Reality Check For Cards Prospects: Peoria Chiefs

I have heard a lot of optimism, almost to the point of giddiness, from Cards fans in forums with respect to prospects who are now coming into prominence. While I agree that there is a lot of talent percolating up through the Cards minor league system, it may be time to pump the brakes a little on expectations and to look no further than Class A Peoria as a case in point. When the season started, I thought this team might excel based on 2016 results from short-season leagues for many members of the roster, but this team is tanking to the tune of 13-24. As of 5/17/17, there was clear evidence of "Growing Pains" in a literal sense, since many on the roster were drafted out of high school and have been agressively promoted.

Some nights the outfield could consist of Plummer, Carlson, and Denton, ages 20, 18, and 19, respectively, and, IIRC, Plummer lost approximately a year of development to injury. Denton is scuffling at .164, and Carlson was about the same range before starting to hit his last 10 games.

Many probably had high expectations for a rotation that included Oxnevad, Hicks, Farinaro, Williams, Dobzanski, and Kilichowski, even if the latter was the only pitcher with college (Vanderbilt) experience. Hicks has had success in terms of wins without being dominant, but there are only 2 wins total among the other 5 pitchers in this sextant. Only Kilichowski is above the median age of 22, as cited by Baseball America for the Midwest League, and Oxnevad and Hicks are only 20. One would hope that the struggles with adjustment that accompany aggressive promotion will not lead to a crisis of confidence and "flame out" in the lower ranks of the minors.

Having been a young man in the 1970's, my mind conjures up visions of David Clyde when I see the struggles and possible ruination of projectable pitchers who may have been promoted too rapidly. However, the "Clyde Syndrome", see is probably a misappropriated term when applied to the struggles of a pitcher laboring in the Midwest League. Indeed, David Clyde pitched for the MLB Texas Rangers just 19 days after graduating high school. By the way, Clyde's manager at the time was Whitey Herzog, who recalled in his book White Rat, that, for the sake of gate-attraction and the bottom line, the front office mandated that he leave Clyde in games beyond the point he would normally be lifted. Having not read this autobio, I can only guess how much the ensuing friction between parties may have contributed to the firing of Herzog and replacement with Billy Martin. Apologies for this tangential discussion, but for anyone not familiar with David Clyde, his Wiki page is a must read. Here is hoping the Peoria club develops a bunker mentality, meets the challenge of maturing, and gets back to competitiveness without a lot of roster tinkering.