New Springfield Cardinals’ manager Joe Kruzel had a memorable first evening in town as he was introduced to the team and the area.
“I didn’t expect a tornado on my first day,” Kruzel said.
But when the St. Louis Cardinals first notified him that he would take over their Double-A club as their sixth manager in franchise history, Kruzel said he pulled over on the side of the road in his hometown of Hamilton, OH and screamed out of his car as farm director Gary LaRocque was on the other line.
“It was a very emotional day for me,” Kruzel said. “It really was. To be in a situation where you have been in the lower-levels for all that time and to have the opportunity to be put in a position, I’m very grateful to Mr. DeWitt, Mo, Girsch and Gary to have entrusted in me to be the leader of this 2019 Springfield Cardinals.
“I’m humbled and I’m honored to be that person here this year.”
Kruzel was officially introduced as the 2019 skipper on Thursday night as part of a meet-and-greet event with the Springbirds Red Access Members, essentially season-ticket holders.
The Cardinals officially named Kruzel as their Springfield manager last month. He has a mark of 369-340 in seven seasons as a minor league manager, including six managerial seasons with the Cardinals and one with the Cincinnati Reds organization.
Kruzel said he is looking forward to managing at Double-A for the first time in his professional coaching career. He said his philosophy as a coach is to create an atmosphere for the players to enjoy coming to the ballpark.
“We’re trying to prepare these guys to win in St. Louis,” Kruzel said. “We are trying to get them physically, emotionally and mentally prepared here so they can do the job in St. Louis to help the Cardinals win championships.”
Kruzel also understands that Double-A, especially the Texas League, is a different animal compared to the lower levels of the minor leagues.
There are fewer opponents, hitting considered to be more advanced and longer travel.
Kruzel said the biggest difference at Double-A is the players are going to have to start producing rather than just developing their skills.
Asked to assess the talent that could come through Springfield in 2019, Kruzel assumes it will be very similar to years past. His expectation is they will feature some talented players that are developing and on the cusp of contributing in the big leagues.
Kruzel recalled advice he recently received from former Cardinals All-Star and now minor league hitting instructor Ryan Ludwick over dinner.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Be yourself,’’’ Kruzel recalled Ludwick saying. “I have watched you over the years and I keep my eye on you. He said, ‘Don’t go there and be someone you’re not. Just go there and be yourself.’”
Kruzel expects to report to Jupiter, FL on Feb. 15 to help out in big-league camp. He should also be among those in STEP Camp with the rest of the minor leaguers reporting soon after.
Springfield will break camp on March 30 and open the season on the road at NW Arkansas (KC) on April 4. Opening Day at Hammons Field is set for April 11 against the Naturals as well.
What is next
Derek Shore will be back for another season as The Cardinal Nation’s Springfield Cardinals beat reporter. Catch his in-depth team reports, exclusively for TCN members, posted each Thursday morning all season long.
Derek Shore discusses four top St. Louis Cardinals prospects who missed our new 2019 Top 50 list, led by The Cardinal Nation’s third-round draft pick, Mateo Gil, and concludes with a deep sleeper to watch in 2019.
photo: Tommy Edman (Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos)
The Springfield Cardinals of the Double-A Texas League had one of their more down seasons in recent memory by the wins and losses, but certainly held their own considering a young team adapting to an advanced league and plenty of roster turnover in the process.
Despite not making the postseason for the second straight season, the S-Cards had many new arrivals earn a chance to develop at Double-A and the organization enhanced their depth in arms from trades that contributed at Springfield by the end of the season.
Not only that, but more importantly, Springfield played a big role in Triple-A Memphis’ current playoff run to the Pacific Coast League title.
A lofty 15 Springbirds from the 2018 season are on the Redbirds postseason roster. That number swells to 18 if you count injured Ryan Helsley, Landon Beck, and Andrew Morales.
Springfield manager Johnny Rodriguez explained with all of the transactions at the top in St. Louis with the youth movement at the major-league level – many were pushed to higher levels to backfill despite not quite being ready for that next step of competition.
