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Twins support Kernels at Hot Stove Banquet

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Twins' annual Winter Caravan featured a special event Monday night, as the Twins traveled more than 250 miles for Class A Cedar Rapids' annual Hot Stove Banquet.

The Twins added Cedar Rapids as their Class A affiliate before last season, moving from Beloit, Wis., which brought the club's Class A affiliate closer to the Twin Cities. The Kernels, under manager Jake Mauer, had a strong year in 2013, going 88-50 en route to a Midwest League playoff berth behind the play of top prospects such as Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Adam Walker, Travis Harrison and Jose Berrios.

The banquet, which was held at the Doubletree by Hilton and featured more than 500 fans in attendance, featured a question-and-answer session hosted by broadcaster Dick Bremer along with Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and Twins relievers Brian Duensing and Ryan Pressly.

"This is exciting to have the affiliate here," Duensing said. "Hopefully, now we can get some of the young fans here to become fans of the Twins organization and come up to the city. We're not too far. So I think it's good for the fan base."

The event also featured a silent auction and an autograph session from the players as well as the induction of Mike Trout, Chris Sabo, Tom Barbee, Verna Nance and Ron Gonder to the Kernels' Hall of Fame.

It marked the second straight year the Twins made the event part of their annual Caravan, as it's expected to be a regular event on Caravan moving forward.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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