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April 13th Redbird Review
Here at SWMO Sports, we are passionate about giving you the best high school sports coverage possible. However, one of my favorite past times is Cardinals baseball. During the summer, I work in the production office for the Springfield Cardinals so I get a in depth look for the future of the 11 time World Series Champions St. Louis Cardinals. As baseball season can be quite the grind and its hard enough to keep up with the big league club, I want to provide an outlet for you to get information on the future of the Cardinals with an inside look at the Springbirds along with the Cardinals. I hope to put out a review twice a month or so and I hope you enjoy!
St. Louis Cardinals Impress offensively
The scouting report for the cardinals since 2011 has been great pitching and great defense. In that time span, the Cardinals have had pleasant surprises who are playing well elsewhere with the likes of Randy Arozarena (TB), Luke Voit (NYY), Matt Adams (ATL), Tommy Pham (TB/SD), Randall Grichuk (TOR), and Kolten Wong (MIL) among many others. Not so ironically, all of those names were home grown talents who spent a chunk of their career in Springfield.
This year, the lineup of STL is among the best in baseball in my opinion. You have your familiar names with Yadi and Tyler O’Neill. You have a plethora of former Springfield Cardinals that have become mainstays in the big league line up such as Harrison Bader, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, and Andrew Knizner. Then our recent splash free agent signings of Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and returning after 10 years with the Angels and the Dodgers, Albert Pujols, we have built a lineup that is loaded with guys who hit the ball hard. That is what they have done up to this point.
Nolan Arenado has catapulted into opening weekend MVP talks after a huge opening four games. He leads the MLB in home runs with 3 and sits third in the league with 9 RBIs while batting .438. Hes not the only one that is impressing as Tommy Edman collected 3 hits last night against the Royals to improve his average to .385. Dylan Carlson has made a name for himself quickly as the former top prospect in the organization finds himself north of .350 as well. The big story has been the return of the Machine Albert Pujols who after an 0-5 outing opening day with 5 hard hit balls, he finally found some grass as his first hit in Cardinal red was a home run to left field in the first inning against the Royals last night. He would single twice as well has now he sits at 3-9 for the year. Yadi has been the one guy that has really struggled early on hitting just 1-12 thus far. Goldschmidt and O’Neill both find themselves hitting .231 but TON has hit the ball as hard as anyone totaling 6 RBIs so far and Goldy has been an on base machine totaling 5 walks and 5 runs.
The lineup has been great to start for the Cardinals and has led to the 3-1 start. However, not to take anything away from the Pirates and the Royals the first real test for this squad comes this weekend with a four game set with division favorite Milwaukee starting Thursday.
Starting Pitching Needs Work but the Bullpen Looks Elite
Remember when I said the strengths of the last few Cardinals teams was great pitching and defense? So far, starting pitching has been the crux of this team. However, in the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t been as bad as it felt. Adam Wainwright threw six scoreless in the opener striking out six. Miles Mikolas gave up 2 Earned Runs in less than four innings which isn’t ideal to an inferior opponent like the Pirates but had times where he looked good. The one disastrous start came in the lone loss of the season where Steven Matz gave up 7 runs in his 3rd inning of work. However, he did look dominate for two innings striking out 5. I think he is getting more gruff than what is deserved but that will be something to monitor in his next appearance. Finally, Dakota Hudson made his 2022 debut coming off of an injury that kept him out for most of 2021. Him and former closer turned starter (sounds like someone else I have heard about named Waino) Jordan Hicks were co-starters last night against the Royals and both looked good for the most part. Hudson gave up two bombs in 4 IP but did a great job of keeping the ball on the ground for the most part which is crucial for a sinkerball like him. Hicks was lights out dominating the Royals batters.
The high leverage arms out of the bullpen looked dominate in their limited action thus far. Giovanny Gallegos has had two near perfect outings without allowing a hit and only one walk while picking up the save last night. Ryan Helsley was throwing gas out of the pen like you want to see. TJ McFarland got himself into a little trouble but was able to work out of it in his lone inning so far. Genesis Cabrera allowed a run in his two innings but his stuff looks elite once again. Despite allowing a few meaningless situations in blowouts, the pen has looked to be a strength once again.