“Some other guys took advantage of that and really took steps forward,” Rodriguez said, listing Tommy Edman, Ramon Urias and Edmundo Sosa as examples. “It’s a good (recipe). There is always a positive. We want to win, no doubt. But you want to create a winning culture at the low levels going up. As long as you have a continuity of development, players moving and playing at this level, learning how to play to this level and getting ready for the next level. Then you will always have a pipeline going right to the big leagues.
“You can see from (Harrison) Bader to (Tyler) O’Neill to (Paul) DeJong to (Dakota) Hudson, and (Austin) Gomber. They all are from the pipeline. You take a (few) out of the picture and they are all Cardinals. The continuity of developing players at each level to get to the next level is going to help our major-league club – and it shows.”
The 2018 edition of the Cardinals featured a lot of inconsistency, mostly due to their youth while playing in a league that this year was considered older, according to Rodriguez.
With a 33-37 first half and 27-42 second half, the club ended a combined 60-79 on the season, a dismal .432 winning percentage. That is the worst mark in the division and just a half-game from worst in the league.
On a positive note, the Cardinals finished only two games out in the first half, but still finished in last place. They played .500 ball at home (19-17), but struggled to grind out wins on the road (14-20).
The second half was a different story.
Springfield had losing records both home (15-18) and away (12-24), finishing 13 games out of first, in fourth/last-place.
“We were less experienced than the other teams in our division that play each other a lot,” Rodriguez said. “I thought there was a lot of positives from an individual standpoint. We didn’t have that bad of a year. I think we added some real good arms. A lot of players here that weren’t ready. Those players got some experience. It could have been worse, to be honest.”
The Texas League is a full-season league made up of a 140-game regular season, which began April 5 and concluded on September 3. The eight-team league is divided into two divisions with the Cardinals Double-A club placed in the North.
Springfield got out of the gates strongly, taking 13 of 22 games in April. The offense led the way with a .282 average, but the pitching was exposed as its 4.82 ERA indicates.
The Cardinals offense slowed down to a .249 collective average in May and the club dropped 17 of 31 games, but still remained in first with a half-game lead.
But as the first half wound down, Springfield lost 11 of its final 17 games as they fell from first to last-place in the matter of three weeks. Arkansas won the first-half title.
“The first half with the bullpen we had – you look at Arkansas – they are all second year in this league and older guys,” Rodriguez said. “Same goes with Tulsa and Northwest (Arkansas). They kept their guys a long while and that hurt. “
As the records reset, Springfield could not find any early momentum, losing nine of its first 10 games in the second half. The Cards followed up a dismal June (7-19) with a much-improved July (16-14) as they entered the dog days of August in third-place with a 17-22 record, three and half games out of first in the second-half race.
The key behind their success was a more stabilized bullpen.
That said, the Cardinals lost that momentum again and finished with a disappointing 10-19 record over the final 29 games.
“With all of our movement, I’m not going to look at the record,” Rodriguez said. “I’m going to look at all the positives. We did continue to fight and continued to play hard. A lot of positives came out of (Lane) Thomas, Edman, Sosa, (Chris) Ellis, (Evan) Mendoza getting the experience here, and Andy Young.
“We held our own in a league that this year was older. We had a right-handed lineup. We didn’t have that bad of a year. I think we gave up leads towards the seventh inning – 17 or 18 (times). The bullpen hurt the team’s performance. When you blow over 20 games when you have the lead after the seventh, you split that and just blow 10 – I’m in first-place or a game and a half or two with three left playing (Tulsa) for the (second-half) championship.
“In the first-half, we blew more than the second half reliever-wise and we were two games out and we were right there the second to last game of the first half. So to me, you put all that into context and it is not a bad year.”
In aggregate, Springfield was younger than most of its competition.
Of the eight teams in the league, both the Cardinals hitters and pitchers averaged out as the second youngest in the Texas League. Specifically, the position players were 23.5 years of age compared to the league average of 23.8.The hurlers averaged 23.6, a half-year under the TL average of 24.1.
