All posts by Derek Shore

Cover the Springfield Cardinals and Cardinals minor league pipeline for The Cardinal Nation | Freelance sports writer

Derek Shore – What is next for me

photo: Seth Elledge and Derek Shore (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

This is not a goodbye, but a see you later.

Derek Shore

After six wonderful years of learning and growing while writing at The Cardinal Nation, I’m excited to share that I’ll be joining The Joplin Globe as a sports reporter in the next few weeks. What has always stood out to me is their sports coverage — perhaps the best in the state of Missouri outside of what you see in the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

And I want to be a part of that. I couldn’t be more thrilled or grateful for the opportunity that is ahead as I start my career in the journalism industry.

But before that, I want to give my thanks to Brian Walton and all the readers at TCN for your support in my work over the years.

First to Brian for helping me find my passion as a sports journalist. He helped me grow in more ways than one. He took a chance on a kid who had no writing experience six years ago and gave me the opportunity to cover the Springfield Cardinals.

Needless to say, I jumped on that opportunity and I will forever be grateful to Brian for giving me that shot.

And now to the loyal readers of TCN. I can’t thank you enough for subscribing and reading my weekly notebooks on Springfield and reading my often too in-depth interviews as well as feature stories on Cardinals prospects year after year.

You all are the reason why I strive to do what I do.

I don’t know what is next for me at TCN, but I would love to continue to write about the Cardinals in some smaller capacity in the future — whether major-league or minor league.

For now, see you later.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Prospect Carlson Headlines Reinforcements Joining Cardinals

photo: Dylan Carlson (Frank Ramirez/The Cardinal Nation)

As the St. Louis Cardinals look to resume play this weekend in Chicago, reinforcements are on the way after the club has lost a total of 10 players and eight staff members to COVID-19. That includes four players this week.

And they will also be bringing a highly anticipated prospect along with them.

Dylan Carlson (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

Top prospect Dylan Carlson headlines a slew of players joining the Cardinals this weekend, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said Thursday in a Zoom call with the St. Louis media.

“I would imagine he’s going to play, just like I stated all along,” Mozeliak said.

Seth Elledge, John Nogowski, Ricardo Sanchez and Rob Kaminsky will also be joining St. Louis. The club is slated to resume play with a doubleheader on Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.

Sanchez will be the 29th man for the twin bill.

Mozeliak said lefty Austin Gomber will be placed on the COVID IL. He has not tested positive but was identified at risk by contact tracing.

Jose Oquendo (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

As for coaches, Mozeliak said Jose Oquendo “will likely” serve as the third-base coach. He had been running the Cardinals alternate site camp in Springfield.

Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza will also be promoted to the big-league staff, according to Mozeliak.

It has already been reported catcher Pedro Pages has been added to the Cardinals satellite camp. Middle infielder Kramer Robertson and reliever Bryan Dobzanski will join him at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO.

All three have cleared intake testing.

Mozeliak said two new coaches will be added at Springfield, but they won’t be official until they clear input testing.

Deeper dive into the Cardinals reinforcements

Three of the five reinforcements are ranked in The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 Prospects with Carlson at No. 1, Elledge at No. 34 and Nogowski at No. 46.

Carlson, 21, is the latest in the line of young, ascending outfielders the Cardinals haven’t seen since the late Oscar Taveras. He is already in the 60-man player pool but now required a 40-man roster spot.

Now that he is getting the call, he won’t be able to accrue a full year of service time, so he can’t qualify for free agency before 2027. Potential early arbitration as a Super Two is possible, though.

But with outfielders out with the coronavirus and a need for an offensive spark, there is an opportunity for regular playing time and a need for some upside.

Carlson ranks as Baseball America’s No. 10 prospect in all of baseball. The switch-hitter slashed .292/.372/.542 with 26 home runs and 68 RBI in 126 games last season between Triple-A Memphis and Double-A Springfield.

Seth Elledge (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Elledge, 24, was acquired in the Sam Tuivailala Seattle trade two summers ago. He is also being added to the 40-man.

The right-hander split the 2019 campaign between Memphis and Springfield, compiling a 4.26 ERA combined ERA in 47 games. He struck out 75 batters in 67 2/3 innings.

Elledge’s high-spin fastball sits 91-93 mph and he has shown the ability to ramp up his heater in the mid-90s. He backs that up with a hard, downer curveball in the low 80s that flashes average, according to BA.

John Nogowski (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

As he is set to make his major-league debut, Nogowski’s career has nearly come full-circle. From being released by Oakland in 2017 to playing independent baseball, the first baseman has had an improbable path to the big-leagues.

Nogowski put together a career-year in 2019, slashing .295/.413/.476 through 117 games at Memphis. The 27-year-old set personal highs in hits (112), doubles (22), home runs (15) and RBI (75).

He walked (69) more than he struck out (54) for the fourth time in his professional career.

Nogowkski’s is a slick defender at first base. In fact, BA rated him as the best defensive first baseman in the Pacific Coast League last year.

Ricardo Sanchez (Jasen Vinolve/Imagn)

Sanchez, 23, is not ranked by TCN but MLB Pipeline has him at No. 30 in their rankings. He is already on the Cardinals 40-man.

The lefty was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals this past offseason after being designated for assignment by Seattle. Sanchez has three usable pitches — fastball up to 94 mph, a breaking ball and a deceptive changeup.

Scouts say he has the upside of a back-end starter if everything clicks, but he profiles more as a long reliever.

Rob Kaminsky (Jayne Kanin-Oncea/Imagn)

Kaminsky, 25, is another who has come full circle. He was part of the Brandon Moss trade to Cleveland in 2015, but struggled with injuries for most of his career with the Indians. The lefty reached the Tribe’s Triple-A affiliate for the first time in 2019 before he became a minor league free agent this past offseason.

And reunited with the Cardinals in December — the organization that drafted him as a first-rounder in 2013. He was not on the 40-man until now.

Kaminsky throws a spike curveball and an above-average fastball. He also worked on a changeup to right-handed batters in spring training.

