Compiled by Staff
It’s always good to check out the Cardinals’ minor league clubs and this week we spotlight the Peoria Chiefs. In late July STLSportsPage.com went to Dozer Park to work on a few features and watch the young talent. In the next week or so we will be posting those features. This is just a quick run-down on the Peoria Chiefs. Stay tuned for Rob Rains features. (Follow him on Twitter at @RobRains and @STLSportsPage and Facebook: STLSportsPage by Rob Rains)
Peoria, the new High A affiliate began the season with prospects Jhon Torres, an outfielder, third baseman Malcom Nunez and two of the team’s draft picks from last summer, pitcher Ian Bedell (who got hurt and had TommyJohn surgery) and outfielder Alec Burleson. Making the jump from short-season Johnson City in 2019 to high A is infielder Chandler Redmond.
Organization Name: Peoria Chiefs
Story Behind the Logo:
The Peoria Chiefs logo which was developed during the time of Pete Vonachen’s ownership in 1984, and used for about 10 years was originally a Native American warrior chief wearing a head dress, however they have transitioned the theme to a fire house theme by removing the “chief” feathers and adding a red firefighter’s helmet.
Chiefs minority owner and former longtime team president Rocky Vonachen (the son of the original owner) told the Peoria Journal Star, “We re-branded years ago, adding that their logo has nothing in it that points to Native Americans anymore. He said, “Our chief is a fire chief. Our mascot, Homer, is a firehouse dog.”
Manager: Chris Swauger
Chris Swauger, 34, (shown left with Rob Rains)is in his second stint with the Chiefs, having served as manager for two seasons (2017-18), leading the team to two playoff berths, including a trip to the Midwest League Championship Finals in 2018. Swauger has also managed at the Johnson City Cardinals (TN).
Prior to coaching, Swauger played seven seasons in the Cardinals organization, after being drafted in the 26th round of the 2008 draft out of The Citadel
Where they Play:
Dozer Park, 730 SW Jefferson Ave, Peoria, IL 61605
Peoria, Illinois is a little more than a three hour drive from St. Louis to get there. Fans wanting to see the stars of the future should definitely plan a road trip to the Chiefs.
As with all ballparks across the country the attendance has gone down so they are having even more specials than usual. Check with the team ahead of time so plan your trip.
Directions to Peoria: Take I-55 to 155 North of Springfield to 74. It’s an easy drive.
Who is their Mascot:
Homer (the dalmation)
Homer roams the park and participates in promotions. At the beginning of the game when Homer shows up, fans– kids and adults as well– flock to him for photos.
Who to Keep and Eye on:
Masyn Winn, Jordan Walker and Jhon Torres are the most talked-about players on the team.
Catcher Pedro Pages (Spanish pronunciation- “Pah-hays”) was also cited by a scout in attendance. In an earlier article, we included Pages along with Zade Richardson as some players to watch in 2021. Richardson has been seeing action as a designated hitter.
Link to Peoria Chief’s website for the roster: CLICK HERE
Breaking them down:
The two biggest stars at this point are last year’s top draft picks, Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn who started the season at Palm Beach have been promoted to Peoria. Winn hit a home run and a triple in the first game while we were there and is shown in the photo, left crossing the plate.
Walker and Winn were the subject of an article on STLSportsPage.com earlier this year:
Cardinals top picks in last year’s draft, Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, finally on eve of making their pro debuts: CLICK HERE.
Winn was hoping his friend Tink Hence would be moving up soon—at least to the Palm Beach Cardinals but an injury to his shoulder has prevented that. Hence is on the Florida Complex team (which replaced the GCL) and only has six innings in six games pitched. The two have a special friendship and STLSportsPage.com wrote about them earlier this year. Being drafted by the Cardinals gives Masyn Winn and Tink Hence a chance to continue their friendship – and their competitive fire to outdo each other: CLICK HERE.
Infielder to watch (other than Winn and Walker):
Moises Castillo, Todd Lott (who hit a home run while we were there), Chandler Redmond (who leads the team in homers).
Outfielders: Leandro Cedeno, Matt Chamberlain, Jhon Torres
Pitchers on Peoria: Fabian Blanco, Logan Gragg, Mac Lardner, Connor Lunn, Freddy Pacheco, Wilfredo Pereira, Jack Ralston, Paul Schwendel
Coming Soon from Rob Rains
1. Profile article on third baseman Jordan Walker
As mentioned Walker was the number one draft pick last year. Since the 2020 minor league season was cancelled this is his first pro season. At 19 he is one of the youngest players in the league.
The story will be about his quick start to his career and how he handles of the high expectations placed on him.
2. Profile article on pitcher Paul Schwendel
Paul Schwendel is another interesting player on the roster that we got a chance to catch up with. At 31 years old he is older than most of the players at that level– but there is a reason for that.
A former draft pick of the Texas Rangers, he was out of baseball from 2015 to 2020 working in Atlanta and pitching in a mens league on the weekends before getting a second chance to revive his career.
3. Annual Re-Ranking of Cardinals Prospects in the Entire Cardinals System
Every year after the draft and the trade deadline we take a new look at the Cardinals prospects, those who have come off the list for one reason or another and all the new players who have been added. There will be several changes on this year’s list.