As an organization, the Cardinals have traditionally been known for their pitching. This year’s version of the S-Cards were led by the offense, however.
A key reason behind Springfield’s struggles in 2018 was the 4.58 team ERA, seventh in the eight-team league.
20 different pitchers started for Springfield in 2018, including Anthony Shew with 19, Connor Jones with 17, and Jake Woodford with 16. Big-league rehabbers Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, and Michael Wacha also started games.
The 2018 pitching staff, tutored by first-year pitching coach Darwin Marrero, logged the already mentioned ERA of 4.58. The league average ERA was 4.18.
Another negative about the Springfield pitching staff was the fewest amount of punchouts (991) in the league and couple that with the most free passes (505) does make for a good recipe for success on the mound.
With 70 hit by pitches, the Cardinals had the second-most in the league, trailing only Midland (OAK) with 79. They also served up the third-most long balls with 128 on the season.
In terms of baserunners, the Cardinals’ WHIP of 1.42 was sixth-worst in the Texas League. The league average was 1.36.
By contrast, Springfield’s starters (4.49 ERA) were much more effective than the relievers (4.70 ERA).
“I think even when we changed the starters – starters went five to six innings – the theme of the year was just the relieving core,” Rodriguez said. “We were not able to when were tied to hold it for us to go ahead. When we had the lead, we couldn’t hold it.”
Under second-year hitting coach Jobel Jimenez, the Cardinals offense was a powerful group, ranking second in the league with 149 homers.
Although, Springfield was sixth in runs per game (4.46), compared to the most prolific offense in the league at 4.94. The league-average was 4.59.
The Cards were just fifth in batting average at .260 and seventh with a .319 on-base percentage. However, they were second with a .408 slugging percentage and fourth with a .727 OPS.
In counting stats, the Cardinals were dead-last in doubles (205) and seventh with only 21 triples.
A shortfall across the entire system, including the big-league club, is stolen bases. Springfield stole just 69 bags, second-fewest in the league.
Fielding was a strong suit for the 2018 Cardinal,s an emphasis under the defensive-minded manager Rodriguez.
The club’s fielding percentage was tops in the league at .982 and they turned the third-most double plays with 332.
The catching was also a strength as Springfield had the third-fewest passed balls (nine). The catching corps threw out only 29 percent of attempted basestealers, though. That is only sixth in the league. The league average is 31 percent.
The 25 players on the active Opening Day roster included a whopping 14 returning players who spent time at Double-A last season.
From among those returnees, Ryan Helsley, Andrew Knizner, and Randy Arozarena headlined the initial roster. Although Arozarena spent much of the 2018 campaign at Memphis, Helsley missed a lot of the season with a shoulder issue and Knizner had two stints up at Triple-A.
Tommy Edman, John Nogowski, Connor Jones and Darren Seferina were also key returnees, though the latter was released after only 20 games due to a slow start.
The Cardinals Opening Day roster also featured 11 newcomers, led by Jake Woodford, Conner Greene, Sam Tewes, Hector Mendoza, Edmundo Sosa and Ramon Urias.
In addition, there were several brand-new Cardinals, including breakout star Lane Thomas, power-hitting outfielder Victor Roache, and Granden Goetzman, who was released in late June.
As the season went on, the Cardinals added a number of players from High-A who contributed – position players Evan Mendoza, Andy Young, Stefan Trosclair, Blake Drake, Johan Mieses and Chase Pinder. Pitchers Anthony Shew, Mike O’Reilly, Casey Meisner, Evan Kruczynski, Austin Warner, Junior Fernandez, and Will Latcham also joined the club.
Derian Gonzalez, who is on the Cardinals 40-man roster, joined the club after rehabbing from an injury with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
In-season acquisitions made an impact to the team’s success as well. Those joining Springfield through trades include Genesis Cabrera, Seth Elledge, Roel Ramirez and Elniery Garcia, all pitchers.
