photo: Dozer Park (St. Louis Cardinals)
Finishing 30 games under .500 (45-75) during 2021, the Peoria Chiefs made a managerial change and brought in many new players. The 2022 Chiefs improved in both the win column and in player development.
New manager Patrick Anderson led the 2022 Chiefs to a 56-76 record during an expanded High-A season that added 12 more games to the schedule for a total of 132.
The Chiefs certainly had their fair share of highs, lows, injuries, demotions, and promotions, but the product on the field, despite the rotation of players in and out of Peoria, was always worth watching.
High-A Midwest League West Division 2022 Standings
(Division winners in bold)
|Midwest League West Division Standings|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Overall||Games Behind|
The Chiefs finished in fifth place in both halves, 15 games out and 11 1/2 games back, respectively. Peoria had a minus 36 run differential in the first half and minus 46 in the second.
During April, the Chiefs got off to a fast start with a record of 11-9 that included a five-game win streak. Shortstop Masyn Winn led the way, batting 22-for-57 and swiping eight bags. Starters Michael McGreevy and Gordan Graceffo produced similar lines. McGreevy threw 23 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and striking out 25, while Graceffo pitched 21 2/3 innings, allowing a pair of runs but striking out 30. Graceffo was awarded TCN’s systemwide Pitcher of the Month honors for April.
May became a month to forget. The Chiefs went 7-19, averaging just 2.96 runs per game, and allowing 4.81. After a plus-six run differential in April, May brought a minus-43 run differential. The team lost nine straight, starting with a six-game sweep in South Bend.
Top 10 prospects Winn, Graceffo and McGreevy all took the next step up to Double-A during May, as did Ryan Loutos. Zane Mills, Todd Lott and Gianluca Dalatri highlighted the seven newcomers to Peoria during the second month of the season.
June was a better month for the Peoria offense. While the Chiefs were 10-16 in June, they scored 131 runs, averaging just over five runs per game. Peoria started the month 7-3, allowing three or less runs in seven of those games. However, the Chiefs ended the month losing eight straight.
Catcher Aaron Antonini and RHP Michael YaSenka were both promoted to Double-A, while Peoria ushered in RHP’s Chirs Roycroft and Edgar Manzo, with catcher Wade Stauss and infielder Osvaldo Tovalin promoted from Palm Beach as well.
The month of July brought the offense back a few steps, but the pitching stepped up, leading the Chiefs to a 13-11 record. The period included five consecutive losses, and an 8-4 record to end the month. L.J. Jones led the Chiefs at the plate, batting 24-for-85, scoring 14 times, and a team-high 12 extra-base hits. Dionys Rodriguez and Wilfredo Pereira shined from the mound, ending the month with ERAs of 3.18 and 3.41, respectively.
In August, the Chiefs experienced more of the same. They finished with a 10-17 record, but only a minus-one run differential. During a stretch in which the Chiefs lost six straight, four of those losses were by two runs or less. Nick Trogrlic-Iverson marveled by throwing 20 2/3 scoreless innings during August.
September sent the Chiefs home for the winter, after they went 5-5. Jack Ralston returned to Peoria, and gave up one hit while striking out seven. Tyler Reichenborn ended his season batting 11-for-23 and scoring seven times in eight games.
There’s no surprise that with the Chiefs 56-76 record, the offensive results were subpar. In the 12-team league, Peoria finished 10th in OPS (.690) and SLG (.363) but were middle of the pack in the other slash stats – seventh in OBP (.327) and sixth in batting average (.237).
The Chiefs led the MWL on the base paths, stealing 180 bases and getting caught 40 times (.818 average). The Chiefs lacked power, hitting just 96 homers (10th), 26 triples (11th) but 204 doubles (4th). With the lack of home-run potential, the Chiefs often utilized small ball to move runners over and in. Peoria led the league with sac bunts (34) and finished third in sac flies (41).
Finishing in the lower half of the MWL, the pitching staff suffered from a handful of promotions, but didn’t keep opponents at bay, The Chiefs were ninth in the MWL in ERA (4.55). They also struggled with keeping the ball in the park (fifth most homers allowed, 126).
On the flip side, the Chiefs did limit their free passes when compared to their MWL opponents. Peoria ranked 9th in walks (479) and also struck out 1,236 batters (7th). Opponents hit .244 against the Chiefs (4th highest) but Peoria managed a 1.35 WHIP (7th) due to keeping free passes under control.