Satellite camp additions

Robertson and Dobzanski were both ranked in TCN’s Top 50 this winter. The former was rated at No. 46 while the latter came in at No. 50.

They are the newest additions to the Cardinals’ alternate camp.

Robertson, 25, hit .231/.360/.365 in 123 games between Springfield and High-A Palm Beach last year.

Dobzanski, 24, posted a 2.84 ERA over 46 games across three levels in 2019.

They are joined by Pages, who was profiled earlier.

Related article

St. Louis Cardinals to Resume Saturday with Five New Players

Full roster detail at The Cardinal Nation

To view the two 2020 rosters and to track the status of the Cardinals’ 60-man pool, 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

Detailed team rosters for the entire system can be accessed via the red menu column at the top left (see “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES”).

Exclusive for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Draft Recap 2009-2019 – 10th Round

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© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Add Catcher Pedro Pages to Alternate Camp

photo: Pedro Pages (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Even though there are currently no games or even workouts in St. Louis, the organization’s alternate site camp in Springfield is carrying on as normal, featuring player movement on Tuesday.

The Cardinals have added catching prospect Pedro Pages to their satellite camp, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Pedro Pages

In part of the related moves, on Sunday the team moved Miles Mikolas from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day IL, thus clearing a spot on the 40-man roster and 60-man player pool. Pages used the latter.

Miles Mikolas

Pages is the Cardinals’ 2019 sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic University and turns 22 next month. He slashed .291/.393/.430 over 50 games at Low-A (short-season) State College last summer and is currently The Cardinal Nation’s 47th-ranked prospect. Pages was a non-roster invitee to St. Louis’ 2020 spring training camp, solid recognition for a first-year player.

With Jose Godoy having been added to the Cardinals major league taxi-squad last week, Pages joins top catching prospect Ivan Herrera (ranked no. 6) and Julio Rodirguez (23rd-ranked) as the three catchers at the Springfield satellite camp as of now.

It appears the Cardinals will wait as long as possible to announce the roster change that could potentially affect the 40-man in hope some of the first positive COVID-19 tests could be allowed back by the time they play in Chicago.

St. Louis’ next game is tentatively scheduled at the White Sox on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT.

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Cardinals Minor League Single-Season RBI Leaders Since 1960

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Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardinals Sign USC Lefty John Beller to Minors Deal

photo: John Beller (University of Southern California)

The St. Louis Cardinals once again reached into scouting director Randy Flores’s alma mater as they signed University of Southern California left-handed pitcher John Beller to a minor league contract, announced by the club on Saturday.

Beller is the Cardinals’ ninth undrafted free agent signee since the signing period opened on June 15. This marks the third straight summer Flores has either signed or drafted a player from his former school and employer.

Then-Trojan right-hander Connor Lunn was taken in the 11th round of last year’s draft after outfielder Lars Nootbaar was drafted in the eighth round in 2018.

Beller, 21, had a three-year career at USC and last summer enjoyed a solid stint in the Cape Cod League. In the Cape, the Hermosa Beach, California native was used mostly as a starter, where he compiled a 1-2 record with a 3.52 ERA over seven games (six starts) for the Yarmouth Red Sox.

John Beller

He struck out 32 batters and walked only nine through 30 ⅔ innings of work. With the Trojans, Beller split time between the rotation and bullpen. He made two starts in four appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and posted a 3-0 record and 1.12 ERA.

Both ranked seventh in the Pac-12. He also struck out a team-high 25 batters while walking just six in 24 innings pitched.

As a sophomore in 2019, Beller appeared in 17 games (six starts) and had a 3.86 ERA in 49 innings pitched. He was even better as a true freshman, putting together a 2.72 ERA in 49 ⅔ total innings.

From a scouting standpoint, Baseball America describes Beller as a “pitchability lefty” who excels above his stuff. His 87-90 mph fastball plays up thanks to deception from a high leg kick, and he finishes batters with a sharp, above-average slider that generates swings and misses.

BA says his changeup grades out as an average or better offering and he mixes in an effective backdoor curveball when needed. Beller throws all four of his pitches for strikes and is lauded for going after hitters.

“And he is an elite competitor, who pitches his best against top competition,” BA’s scouting report says. 

Perhaps Beller’s best performance to date was when he dominated No. 2 Vanderbilt this season, giving up just two hits and one run over eight innings.

Most recently, Beller has been staying sharp playing summer baseball. He’s currently pitching for the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas Collegiate League, where he has a 0.90 ERA in four games (three starts).

Like most of the 2020 draft class and all of the undrafted free agent signings, it’s unknown when and where Beller will start his professional career with the Cardinals.

Full roster detail at The Cardinal Nation

To view the two 2020 rosters and to track the status of the Cardinals’ 60-man pool, 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.

Detailed team rosters for the entire system can be accessed via the red menu column at the top left (see “ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES”).

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Kodi Whitley Extends Streak of Cardinals NRI Roster Additions

Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide for less than half price. In addition, our new, limited edition printed and bound Guide is now available.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Griffin Roberts Remains Ready in Case the Call to Play Comes

photo: Griffin Roberts (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Since minor league baseball went on hiatus due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, Griffin Roberts’ journey has taken him to a familiar place.

The right-hander is back home in Midlothian, Virginia — some 876 miles away from Jupiter, Florida — where he was last seen pitching in the St. Louis Cardinals big-league spring training camp in March.

The last few months have been a “rollercoaster” for Roberts – finding gyms and facilities available where he can train and continue baseball activities to stay in shape.

That journey has also led him back to where it all started, at James River High School, playing with a group of 20 to 30 professional baseball players in the area.

“We have what we call a straight up Sandlot thing once a week,” Roberts said. “It’s a good place for us to get our work in. There’s good talent. It is good competition and we all push each other. But things have been a rollercoaster, for sure.”

Earning an invite to big-league spring training camp

Roberts was one of a talented group of Cardinals non-roster invitees to major-league camp this spring that included top prospects Dylan Carlson, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore.