Others who contributed include Thomas Spitz (released), Jeremy Martinez, Chris Chinea and Luke Dykstra (released). Pitchers include Ramon Santos, Matt Pearce, Jacob Evans (released), Landon Beck, Estarlin Arias, Ian McKinney (released), Yeison Medina, Austin Sexton, and Colton Thomson.
In total, Springfield made 175 player transactions this season.
Rodriguez noted a number of standouts on this year’s Springfield team.
The second-year manager admitted Edman stood out the most, “developing into a sound hitter and really made strides as an offensive guy.”
Another standout was Andrew Knizner.
“Knizner got so much better defensively,” Rodriguez said. “That’s a big positive. He can hit and is going to hit. He has got some things to clean up offensively, but he is going to hit. He got so much better defensively.”
Here were the rest of Rodriguez’s comments on standouts for this season.
“Sosa took advantage of playing a lot,” Rodriguez said. “Mendoza took advantage. Young played a lot. We have added some good arms in (Elniery) Garcia, (Roel) Ramirez, (Genesis) Cabrera, and (Seth) Elledge.
“We had a good addition in (Johan) Mieses. He is a kid that is still young and has some potential with the power. (Victor) Roache didn’t last the whole year. He could have had a better average, but showed some improvements.
“Lane Thomas was a really big surprise. He was solid year here and has done very good up in Triple-A. So has Edman and so has (Ramon) Urias. Urias was a nice addition. He is a guy that can help. His bat has potential. You have (Randy) Arozarena. Sosa held his own in Triple-A. He got called up and has done an adequate job up there as well.”
As a team, the 2018 Springfield Cardinals had a predominantly young team with an up-and-coming pitching staff, powerful offense, and superb defense. While the competition in the division proved to be older and wiser, the Cardinals held their own. From the development perspective, the club provided many battle-tested players to Triple-A who continue to help Memphis in their playoff run.
“The theme of it – a lot of positives,” Rodriguez assured. “Don’t look at the record – look at the players advanced and all the transactions. Players moved up that Triple-A needed to fill. We sent them up to Triple-A. They have been successful there.”
Link to master article with all 2018 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that will include our selections as the Springfield Cardinals Reliever, Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.
photo: Will Latcham (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Will Latcham is one of the more vibrant relievers you will find in the St. Louis Cardinals system.
He wants to carry all that energy with him on the mound.
“I try to just be a pound-for-pound guy,” Latcham said. “I am going to attack the strike zone at all costs and throw the ball as hard as I can whatever pitch it is – curveball or fastball. Throw it 120 percent. When I’m on that mound, it is my game. It is not theirs.”
Latcham has quickly emerged as a fast-rising late-inning relief prospect in the Cardinals organization, becoming only the second player taken from the 2017 draft to reach Double-A Springfield this season.
“It is definitely nice knowing that they almost trust me,” Latcham said. “But I’ve got to keep working. I don’t want to be satisfied being here (at Double-A). That doesn’t change anything. It is still the game of baseball. I still have to go out there and perform to stay here. It is not a given thing.
“There are people behind me trying to catch up, so that is how it is. It is just a dog-eat-dog environment.”
Relief weapon at Coastal Carolina
Latcham, a Briarcliffe, Pa. native, was a starting pitcher during his entire high school career, from his time on the mound at Cardinal O’Hara to his two-year stint in junior college.
When he joined Coastal Carolina in 2017 – the defending national champions – the coaching staff put him in the bullpen.
“They wanted me to close there,” Latcham said. “That was the best way to help them out, so I did that.”
But Latcham first had to earn the coaching staff’s trust as he was the team’s set-up man for a few appearances before he could take on the closer’s role.
Latcham adjusted well to being a reliever, going 3-0 with four saves and a 1.05 ERA at Coastal Carolina in 2017. He relishes pitching in high-leverage situations and doing whatever it takes to help his team win.
In fact, he has always had that competitive nature – dating back to when he was a kid.
