For Cardinals’ Chandler Redmond, tied for the most home runs in the minors, success begins with peace of mind

By Rob Rains

Chandler Redmond knows there are tangible reasons that help explain his success in the first half of this season for the Double A Springfield Cardinals, allowing him to arrive at the All-Star break tied for the most home runs in the minor leagues.

He changed his diet over the winter. He developed a better weight-lifting program with a coach. He received some hitting tips while working in the batting cage with Christian Walker of the Diamondbacks. He added long distance running to his workout routine. He has more experience to rely on each time he steps into the batter’s box.

All of that is well and good, and important, but it’s likely not the biggest reason for Redmond’s 23 home runs, two more than he hit all of last season.

Redmond believes the biggest reason for his success is peace of mind.

Last year, he spent nearly every day worrying about his wife, Kristan, who was at their home in South Carolina, pregnant with their first child. When he wasn’t thinking about her or their unborn baby, Redmond was worried about money. As a minor-leaguer and a low draft pick, he didn’t make much money and knew he would soon have a baby he also would need to support.

Now, his son Walker is about to celebrate his first birthday and, thanks to the new pay structure in the minor leagues, the financial stress that Redmond was under has lessened too.

“You just get to focus on baseball,” Redmond said. “It’s nice. The biggest thing is now that our son is born I’m not worried about Kristan anymore. When she was pregnant and not able to do everything by herself and nobody was home with her, that’s when I was worrying a ton and that was extra pressure.

“I’m not worried about her taking care of my son. She’s such a great mother and wife. That stress is completely gone, which is nice.”

Redmond met Kristan when he was playing for a summer ball team while in college.

“One of my best friends was the athletic trainer for the team,” Kristan said. “We do a supper club and it was her turn to host but they had a game, so we all ended up going to the game.

“Chandler just started waiving at me between innings and I thought he was so weird. He tracked me down after the game and started talking to me and that was it.”

The couple married in 2021, two years after Redmond began his pro career at Johnson City, selected in the 32nd round of the 2019 draft by the Cardinals – a round that doesn’t exist anymore – following his senior season at Gardner-Webb University.

Back then, he was just thankful for the opportunity. His stress back then was just wondering if that would happen.

“I was working at Furman University on an internship as their strength and conditioning coach so that whole week I was getting up at 3:30 in the morning to be at the weight room at 4:30,” Redmond said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be drafted, but I was hitting and preparing and hoping for the best.

“The third day (of the draft) came around and we had it on the laptop listening after I got home. Everybody was stone cold quiet. After the 29th round there was a break and the area scout for the Cardinals, T.C. Calhoun, called and said they were going to take a pitcher in the next round and then said, ‘You are going to be our pick in the 32nd round. Welcome to the Cardinals.’

“It was just pure relief and joy. My dad doesn’t trust anything so we didn’t celebrate until they announced it. Once we heard my name we all went crazy. We had steaks and crab cakes for dinner. It was awesome.”

The advice that Redmond wants the 10 players the Cardinals drafted on day 3 on Tuesday to know is that they now have a chance to live out their dream, just like he is doing.

“It’s just getting the chance and putting in as much work as you can and praising and honoring God the whole way,” Redmond said. “He’s going to let things happen for you.”

Redmond’s faith also helped him deal with all of the stress he was under last year. Every time they talked on the phone, Kristan could tell all of that worry was affecting her hudband on the field.

“We had kind of a little rough pregnancy and I could tell he was worried about me and the baby,” she said. “We had a lot of scares and scary diagnoses at first but it’s helped a lot that Walker is here and he’s healthy so that is one less thing he has to worry about.

“If something is going on at home and Chandler knows about it, he tends to worry a good bit. I try to keep that to a minimum as much as possible.”

Kristan, who is a nurse, has been able to travel from South Carolina to Springfield for several days each month so she and Walker can spend time with Redmond – thanks to the bigger paychecks the minor leaguers are receiving. Redmond is making almost double the salary he earned last summer.

“One of the things about Chandler is that if he doesn’t see his family for a long time, he starts to go into some slumps,” Kristan said. “Being able to visit has allowed him to see Walker a lot and watch him grow in person. It’s been really nice.”

Redmond and Kristan also believe that their faith has played a key role in his success this season.

“He just seems a lot more comfortable,” Kristan said about Redmond. “We attribute that to his relationship with God. Chandler’s really centered in on family, and really big into keeping our eyes focused on God and believing that it’s His time and not our time.

“That’s really made a huge difference as well, not that he doesn’t stress about ‘Will I get moved up?’ but we just know that when God thinks he is prepared, then He will move him along.”

Redmond has the most home runs in the Texas League and also leads the league with 67 RBIs in 78 games – the third most RBIs among all minor-leaguers – while hitting .262. Now 26, the second half of this season is going to be one of the most important portions of his career. He will either have to be added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster this winter or he will become eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

“He’s on to something,” said Springfield manager Jose Leger. “He wants to get more accomplished and get an opportunity to hopefully play at the next level.”

Redmond knows that decision is out of his control, but he also is well aware of the fact that on July 21 – Walker’s first birthday – Triple A Memphis will be playing at Charlotte, an hour from his home in Columbia, S.C.

It would be a heck of a birthday present – but not one that Redmond is going to lose sleep thinking about.

“I think I’m doing a better job of not pressing this year,” Redmond said. “It also helps that I am in the lineup every day. I can just go out there and let my abilities speak for themselves. That’s been nice and comforting.”

No matter what happens the rest of the season, Redmond knows there won’t be any more nights like the one he experienced on Aug. 10 of last season. Playing at Amarillo, Redmond became only the second player in professional baseball history to hit for the home run cycle, hitting a solo homer, a two-run homer, a three-run homer and a grand slam in the same game.

“The good thing about this season is it’s about my whole season and not just one night,” Redmond said. “This is way better. When fans ask for my autograph now they want me to add ‘Home Run Cycle 8-10-22’ on it so it makes it pretty cool. I’m never going to forget that day – my niece was born that night.

“I’m very happy. I couldn’t have thought the season could go this good. It’s been awesome. I just want to keep riding the high … I just want to play as well as I can and whatever happens happens.”

Added Kristan, “He’s one of the hardest workers I know. We have a batting cage and pitching machine in our backyard and on days he can’t hit with anybody it’s me and him and Walker in the backyard. He refuses to ever miss a day of hitting. We just try to do what we can to help him.

“He has the drive to do it. He wants to be more than just the ‘home run cycle’ guy. He’s going to continue working toward that.”

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photos courtesy of Springfield Cardinals


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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out Rob Rains, Editor.