Griffin Roberts

St. Louis’ 2018 first round competitive balance pick, who turned 24 last month, appeared in only one game before camp was shut down, but the biggest thing he took away was learning how to carry himself as a professional.

Roberts said in the lower levels of the minor leagues — you are around players who are just like you — fighting for an opportunity to move up the ladder and reach the big-leagues.

“And then you step into the big-league clubhouse, you are around grown men who have been in there for 10 to 15 years,” Roberts said. “I’m walking in there with Yadi (Yadier Molina) and Waino (Adam Wainwright). It’s like they deserve the immediate respect of everybody in there just because of the way they carry themselves.

“That’s kind of efficacious amongst the group. They set the standard and it’s up to us to hold that.”

At draft time, Roberts was described by Peter Gammons on MLB Network as player with the talent to pitch in the big-leagues the same year he was drafted — due in large part to his calling card slider.

Last year at High-A Palm Beach, Roberts said he struggled with his breaking ball. While he had trust in the pitch against right-handed hitters, he did not always have that same confidence against lefties.

His lefty versus righty splits back this up. Righties hit just .236 against him, but opposing left-handed batters posted a whopping .396 clip.

The Cardinal Nation’s 25th-ranked prospect improved that aspect of his game in the Arizona Fall League, but it wasn’t until he had a conversation with Jack Flaherty in spring training that embedded the use of his slider in his mind.

“One thing he told me was that he recognizes the slider as his putaway pitch,” Griffin said. “And he uses it against lefties and righties. What he does is he takes it and throws it in there against lefties just like he does against righties with confidence and the same intent.

“He gets the same results. That is something I have been trying to work on while I have the time to work on stuff is my breaking stuff against lefties and trusting it.”

Staying ready for an opportunity

2020 appeared to be a big year for Roberts.

Griffin Roberts (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

For one, he was coming off an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League and seemed on track to open the year in the rotation at Double-A Springfield.

An uninterrupted full-season breakout could have vaulted Roberts into the Cardinals top 10 prospect conversation.

The opportunity did not come to pass, though.

“I have always been a take it day-by-day guy,” Roberts said. “During COVID, madness has been tough because you do want to look at the big picture and look at the perspective like, ‘What is going to happen two weeks from now?’ For me, every day I just want to attack it and be the best-version of myself that I can be each and every day because the Cardinals invited 60 guys and I wasn’t included on that roster.”

Roberts said the players, which are mostly playing at the Springfield satellite camp, are his “friends and brothers”, and hopes all of them do well. He added that his job is to stay ready, so if he is given an opportunity, he is prepared.

The former Wake Forest standout said he has carried on his training and workouts as usual. He has been on a full-on in-season routine, although he made it clear that it is impossible to replicate six innings against a full lineup of professional hitters with the atmosphere of baseball including fans.

Roberts said there have been conversations between his agent and the Cardinals about the potential of him playing independent baseball temporarily or winter ball, but he doubts he will go that route.

“It’s just tough,” Roberts said. “Baseball puts a lot of regulations on how the major league baseball players are allowed to travel. And any minor leaguer, whether it would be Griffin Roberts or so and so from another organization, took the opportunity to travel across the country to go play, in my eyes, that kind sends a questionable motive.

“I don’t want to do anything to make the Cardinals appear negative in any light, especially with what is going on right now.”

His focus remains on cracking the Cardinals 60-man player pool.

“I pray the Cardinals call me, man,” Roberts said. “In a perfect world, everybody stays healthy and everybody gets to play, but that is not exactly how the cards are being dealt to us. I’m staying ready and hopefully I get an opportunity.”

Enjoying the deep sea

Roberts’ tentative plan is to tone back his baseball activities around September when the normal minor league season would end.

Since he has perhaps had more free time than ever in his life, Roberts has picked up a pole and gone to the deep sea to fish.

In fact, his mom, Kim Gregory, lives on the Chesapeake Bay and Roberts has spent the last few months doing a lot of salt water fishing on his bass boat in Richmond, Virginia.

“If you don’t see me in the gym or on the field, I’m probably on the water somewhere trying to catch a fish,” Roberts said.

The next story to tell for Roberts is still unwritten — like all the other minor leaguers not in camp. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready for what’s next.

“We don’t know when our opportunity is coming and we are not sure where it may be or when it may be, but we know at some point, we are going to get the chance to play again,” Roberts said. “And we are going to do what we can to be ready for it.”

For more

Catch Derek Shore’s series of features catching up on former Cardinals in their post-playing lives.

Where are they now?

Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Jordan Walker’s Play Speaks for Itself, but his Prep Coach Adds More

photo: Jordan Walker (Perfect Game Baseball)

Do not ask him to boast about the next school that offered him a baseball scholarship or about his feats coming off a night in which he went 4-for-4 including two home runs.

Jordan Walker will not do it.

“We used to have to brag for him when we would go back to school,” said Jaxson Sprull, Walker’s best friend and former teammate at Decatur High School in Georgia. “It’s just not in him to talk about himself at all.”

Bulldogs head baseball coach Robby Gilbert said the St. Louis Cardinals first-round pick is “almost embarrassed” by the accolades at times.

But as scouts would say, that is just a part of his makeup.

“At this day in age to be that high-caliber of a kid athletically where everybody knows who you are — he’s just extremely humble,” Gilbert said. “He loves his teammates. There is nothing beneath him.

“He is just that humble of a kid that he just wants to go play the game of baseball and he wants to be his teammates’ biggest cheerleader when he is not up to bat.”

Jordan Walker

Becoming Georgia’s top prospect

Legend has it that Walker found his power in tee ball, when he hit a home run that broke a window in his grandmother’s car, parked well beyond the outfield fence.

Walker’s father, Derek, told the St. Louis media he has video for proof.

The story grows as Jordan has grown, but there is no question about his power potential.

Sprull said Walker has always had the ability to crush the ball, but it wasn’t until his seventh grade year when his power started becoming evident.