“I used to play hockey back in my day,” Latcham said. “I guess that has a purpose in it. It is just my motivation, trying to keep climbing the ladder and be successful in this game.”
Fast-rise as a Cardinal
Latcham reaped the benefits of moving to the bullpen as he was drafted by the Cardinals in the 17th round shortly after his 2017 college season concluded.
He never pictured himself reaching this point, but it is the start of another dream. He made one dream by pitching at Coastal Carolina after spending two years at Cumberland County Community College.
“It’s something I will never forget,” Latcham said. “It was a special moment. It was a good thing for my family, friends, and all the people that supported me through it. It was just everything that I worked for paid off.”
Latcham did not skip a beat in his pro debut, posting a 2.05 ERA over 18 games for Low-A (short-season) State College. The right-hander struck out 41 batters and converted four saves in five chances through 30 ⅔ innings for the 2017 Spikes.
“What’s really not to like about the young man?”, State College manager Joe Kruzel said. “He’s a very competitive young man. He’s got a plus fastball with a plus power curveball. He shows some signs of having a feel for a changeup and we wish he would’ve thrown it more. That is what I was trying to get him to throw late in the year – to throw his changeup more, which he started to do.
“He’s got three pretty nice pitches. That fastball’s firm and his curveball is close to a 12-6. It’s probably not exactly a 12-6 but it’s sharp and it’s late. He’s another guy that threw strikes. He may have got tired towards the end of the year but he threw strikes, competed, and attacked hitters.”
Added Latcham, “As soon as they step into that box, it is your box. As long as you attack and can control your pitches, I think you will be successful.”
Latcham came into this spring with a lot to prove and earned a day in big-league spring training.
“That was awesome,” he said. “To be put in front of the lights. I didn’t play obviously, but just the opportunity to get to watch the guys that are paid who are doing it and making all that money. It is just good to learn from those guys, talk to them, and see what helped them in their routes to get there.”
Following spring training, the 22-year old opened his first full season at High-A Palm Beach, where he was once again the closer. Latcham had a 3.00 ERA in 34 games and notched nine saves in 13 chances, helping the team to a first-half title in the Florida State League South Division.
“(I’m) just sticking to my approach, attacking and trying to get ahead of hitters,” Latcham said as he reflected on his success with the Beach Birds. “Once you get ahead, just put them away and keep executing each pitch you have. Don’t give up and keep throwing as hard as I can every time I can.”
On July 5, Latcham was promoted to Double-A Springfield, where he helped shore up a floundering bullpen.
His presence was immediately noticed.
“(He has) makeup,” Springfield manager Johnny Rodriguez said. “Not afraid of the situation. Not afraid of a challenge. Not afraid of a stressful inning. He can come in with the bases loaded and no outs, first and second one out, and he is the same guy. Not perfect always, but I love bringing him out when things are down when the ships are about to go on fire or everything is chaotic.
“He is a stabilizer.”
After going 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA in 10 games at Springfield, Latcham returned to Palm Beach to help them out in their playoff run.
While scouts say he has the potential to be a solid major-league middle reliever down the road, Latcham wants improve the control of his secondary pitches for now.
“Just being able to control my secondary pitches – curveball and changeup,” Latcham said. “Being able to throw them in any count will really help me out towards the job.”
The Double-A Cardinals went 1-4 on the week to close the disappointing season. Manager Johnny Rodriguez reflects on development objectives being met. John Nogowski swung a hot bat up until the end. Five S-Cards have joined Memphis for its playoff run.
This is the second part of The Cardinal Nation’s monthly two-part series as we name our Players and Pitchers of the Month across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. While the Cardinals recognize their top players as well, we undertake our own independent analysis unencumbered by the organization’s selection criteria.
Let’s get right to it with a look at the list of August system-wide hitting leaders.
Nunez earns TCN’s top hitting honors
While a number of hitters in the Cardinals system had strong Augusts, one position player distinguished himself from the rest, utilizing a terrific stretch of hitting to help win a league Triple Crown.