The 2022 Chiefs turned 241 double plays (ninth) and committed 107 errors (tied for seventh). Their fielding percentage of .977 was fifth best in the league.
The catchers were charged with 17 passed balls (tied for fourth most) and allowed 108 stolen bases in 132 attempts for a poor caught stealing rate of 18%, tied for third-worst in the MWL.
Mike Antico – Nearly splitting at-bats between Peoria and Springfield, Mike Antico was the ringleader of Peoria’s offense after Masyn Winn departed. Batting 70-for-274 (.255) during his 71 games in Peoria, Antico used his combination of power and speed to get on base often, and put himself into scoring position. His 19 doubles made up most of his 27 base hits and was 37-for-40 in stolen base attempts with the Chiefs.
L.J. Jones – Spending his entire second professional year with Peoria, L.J. Jones was one of the mainstays in the Peoria lineup, utilizing his knack for RBI and showcasing his power. Batting 103-for-394 (.261), Jones totaled 47 extra-base hits and plated 64 runs. He scored 48 times and his OPS was the highest among Chiefs at .777.
Jacob Buchberger – For the majority of the 2022 season, Jacob Buchberger stayed put in Peoria, battling injuries, but often jump-starting the Peoria offense. Despite his two trips to the injured list, Buchberger went 90-for-350 (.257). His 41:82 walk-to-strikeout ratio wasn’t flashy, but Buchberger played a tight infield, and when he got on, he found ways to score – doing so 45 times.
Todd Lott – Batting 87-for-334 (.260), Todd Lott became the new leadoff man after Antico departed for Double-A Springfield and used it to his advantage. In Peoria for 80 games, Lott did struggle with strikeouts (second most on the team with 106), but found ways to help his team when they needed it, playing an exceptional right field, and poking the ball into gaps.
Nick Trogrlic-Iverson – On May 26th, Nick Trogrlic-Iverson held an ERA over 9.00. Over the rest of the season, the Canadian shifted to become one of Peoria’s top relievers. At the end of the year, Trogrlic-Iverson held a 3.33 ERA, thanks to his 20 2/3 scoreless inning stretch in August. For his second year in the Cardinals’ system, he isn’t being looked at as a top prospect, but I like what the right-hander showed in 2022.
Zane Mills – While starters shifted to and from Peoria consistently all year, Zane Mills was able to find a rhythm with the Chiefs. Mills’ 4.03 ERA isn’t top of the line, but his month of August showed the type of pitcher he can be. The righty compiled a 1.91 ERA in five August starts, proving that with enough time at one level, Mills can adjust his game effectively.
Gianluca Dalatri – In a three-level year. starting with Palm Beach and ending in Springfield, Dalatri showcased his talent on the mound in Peoria. Pitching 27 1/3 innings for the Chiefs, Dalatri registered a 2.30 ERA, striking out 37.
Andre Granillo – Andre Granillo joined Dalatri in climbing up from Palm Beach through Springfield, with 34 2/3 innings in Peoria in between. Granillo compiled a 3.63 ERA with the Chiefs, striking out 51 batters.
The Chiefs’ 20th year of affiliation with the St. Louis Cardinals was a difficult one overall. Peoria was unable to log a winning record in either half and the highest they reached over .500 was three games, at 12-9 during the first month of the season.
The players brought in to replace the loss of multiple top prospects who were promoted upward took time to adapt to High-A and did not completely fill the gaps.
Even so, the Chiefs fought, often keeping games close but ended on the losing side more times than not. A lack of power, and untimely walks were the main contributions to the 56-76 finish.
The Cardinal Nation will continue with season recaps at each level of the St. Louis system. Be on the lookout for starter, reliever and player awards for each club, including the Chiefs, in the coming weeks.
Check out The Cardinal Nation’s annual article series highlighting team results and top hitters and pitchers across the entire St. Louis Cardinals system. The Springfield Cardinals Team Review is next up.
Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation
On Closeout – 2022 Cardinals Prospect Guide
The Cardinal Nation 2022 Prospect Guide is back for its fifth year. It includes 276 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos. Order your PDF or printed book copy today, with the former at a 50% discount for annual subscribers and the latter 20% off.
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
Follow Matt Lucas on Twitter @Matt_Lucas3.
© 2022 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.