“He wasn’t that huge kid that he is now, but he could just swing it like nobody else I had ever seen,” Sprull said. “He just kept getting bigger and hitting the ball harder.”

During their freshman year, Sprull realized that perhaps his friend could be drafted and play professional baseball one day after Walker jumped from junior varsity to varsity in a week and hit a home run in his first game at the higher level.

The Cardinals saw a lot of Walker last summer on the showcase circuit. Last year as a junior he hit .519 with 17 homers.

Jordan Walker (MLB Prospect Development Pipeline League)

It was Walker’s junior season that Gilbert remembers with home run tales.

Decatur was at Maynard Jackson High School on March 11 — a region game. Gilbert said the night was bizarre in that everything was not going the Bulldogs’ way.

First, the umpire showed up an hour and a half late. Gilbert said the team went through a lot of adversity, but suddenly, Walker was up with a runner on and a chance to do damage.

“And he absolutely hits a missile to right-center,” Gilbert said. “It was a ball that barely lifted off the ground — it felt like. It was still going up as it crossed the fence. For him to pull a baseball and hit a home run, it’s easy. A lot of that stuff we talked about, ‘Hey man, you have to be willing to go the other way when the pitcher is throwing you away.’ You have to adjust to what they are giving you.

“That was a perfect example. He stepped up to the plate and everything was away, away and away. He just said, ‘You know what, I’m going that way.’ I’m telling you — he changed the whole dynamic of that game.”

Coach Robby Gilbert, Decatur High School, Georgia

The second home run that Gilbert remembers was at Grayson High School on February 18 — the season had just started and the temperature was at 40 degrees at first pitch.

“It’s brutally cold and fairly windy,” Gilbert said. “It’s one of those things — if you are a pitcher, it’s a great day. If you are a hitter, you are like, ‘Please don’t let me get jammed.’ You don’t want the bat to be tingling your hands. But again, he comes up and hits one to left-center on that kind of evening, not ideal conditions, but it was the same thing.

“Same trajectory, a line drive that was going up as it crossed the fence. You just sit there and go, ‘Wow, this kid is different.’”

Walker was unable to complete his senior season at Decatur because of the coronavirus pandemic, but in May he was named Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .457 with four home runs in 16 games.

According to Baseball America, Walker was one of the high school players who managed to get seen by scouts early and often before all play was halted.

Would he have benefited further from a full 2020 spring season?

“I firmly think if he had a whole season to play — I could easily see him being a top 10 pick,” Gilbert said. “He is very disciplined. He is a student of the game. He wants to learn to get better. He is a kid that is not scared to be challenged.

“He doesn’t get fooled easily (at the plate).You may sneak one by him or catch him a little bit off guard one time, but you’re not going to catch him twice. A lot of times pitchers think, ‘Oh man, I got this pitch by him. I’m going to do it again.’ And then he’s hitting one 400 feet.”

Gilbert said that Walker has not fully tapped into his full hitting and power potential, especially as he starts to understand how to utilize his whole body and further matures physically.

“Then he is really going to hurt some baseballs,” Gilbert said.

Walker is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, earning comparisons to the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant, which Sprull said is an accurate comparison because they are of similar stature and have athleticism to go with height.

“Another good one (comp) to me would be Scott Rolen, because he’s a big power-hitting third baseman with the hands of a middle infielder that can really move for his size,” Sprull added.

Gilbert said he believes Walker can stay at third base down the road despite concern expressed by some scouts.

“My thing is, tell Jordan Walker he can’t do something and he will go prove you wrong,” Gilbert said. “He works extremely hard. He is going to continue to get better with his lateral movements and he is just so smooth and solid.”

Outside the game

Walker has also excelled in the classroom, earning a 3.98 GPA and a scholarship to Duke. His father is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and works for a computer software company.

His mother, Katrina, earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and a master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a teacher at the same school Walker attended.

Walker is expected to sign with the Cardinals and chase his dream of becoming a major-league player.

“I think St. Louis is getting a steal,” Gilbert said. “The Cardinals are getting a kid who is as great as he is on the field — he is even better off the field. He is going to be involved in the community, where he is at. He is every coach’s dream.”

Away from the game and the classroom, Gilbert said he has never been around someone that consumes as much food as Walker.

“I give him a hard time,” Gilbert said. “I always keep snacks in my classroom and of course baseball kids come in my room all the time. He loves fruit snacks. If he is going to sign a sponsorship deal, it better be with fruit snacks.”

Asked where Walker would sign a sponsorship deal first, Sprull said 100% with the cereal Cocoa Puffs.

“He has come to my house and eaten a whole box of my mom’s cocoa puffs in one sitting,” Sprull said. “She told him she owed him a lifetime supply now. For his birthday this year, I brought him four boxes and he finished them in about two days.

“I could definitely see a lucrative deal there.”

Related article

Cardinals Select Jordan Walker in 2020 MLB Draft’s First Round

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

Where are they now? St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Pitcher Kurt Heyer

Now Available! – TCN’s New 2020 Prospect Guide

232 pages, 97,000 words, over 60 player capsules, history and much more – in both PDF and spiral-bound book versions. Foreword by Dan McLaughlin. Order your copy today!

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide for less than half price. In addition, our new, limited edition printed and bound Guide is now available.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Where are they now? St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Mitch Harris

photo: Mitch Harris (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Editor’s note: This is the next installment of our series in which Derek Shore catches up with former St. Louis Cardinals players, both major and minor leaguers. Many more interviews are coming soon, but to follow all of them, you must be a member The Cardinal Nation. Join today!

Mitch Harris is one of the great stories of St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

From graduating from the Naval Academy in 2008, Harris served in the United States Navy for four years, eight months and eight days, earning the rank of Lieutenant. He was also drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2008 draft.

After serving his time in the Navy, Harris became the first graduate from the Naval Academy to graduate and pitch in the big-leagues in over 90 years.