Our August Player of the Month is DSL Cardinals Blue third baseman Malcom Nunez, who should also have a strong case to claim the still-to-be-announced Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month award.
Despite appearing in only 22 games in the already-completed DSL regular season, Nunez made the most of his time in the field and then some. He led the system with a .840 slugging percentage, .505 on-base percentage, 1.345 OPS, 16 extra-base hits (nine doubles and seven homers), 65 total bases, and a whopping 34 RBI (next closest 24 RBI from Johnson City first baseman Leandro Cedeno, who had 23 more at-bats) among hitters with at least 60 at-bats.
The 17-year old also was second in the organization with a .420 average (34-for-81) among qualifying hitters, helping him win the DSL Triple Crown for the season despite missing nearly half the schedule due to being a July 2 signing. He finished the year hitting .415 with 13 homers and 59 RBI.
Not only that, the Havana, Cuba native was the first DSL batter in at least 13 years to hit .400, and also the first to slug at least .650 in a season at that level.
The Cardinals signed Nunez for $300,000 just two months ago. He is viewed as a strong, physical player with plus raw power and a huge arm at the hot corner coupled with an exceptional track record for performance.
“We are pleased to sign a hitter of Malcom’s caliber and viewed his bat among the best available,” Cardinals Assistant General Manager Moises Rodriguez told MLB.com on July 2 after Nunez’ signing became official. “He has a track record of performing at a high level in both Cuban youth leagues and international competition, where he stood out among his peers.
“We thought he’d be a long shot given our signing (financial) limitations, but [director of international operations] Luis Morales, [Dominican Republic scouting supervisor] Angel Ovalles and local scouts did an excellent job of getting to know the player and putting us in position to sign him.”
In TCN’s recent monthly re-rankings of Cardinals Top 50 Prospects, Nunez debuted as our No. 38 prospect. He almost certainly should get a shot at playing state-side at age 18 in 2019.
Runner-up to Nunez is Joerlin De Los Santos, who hit a system-best .439 with an impressive 1.175 OPS, including eight doubles, four triples, and eight driven in this past month The 17-year old center fielder also swiped nine bags for the DSL Cardinals Red and posted a solid strikeout to walk ratio of 8-to-7 over 66 at-bats.
Another worthy mention is GCL Cardinals outfielder Jhon Torres, who produced a robust slash line of .397/.493/.687. Torres, who is one of two prospects acquired by the Cardinals in the Oscar Mercado trade on July 31, launched four homers and hit the gaps for doubles six times while knocking in 14 runs in 63 at-bats.
Back at the Academy in the Dominican once again, DSL Cardinals Blue outfielder Darlin Moquete also put together a quality month at the dish with a .388 average, albeit with less impact as his peers above (.899 OPS) over 85 at-bats. Also, DSL Cardinals Red shortstop Franklin Soto hit .379 with a .941 OPS in 66 at-bats.
Two more DSL Cardinals Red position players with strong months are Francisco Hernandez (.351/.430/.473 in 74 at-bats) and Luis Montano (.344/.408/.541 over 61 at-bats).
At the other end of the system, Memphis had a pair of hot hitters from this past month in Rangel Ravelo (.339 average and .819 OPS despite finishing one at-bat short of qualifying to be considered) and Wilfredo Tovar, who hit .333 with a .847 OPS.
Johnson City was led by Cedeno, who slugged six homers and drove in 24 runs, which ranked second in the Cardinals system for August. He finished with a 1.036 OPS over 98 at-bats. JC’s Liam Sabino hit a sturdy .339 with 10 extra-base hits and 11 RBI through 62 at-bats.
Once the Labor Day weekend was over, on Tuesday, September 4, the Cardinals organization announced their top player choices for August. Obviously, we agree!
#STLCards name INF Malcom Nunez (DSL Cardinals Blue) & RHP Jake Walsh (Palm Beach-A) Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Month for August.
