While the St Louis Cardinals have been in the ‘dark days’ period, the same cannot be said for the Peoria Chiefs. The Chiefs are coming off an appearance in the Midwest League Championship series where they fell to Bowling Green. Peoria has made the playoffs four straight years.
Here’s some players that made an impact on last year’s team and could do so again this season:
Gorman will, by far, be the most popular name on the Chiefs this season. It’s very unlikely you don’t know who Nolan Gorman is at this point. The Cardinals’ 2018 first round draft pick, the first player born in 2000 to be drafted, the kid who can hit the stitches off the baseball. That guy.
Gorman was called up to Peoria in early August last season. His overall numbers weren’t great in a small sample size batting just .202, but six of his 19 hits were home runs. Cardinals fans also got a look at him this spring. You can find more on Gorman here.
The 24-year-old spent all of 2018 in Peoria where he slashed .311/.357/.458. Gonzalez also hit 11 home runs after hitting three in his first two seasons combined. Juan Yepez gained the edge after a blistering hot start in 2018 to earn the call-up to Palm Beach. Assuming Yepez remains in Palm Beach, Gonzalez should start the season as Peoria’s first baseman.
Figuera may not start the season in Peoria but he should find his way there. He played 20 games in Peoria last season and batted .304 before being sent down to State College in June for the remainder of the season. The third baseman is only 21 and has been in the Cardinals system since 2015 when he started in the DSL.
Starting pitcher Angel Rondon is another 21-year-old that came up through the DSL. Rondon proved very good as a starter for Peoria after being called up in July last season, going 3-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 10 starts.
A 25th round pick in 2017, Dayton appeared in just two games for State College before being called up to Peoria last season. He became Peoria’s most reliable arm out of the bullpen with a 0.78 ERA in 20 appearances. Dayton had 51 strikeouts in 34 2⁄3 innings.
Balestrieri didn’t have a good 2018 campaign by any means, but you may recall him tossing a no-hitter for the Chiefs. After being demoted from Palm Beach on May 14, Balestrieri went on to post a 7-5 record with a 4.99 ERA in Peoria.
Peoria’s 2019 campaign begins April 4 with a short two-game series at Cedar Rapids.