But he endured his share of trials and tribulations before making his major-league debut in 2015.

From not being able to condition his arm while in service to returning to baseball and throwing 80 mph in a big-league spring training game, Harris’ story is a tribute to his hard work and dedication.

In this edition of “Where are they now Cardinals?”, Harris discusses his service in the Navy, his time with St. Louis and where he is now.

Derek Shore: Mitch, I have a variety of subjects I’d like to talk about, but let’s start with your career with the Cardinals. Now that you’ve been out of the game for a few years now, how do you look back on your time in the organization?

Mitch Harris: “For me, it was an absolute honor to wear the Birds on the Bat. For them to give me an opportunity after everything I’ve gone through, they are always going to have a special place in my heart just because they are the organization that allowed me to fulfill that dream.

“They gave me that shot. It was an honor to play for them. Looking back at the overall career, I think everybody would say when they are done, they would have loved to have played longer. The takeaway for me is we’re just proud that we did it the right way and we accomplished it.

“Man, of course, there are some things I would change both on and off the field. But ideally, I’m proud of what we did and accomplished. I’ve got no regrets.”

DS: Do you still get goosebumps thinking about being the first graduate from the Naval Academy to pitch in the big-leagues in over 90 years?

Mitch Harris (USA TODAY Sports Images)

MH: “Yeah, of course. Even from that, people point out the difference of having to serve first and then go play. It’s something I don’t take lightly and something I’m very proud of. I wouldn’t say it gives me chills. It’s something I don’t think about often, when I do and am reminded of it – it’s an honor to think that’s something I get to tell my kids and grandkids.”

DS: Is baseball out of your system? How much do you miss playing?

MH: “Baseball will never be out of my system. I love it. I miss it. I also know that this dad bod cannot maintain the rigors of baseball life. I’m enjoying being a dad. I’m enjoying the new line of work I’m in. I still am around the game because of the line of work that I’m in.

“Now, I can kind of see it from both perspectives. I’m really having a lot of fun.”

DS: Where are you at with the military? Are you completely done?

MH: “Yes. I am completely out.”

DS: Some who were at the Naval Academy in various sports were allowed to bypass their service to go play professional sports. Was that frustrating for you?

MH: “It definitely was. The frustrating part was trying to let the higher-ups know, I wanted it to work out to where I could do both. I don’t think that point ever got across because I was willing to do literally anything to be able to play and serve.

“Obviously, we would have had to get creative to see what that looked like. But then to see them just blatantly let people out – that was the frustrating thing for me because I was basically saying, ‘I’m willing to both serve and play,’

“That would have been difficult enough, but the fact that I wanted to make sure that I could still do both, was important to me. We just couldn’t make that work.”

DS: What was the experience like keeping your arm in shape during your time in service?

MH: “I have to be honest and frank with you – I didn’t. I kept my body in the best shape as I could knowing when I had the opportunity – I could work on my arm. You just can’t keep your arm in shape when you are on a ship and deployed. You can only throw on the flight deck so many times and you can only get long toss to a certain length.

“Basically, I just told myself, ‘If I just stay in great shape that when the opportunity presents itself, I knew I didn’t have to worry about my body breaking down.’ I could really push the arm back to what I knew it could do.”

DS: After serving those five years in the Navy, I remember watching you in a big-league game in spring training. The Cardinals brought you in and you were just coming back. You were throwing about 80 miles per hour. Were there ever any doubts coming back playing baseball and even reaching the highest level?

MH: “Oh, of course. I think with the first year or so coming in max-effort 82 or 83 – realizing I’m 10 mph from what I used to throw – that was very disheartening and disappointing. But it was also a challenge to figure out, ‘What am I made of here? Can I really get back to what I know is there? And can I prove to the people that doubted I can do this?’

“There were definitely times when I thought I wasn’t progressing like I wanted and not living up to the expectations I have for myself. I was definitely nervous a few times, but I didn’t give up. I wanted to make sure I was told to go home, not that I choose to go home.

“On the worst days, I told myself, ‘Tomorrow is another day. I’m going to show up to the park the next day.’ That’s what we did. Fortunately enough, we did that enough to where the arm finally turned the corner. We were able to really progress about the second or third year.”

DS: By the time you earned the call-up to the big-leagues with St. Louis, were you nervous in your big-league debut with your background and all that?

MH: “I get that question a lot. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I think the difference was I knew how to control the nerves. It was definitely new scenery for me, but having gone through the things I have gone through up to that point, I understood how to control that nervousness and utilize that for good, not detriment.

“I tried to take that nervous energy and use that to propel my talents and efforts in everything I could to focus on my job at hand.”

DS: How much did life change for you after you made your debut and had success with the Cardinals?

MH: “Personally, really not a whole lot. In terms of notoriety and things of that nature, it definitely changed a little bit. I also didn’t have a long career, so it wasn’t like I was walking down the street and people would stop you. I think it definitely opened doors in terms of what I was going to do next.

“I think down the road it may lead to some speaking, a possible book and movie stuff that has been talked about. Things of that nature have changed. It has brought some opportunities. Other than that, that’s kind of it.”

DS: What is the latest with the movie and book situation?

MH: “The movie piece, we had a guy approach us and asked if we were interested in allowing that to run its course and to see about the possibility of it taking off. I’m kind of stepped away from that to let it go the direction it wants to go. If they need me, I will get involved. Otherwise, I’ve kind of backed off.

“The book is all me in terms of I have control of everything. We should see a book proposal within the next few weeks, meaning we will be taking it to publishers probably within the next month or so. I’m excited about that.

“My thing is I just want to get the story out there. Not just the one you can just pick up on Google, but the one you can see behind closed doors and understand not only my mindset, but the struggles I went through on the field and off the field both physically and mentally. I think that can relate to a lot of people, especially now with what everybody is going through and what we go through on a daily basis or things in life in general.

“If I can inspire others or encourage others, that’s the whole point of it.”

DS: Do you feel like an inspiration when people tell you that?