Nunez hit 5 HR in final 7 games to win the Dominican Summer Lg Triple Crown (.415, 13 HR, 59 RBI).
The Double-A Cardinals went 3-4 on the week and will finish the disappointing season at home this weekend. Andrews Knizner and Young have been leading the offense and Evan Kruczynski continues his strong mound work.
St. Louis Cardinals right-handed pitcher Michael Wacha was in Springfield on Tuesday in his continuing rehab from an oblique injury.
Wacha made his third rehab start, but first with Springfield. The former NLCS MVP allowed three runs (five earned) over 2 ⅓ innings of work after leaving early with a trainer due to feeling some muscle tightness. He tossed the highest number of pitches (52) since his rehab assignment began in High-A Palm Beach.
On a positive note, Wacha was able to touch 95 mph on the gun and struck out three batters on the night.
Following his outing, Wacha spoke to the local media in Springfield, discussing how he felt and much more.
Media Member: Probably not exactly what you were hoping to get out of today, but what were you able to take away from this appearance?
Michael Wacha: “I definitely wouldn’t say I got everything I wanted to accomplish. It was fun getting out there in front of that crowd and in front of these guys in Springfield. Getting out there and competing. Getting out there on the mound and facing some hitters. I know it didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to, but it is all a part of the process.”
MM: How come you left the game in the third? Anything in particular?
MW: “It was just a little tightness starting to creep up a little bit. I didn’t think it was the time or place to push through it. It was a quick hook and I was out. I’m heading back to St. Louis tomorrow. Gonna check with the doctors and check everything out. Hopefully, everything is in a positive way.”
MM: You still had some swinging strikes there and had a couple of strikeouts, so there was some things working for you. What was going well?
MW: “I think the changeup had some pretty good depth on it. Early on in the game, I was throwing strikes and I was filling it up. Towards the end, I was getting behind guys and that was when I was getting in trouble. Those 1-0 and 2-0 counts and they were sitting dead-red and on time.
“It’s tough to pitch that way. It’s all about getting ahead of guys and attacking them.”
MM: Do you know what the next step looks like moving forward from here? MW: “No, I don’t. That is a conversation that I got to have with those guys tomorrow or sometime this week.”
MM: I know you didn’t get much time to look at them, but what is the thought looking at the Springfield team down here? What have you noticed? MW: “This is my first time down here this year. It is a good group of guys. I recognize a lot of the faces from big-league camp. They have got a good team here. They always have a good team here. These guys in Springfield – these fans they are lucky to have a good product here and they get to come out and watch every night. It’s fun.”
MM: You played for Mike Shildt here back in 2012. What was it like for you to hear that Shildty had the interim tag removed today? MW: “It’s very much well-deserved. That guy is a winner. He has proved it all the way up through the ranks. I couldn’t be more happy for that guy. I just look forward to getting back out there and playing for him.”
MM: How excited are you to get back with the team? Obviously, the big-league club has been really hot now for a while.
MW: “It’s something I have been looking forward to since I have been on the DL. I’m not sure when that will be. It is definitely fun watching them on TV or in St. Louis whenever I’m there. It is just guys playing free and having fun and going out there and winning a lot of ball games. It has been a lot of fun and have one more month left to go where we make a little push here to the postseason.
“It should be a good little run here.”
MM: Has it been kind of frustrating to see how well they are playing and you not being out there with them?
MW: “I wouldn’t say frustrated. The competitiveness in me – probably. I definitely want to be out there helping these guys along the way. I couldn’t be more proud and happy of these guys coming up and stepping up, filling in for these guys. We have had injuries throughout the whole year. Guys getting called up and not blinking an eye, going out there and getting the job done.”
Catch Derek Shore’s in-depth Springfield Cardinals Notebooks, posted each Thursday morning all season long, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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Despite three rehabbing major leaguers, the Double-A Cardinals posted a 2-3 week. Manager Johnny Rodriguez wants to make his team’s final 12 games count. Second baseman Andy Young continues his strong Texas League debut.