Young Bucks Look to Build the Rest of the Month
Sure, aside from three of the oldest 10 players in baseball (Pujols, Waino, and Yadi) the Cardinals are still pretty young. 14 members of the active roster is 27 years old or younger and the majority of them are producing. Most of them we have already talked about but Dylan Carlson has put together some very good at bats. The rest of the outfield of Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader have been very good in the field and while Bader hasn’t hit quite where you want yet he is having good Abs. Lars Nootbaar was one of the major stories last year and should continue to produce this year.
Edman is one of the best hitting second basemen in the league from the right side. However, as a switch hitter he may want to try just hitting from the right side.
Andrew Knizner has only appeared in one game this year but 1-3 with a walk and a 3 run bomb against the Royals.
The remainder of the month bodes well for the Cardinals as they officially kick off a 10 game road trip starting with Milwaukee that will see Wainwright, Mikolas, Matz and Hudson on the mound. Then they head to south beach with Hicks, Wainwright, and Mikolas. Then a three game set against the reds featuring Matz, Hudson, Hicks on the bump. They will return home April 25th with three games against the Mets and a four game set with the Diamondbacks that will bleed into May 1st. I don’t think its unreasonable to expect to go 13-4 the rest of the way splitting with the Brewers and dropping one against New York and one against division rival Cincinnati. However, with Miami, Cincinnati, and Arizona being well below average and New York being very beatable at home, the Cardinals are in great shape to go into May as with one of the best records in baseball.
The Springfield Cardinals have a solid mix of new faces and old faces. Gone is Brendan Donavan, Nolan Gorman, Luken Baker, Juan Yepez, Alec Burleson, Ivan Herrera, Andre Pallante and Justin Toerner who all spent significant time with Springfield a year ago. Most of those making up the line up for AAA Memphis and Pallante making the big league club. So, who does that leave left from last year? If you were at any games last year, unfortunately you will see a lot of the same names on the mound. The Cardinals were the worst team in the Texas League on the mound allowing an ERA of ALMOST SIX!!!! 5.97 to be exact and that was a big reason why despite all the success in the batter’s box, they finished last in the TL going 45-75. The team ERA was almost a full run worse than 9th place and they allowed 140 more hits than the 2nd worst Midland Rockhounds. The offense should be fine again this year but lets take a look at how the Springbirds have started.
Top Ranked Cardinals
The most exciting part of the Springfield Cardinals is seeing some of the top ranked players in the Cardinals organization. Last year saw 13 of the current top 30 prospects in the system come through Springfield at some point. This year is no different as right now 6 is on the roster with a pretty good chance of at least six more seeing time in AA at some point this year. Here is who to watch for at Hammons Field.
- Jordan Walker 3B (#30 MLB)
- Malcom Nunez 3B
- Delvin Pérez SS
- Julio Rodríguez C
- Connor Lunn RHP
- Freddy Pacheco RHP
The AA Cardinals will be impressive once again at the plate. The team has seen a lot of AA at bats in the last two seasons even with all of those key contributors up in AAA. Chase Pinder has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of these at bats and he has gone off so far. He has two multi-hit games in four games played including an outrageous 5-6 outing against the Naturals last Saturday with a home run and a double. He sits with a .526 average and leads the team with 10 hits and 7 RBIs. He is also second on the team with two RBIs. Moises Gomez leads the team as every hit he has had left the yard. He is 3-8 on the year with three bombs and 6 RBIs. Matt Koperniak and Julio Rodriguez each sit at .375 for the year and Koperniak left the yard once that ended up on the far end of the training facility roof. Malcom Nunez and Nick Dunn are both hitting over .300.
The two names that have been left out thus far has been one time top prospect and shortstop Delvin Perez and current top prospect Jordan Walker. Both guys have struggled thus for and Perez sits at .188 to start the year after hitting a respectable .265 a year ago. His biggest threat is his base stealing ability and if he’s not on base, he cant utilize that part of the game. Hopefully, he will right the trend soon. Walker is still adjusting to life at the AA level. Much like how Nolan Gorman struggled at the beginning of last year, Walker is as well. However, Walker has seemed to figure it out a little bit quicker than Gorman did as he did go yard for the first time Sunday. Keep an eye out for Walker as the season progresses.
Cover photo courtesy of USA Today