MH: “I hope so. I think everyone wants to have a legacy. I think for me now that I have two young kids – I think back to what is everyone’s purpose? What is our why? I feel like God blessed me with a really awesome story. Something that is unique. And if I don’t use that for good, it’s just kind of wasted away.

“I try to think, ‘How can I utilize my story to encourage and impact others?’ That’s how the book came about. I thought about different ways to write it. What we are thinking about doing is telling a story, but also giving it a message as you’re reading that, ‘Man, this is just a normal guy that really got to do some interesting things.’

“But like everybody else, he goes through struggles and life challenges. And he has to overcome these things and has to face adversity. I want to talk about that and be very vulnerable and open about that. Hopefully as people read that and get the story, they are motivated, inspired and encouraged to accomplish whatever it is they are wanting to do. But they also understand along the way they are going to face trials and you are going to have to figure out how to handle that adversity.

“Hopefully, that is what the book can do and give people tools and ideas of how to combat that.”

DS: On Instagram, you released a statement in support of George Floyd and the situation with racism right now. What is your perspective on this and what is happening in the world today?

MH: “It’s funny. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people I’ve served with in the military recently and talking to them about perspective on things, one thing that just keeps coming up to me as I’m thinking about it all is compassion. You think about the Golden Rule and things of that nature. It’s frustrating to me when you sit back and think about life in general and how you treat people and how you want to be treated and how you want your family to be treated.

“The fact in 2020 we are still having a conversation about the color of people’s skin doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t understand how that’s still a topic. The fact that it’s a human being, who has a heart and has a soul. We should be compassionate to each other. If we have differences, we can stand up and say, ‘Let’s have a conversation on things we have differences about and let’s be adults and have those conversations.’

“To me, I don’t understand that. It’s the frustrating part that I just wish we can all come together and say, ‘Let’s have a dialogue.’ Until we do that, we are not going to see change. I think that is what is so nice to finally see is these higher-ups in police organizations actually stepping out to the crowd and saying, ‘Look, I’m not here to just be a barrier and stand in front of you. I want to have a dialogue. I want to have a conversation.’

“That’s great to see. We need more of that. That’s what my whole post was about. If we can be compassionate to each other and show respect and understanding other people are going to have a difference in opinion yet we can still coexist with each other and still love each other, that’s what it’s all about.”

DS: Now that you are out of baseball, what keeps you busy?

MH: “Having two kids under three right now definitely keeps us busy. Obviously, working as a financial adviser keeps me busy. I enjoy it. I have several clients that are still in baseball. It keeps me around the game. I’m anxious as anybody else to get this season started.

“Having nothing to do on a summer night was great initially, but man, it is frustrating now not being able to turn on a baseball game.”

DS: Do you still keep in contact with some of your former Cardinals teammates?

MH: “I do. And it’s great to keep in touch with those guys. Again, several of those are clients. It’s nice to stay involved and be of service however I can to some of those guys. It’s awesome to keep those relationships. I think that’s what I miss most about is the clubhouse piece and the brotherhood.

“That is the part you will never really replicate no matter what you do. That is the part I probably miss most.”

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.

Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide for less than half price. In addition, our new, limited edition printed and bound Guide is now available.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Where are they now? Cardinals Minors Pitcher Corey Baker

photo: Corey Baker (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)

Editor’s note: This is the first of a new series in which Derek Shore catches up with former St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers. To follow all of them, join The Cardinal Nation today!

Corey Baker (USA TODAY Sports Images)

As former St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Mercado came off the shelf at Double-A Springfield on June 11, 2017, the accompanying roster move was the release of longtime organizational swingman Corey Baker.

The move was a bit of a surprise given the right-hander was a 2017 mid-season Texas League All-Star. The then 27-year-old had even been a non-roster invitee to big-league camp that spring before joining Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

But rest assured Baker had a successful career with the Cardinals considering he was drafted in the 49th round (a round that no longer exists) in 2011, first reaching Double-A in 2013. Baker finished his seven-season Cardinals career with a 30-30 record, 12 saves in 20 chances and a 3.80 ERA.

After his playing career, Baker went on to work with the Minnesota Twins as an assistant MLB advanced scout/replay coordinator in 2018 thanks to the recommendation of former Cardinal Jeremy Hefner.

Now, he’s pursuing a new passion.

Corey Baker (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

In this edition of “Where are they now?”, Baker takes us through his playing career with the Cardinals, his job with the Twins and what he’s now doing outside the game.

Derek Shore: First of all, you had a long tenure in the Cardinals organization. How do you reflect on your time in the system?

Corey Baker: “When I reflect on my time in the system, I generally do so in a positive light. While I have my memories of being out on the field and performing, I think I spend more time reflecting on the people I met and the relationships that came out of those years. Life in the minor leagues for most players can be really hard for a lot of reasons and I definitely had my struggles along the way, but I do tend to look back and reflect positively about my time with the Cardinals.”

DS: 2017 marked your final season with the Cardinals, but your release came just a few weeks after playing in the Texas League All-Star game. Two-part question: were you surprised by the sudden release? And did you think right away you had already thrown your last pitch professionally?

CB: “I was a little surprised by my release because of how well I was pitching, but I’d be lying if I said it caught me completely off guard. When there’s a roster move to be made, it’s never a secret. Players coming off the DL or someone getting promoted always reaches the locker room before the corresponding move is made so there’s always speculation.

“As someone who had less than a half of a season left with the Cardinals before becoming a free agent, being an older guy who was repeating the league I knew that my spot was always going to be in jeopardy. It was interesting because there were plenty of other times in my career where I would have been significantly less surprised had I gotten released because of performance, but it happened when it happened and that’s something I had no control over.

“I believed I’d get a shot with another organization so I didn’t think I threw my last pitch professionally. Again, I knew I was an older guy and that would hurt. But I did think I had proved myself at a high enough level that someone might take a chance on me. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to kick around in the minors forever. I always wanted to know if I could pitch in the big leagues. All 30 teams had a chance to sign me and they didn’t, so that was a clear sign it was time to move on and it was definitely for the best.”

