Rapids Kernels players so at first it was a little tough to choose the Harmon Killebrew Award winner out of a great group of guys. Looking back through the over 40 player appearances we did this year, Nelson Molina kept standing out to me.”
On a board in the Kernels clubhouse, there is a sign-up sheet where players are able to volunteer to go to schools and read with kids. Every time I have been there, the list has been filled.
George continued, “In his first two days of being in Cedar Rapids Nelson volunteered to go along with me to visit two schools for our Summer Reading Program. English is not his first language so to volunteer to stand in front of 400 kids, talk to the kids about the importance of reading and then to read a goofy book showed me that Nelson loved giving back to the community.”
Molina really relishes the opportunities to work in the communities, especially with kids. He said, “To win the Harmon Killebrew Award for community service means a lot to me because I always love to help the people one way or the other. It is something that I’ve liked to do since I was a child. Now I have the opportunity to do community service with the Twins organization. I really enjoy it a lot, so to be recognized for doing that is really special for me.”
Molina was quite active. “In Cedar Rapids this year, I did different types of outings like visiting different schools and read books to the kids, visit summer camps, and play different sports with the kids. We do baseball clinics at the stadium with a lot of kids, teaching them the primary things about baseball. I also went to talk to a softball team about the game, discipline and the importance of chemistry in a team.”
That was an event that stood out to George too. “My favorite appearance Nelson did was his visit to a girls softball team with ages ranging from 8 to 14 years old. He is very active in youth baseball back in his home country of Puerto Rico and even sponsors a club! I knew he would be a great influence on the girls, and he did not disappoint. Nelson met with the team and talked to them about leadership, teamwork, the importance of practice and how that translates into the real world outside of sports. After the appearance, I heard nothing but great things from the parents and coaches from the softball club. The girls really took what Nelson talked about to heart and it really brought that team together.”
While Molina was drafted by the Twins two years after Harmon Killebrew passed away, he knows how important Killebrew is in the Twins history.
Molina hopes to build off of a solid 2016 season. “In this offseason, I’ve got a really good plan to get myself bigger and stronger and gain speed. I also am going to play winter ball to get more experience as a ball player."
George concluded with the following, “It was a pleasure to work with Nelson this year and I wish him the best of luck in his career. He has a bright future on and off the field!”
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