DS: On a slightly off-topic note — paying minor leaguers has always been a hot topic, but now so more than ever. As someone who was in the minors for years, what’s your response about what’s going on in the game right now?

CB: “I’m glad that minor leaguers getting paid so poorly is continuing to be addressed. I think it’s terrible that all 30 teams have basically decided to pay a group of people horribly and scare them into doing anything about it because they are “chasing a dream” and don’t have any union representation. But honestly I don’t think it’ll change in the near future because they’ll always find enough bodies to fill rosters with.

“It’s super unfortunate that that is the reality of it. I chose to play all those years making little money – and while it doesn’t make it right, others are going to continue to do so. I can’t say enough good things about the big leaguers who have signed their deals and have given back financially to help minor leaguers. It would be great to see more of that.”

DS: Hundreds of players across MiLB have been released in the last couple of days due to something not performance-based. For someone who has been through something similar, what advice do you have for a minor leaguer affected by this?

CB: “I would say that if you still believe in yourself, continue to be a good self-evaluator of what you need to do to get better so if an opportunity comes you are ready. I would also say embrace the unknown a bit. Life after baseball goes on and there’s a lot of great opportunities for former professional athletes, so take it a day at a time and focus on constant self-improvement.”

DS: After your playing career, you joined Jeremy Hefner and the Twins as an assistant MLB advanced scout/replay coordinator. What was that job like for you?

CB: “First of all working with Jeremy was a great experience in itself. He’s extremely smart and his dedication to improving himself and everyone around him is unmatched. He’s going to continue to do great things in baseball. That job was a great learning experience for me in so many ways. It was my first job off the field and I got to experience a Major League locker room.

“I wished I had made it as a player, but getting to see what that was like even on a different side was really cool. Ultimately, that year gave me the finality in the game that I needed and I learned that baseball is not where I am meant to be.”

DS: Where and what are you doing now that you are out of baseball?

CB: “I currently live in Seattle. I moved out here with my partner, Jenna, last August and we bought a house shortly after. I work for a renewable energy company focused on solar distribution.”

DS: Do you ever think you will get back in the game again, albeit as a coach or scout?

CB: “I don’t see myself getting back into baseball. I can honestly say I don’t miss much about the game. I love having weekends and time with my family and friends. I am living a happier and more well-rounded life outside of the game. I love baseball and loved most of my time in it, but I feel very strongly that there are other things in my life I want to experience and I’m so happy I get to do that now.”

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League History Series – Best Level – 1963-2019

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide for less than half price. In addition, our new, limited edition printed and bound Guide is now available.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Two-Sport Star Named Jordan – Brian Jordan

Excuse Brian Jordan if he feels he has been shorted in the fame department. The former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder was the rare professional athlete who excelled in two sports and is still convinced that nobody has heard of him.

“I’m kind of like the Rodney Dangerfield of two-sport athletes,” Jordan said in a phone interview on Tuesday morning.

Michael Jordan’s baseball stint in the recent spotlight serves as a good reminder that Brian (no relation) arguably doesn’t get enough respect in the two-sport discussion.

It should be noted that Brian played strong safety for the Atlanta Falcons from 1989 through 1991, starting in 30 National Football League games and had five interceptions. He was voted as an alternate to the Pro Ball team during the 1991 season.

And that’s just his brief professional football career.

Brian Jordan

After deciding to focus on baseball full-time in 1992, Jordan made his major-league debut later that year with the Cardinals and broke through in 1993, slashing .309/.351/.543 in 242 at-bats. He went on to 31.7 career Wins Above Replacement.

That’s more than Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders combined in baseball.

It begs the question: why is Brian Jordan always in the shadow of Bo, Deion and even MJ in the two-sport conversation?

“It starts with I went to a smaller college at the University of Richmond,” Jordan said. “I really had to earn my way up. Nobody really knew who Brian Jordan was because I went to a smaller college and then the fact I got injured in the Senior Bowl when I was really making a statement of who Brian Jordan was.”

Out of college, Jordan was a projected third round pick. He then moved up NFL mock draft boards even further before the Senior Bowl, projecting him to go as early as the first round and to be the second safety taken in the 1989 Draft.

Future Hall of Famer Steve Atwater wound up being the first safety off the board, going to the Denver Broncos at No. 20 overall.

“I had a lot going for me until that injury in the Senior Bowl,” Jordan said. “I don’t think anybody expected me to return from a broken leg and dislocated ankle to one, play back in the NFL, according to a lot of the combine doctors that looked at my injury. And two, return to being a really good athlete.”

Torn between two sports

Like MJ, Brian was torn between two sports. But like Deion, he chose to play both for some time.

Former Cardinals scouting director Fred McAlister, who passed away in 2008, told Sports Illustrated in a feature story in 1996 he first spotted Jordan in April 1988 playing for the University of Richmond. It was an exhibition game against the Triple-A Richmond Braves.

Jordan cracked a home run, a double, a single and stole a base.

“He did everything a scout dreams of,” McAlister told SI. “I thought to myself, ‘If I could sign this guy, I’d jump off the Gateway Arch.’”

Two months later, the Cardinals selected Jordan in the first round of the 1988 draft, but he returned to college for his senior year and gained All-Yankee Conference recognition in football.

In April 1989, Jordan was chosen in the seventh round of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo was deep at defensive back and tried to slip him through waivers after the final roster cut, with the hope of resigning him.

But the Falcons grabbed him off the waiver wire, and he wound up in the same defensive backfield as Sanders.

“I proved a lot of people wrong by coming back and playing in the NFL,” Jordan said. “I didn’t think I was going to get drafted after visiting with the doctors at the combine.”

Jordan finished third in the NFL in tackles in 1990 and the following season was a Pro Bowl alternate, all while playing baseball each summer in the Cardinals minor league system.

He said playing both sports at the same time wasn’t a challenge, but it was more of prioritizing his time that was the biggest issue.

“I had to figure out, ‘Ok, I’m going to play 35 minor league games and then I’m going to prep and get ready for football,’” Jordan said. “There are different muscles involved. I was not one of those guys like Deion, who was a cornerback and all I had to do was cover a guy and not hit hard.

“I didn’t really hit hard. I didn’t do a lot of tackling, but I knew at strong safety, I was like a linebacker in Jerry Glanville’s system. I had to really prepare myself and get strong, bulk up and prepare myself for the hits.”

After the 1991 season, Jordan’s contract with the Falcons expired and he said he wasn’t yet ready to specialize in baseball.

“I was starting to take off,” Jordan said. “People were starting to know who Brian Jordan was in the NFL. I learned a lot from Deion. One thing about Deion is he studied the game. He knew it was going to happen before it happened. That went great with his athletic ability. I was going to get to that point of learning the game.”

But Jordan said Atlanta “kind of dragged their feet on resigning me and the Cardinals came calling.” He signed a new contract with St. Louis to play baseball exclusively.

Brian Jordan (Getty Images)

“I decided, ‘Well, I played three years in the minor leagues when I was playing in the NFL. Let me give Major League Baseball a shot and see what a full-season feels like,’” Jordan said. “It’s funny because I used to call baseball players wimps compared to the NFL. I was like, ‘You guys got it easy.’

“When I played my first 162-game season with the Cardinals, I had a new respect for baseball.”

Adjusting to baseball full-time

Episode 7 of The Last Dance, the docu-series on Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls, shows MJ quitting basketball for minor league baseball after his father’s 1993 murder.

Michael played one season of minor league ball with the Chicago White Sox Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons, where he hit .202 in 127 games after having not swung a bat competitively since he was in high school.

“I’m often asked, ‘Do you think Michael Jordan could have made it to the major leagues?’” Brian said. “I tell them, ‘Hey, if he didn’t start at 31 and maybe at 25 or 24, there’s no doubt in my mind he would’ve made it to major-leagues just by his competitive nature.’”

MJ’s hitting coach Mike Barnett said in the seventh installment of The Last Dance the thing he remembers about that season was Michael started the season with a 13-game hitting streak, but he knew a steady diet of breaking balls were on the way.

“Every night during that hitting streak, I’m kind of going, ‘When’s it going to happen? And finally it did,’” Barnett said. “He probably did not see a fastball in the strike zone for a month and a half. Now, they are trying to get him out with breaking balls. And it’s breaking ball after breaking ball after breaking ball.

“He’s swinging at every single one of them up there.”

After having struggled mightily with the breaking ball, Michael had to learn to make the adjustments at the plate, and prove he could hit the breaking ball.

“I have to play catch up, but I’m going to do it,” Michael said on the documentary.

Barnett said Michael would hit off the breaking ball machine early in the day before a night game, hit more after regular batting practice and then finish the day by working on the machine again.

“By August, you could see it building,” Barnett said. “He kept getting better and better and better.”

Brian Jordan said he laughed when he saw that part of the documentary because that describes his first three weeks in the big-leagues.

“I came in thinking the game was real easy,” Brian said. “They were throwing me fastballs and I was hitting them out of the park and running around the bases thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to be the next Hank Aaron if it’s this easy.’”

Then all of a sudden, Jordan remembers playing a game on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Right-hander Doug Drabek was on the mound and threw him nothing but curveballs.

“I struck out four times against Drabek,” Jordan said. “That last time going up to the plate I felt hopeless. I remembered that feeling.”

Jordan said he worked diligently to learn how to hit the curveball. He remembers going down to Florida for a month to work with Cardinals coach Dave Ricketts, who threw him curveballs every morning.

“Next thing you know, I’m back really quick and that was my favorite pitch to hit,” Jordan said. “Just as I made adjustments – I feel like Michael Jordan could have been that type of player.”

Looking back on his dual-sport career

In the middle of his baseball career, Jordan told SI that when his baseball career is over — he will have proven himself in both sports — but his personality will always make him the invisible two-sport athlete.

When asked to expand upon that now, Jordan said he always had that humble, quiet personality.

“I just went about my business,” Jordan said. “I played hard. I did some good things. I wasn’t really heavily marketing myself to the public. I was never that Nike guy or Adidas. For me, it was about being a family guy, working hard and being quiet about it.

“That’s just me. That’s always been me. I get excited when I’m on the field. I want to pump my teammates up and I’m that clubhouse leader. Nobody ever saw that in the clubhouse. If you talk to coaches and managers, they saw that I wanted to win. And I wanted those guys to speak up, but it was in a quiet way.”

Sanders told SI that he believes his buddy will never receive the same recognition as his two-sport predecessors.

Brian Jordan (via Twitter @TwoSportman)

“Bo was the first one, so he had the marketability,” Sanders told the publication in 1996. “And I was the second, but I had my own style that made me different. I think Brian’s just Brian. He’s just a good dude.”

Jordan now spends his days on air as an Atlanta Braves pre- and post-game analyst for Fox Sports South. He also just completed writing his fourth children’s book.

And he said he misses playing football the most because that’s always been his favorite sport, but he has no regrets as he looks back on his two-sport career.

“I look back and I say, ‘Sometimes, I wish I would’ve played that next year,” Jordan said. “I didn’t know four years at the time would get you a full pension for the NFL. I stopped at three years. I was just reaching that peak in football. I knew if I played that fourth year, I would’ve made the Pro Bowl and you would’ve seen my name in lights.

“That’s the only thing. I have no regrets. I was happy to be able to play 15 years of major-league baseball. My body feels great right now. I’m still playing basketball and running around with the kids. I made the right decision.”

Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation

St. Louis Cardinals Draft Recap 2009-2019 – Second Round

Not yet a member?

Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Annual members may purchase the new 2020 Prospect Guide for less than half price. In addition, our new, limited edition printed and bound Guide is now available.

Follow Derek Shore on Twitter @D_Shore23.

© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.