The top position player on the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-A affiliate is 21-year old first baseman Brady Whalen, the 2019 Midwest League RBI champion.
The top starting pitcher on the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-A affiliate in 2019 is 22-year old right-hander Kyle Leahy, who utterly dominated Midwest League hitters in June.
The top relief pitcher on the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-A affiliate in 2019 is 22-year old right-hander Edgar Escobar.
photo: Dozer Park (EnjoyIllinois)
By Satchel Perlowski and Brian Walton
The Peoria Chiefs 2019 season had its moments, but for the most part, it was a frustrating season that started off slowly, with a seventh-place first half and a last-place finish after the break. Their overall .388 winning percentage (54-85) was the worst by a St. Louis Cardinals Class-A affiliate in 37 years, since the 1982 Gastonia Cardinals limped home at .378.
It was quite a contrast to 2018, when the Chiefs finished their regular season with a record of 76-63 and were defeated by Bowling Green in the Midwest League Championship Series. This year, the Chiefs did not make a bid at the playoffs as pitching and their lack of timely hitting turned out to be their downfall.
Midwest League Western Division First Half 2019 Standings
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Month by month – first half
In April, the Chiefs went 8-13, including a 1-4 start and two different four-game losing streaks, and ended the month 5 ½ games behind in the first-half division race. Still, Nolan Gorman was tearing the cover off the ball (six home runs and 20 RBI in 21 games) and from the mound, Tommy Parsons (who ended 2019 with Memphis) was frustrating opposing hitters (3-0, 0.30 ERA in four starts).
May brought optimism early, with a five-game winning streak to open, but the club logged a 15-17 record and a 23-30 first half mark. That put them in seventh place, 12 games out of first. Starters Kyle Leahy (3.67 ERA), Alvaro Seijas (3.86) and Diego Cordero (3.94) led the staff. 18-year old catcher Ivan Herrera posted a .297/.376/.419 slash line with three doubles, two homers and 18 RBI in 20 games. Top prospects Jhon Torres (.167 BA in 21 games) and Malcom Nunez (.183 BA in 21 games) spent most of the month with the Chiefs, but struggled and were backed off to short-season Johnson City.
In the first half of June, the Chiefs fell behind the leaders even more, going 7-9 and finishing the first half on June 16 at 30-39, 15 ½ games back, in seventh place in the eight-team division. The club was five games under .500 at Dozer Park and four on the road.
Tuesday, June 18 brought the Midwest League All-Star Game in South Bend, Indiana. Five Chiefs appeared for the West, which lost the 3-3 game on a tiebreaker.
Brady Whalen and Nolan Gorman were starters at the corner infield positions, with Whalen going hitless in two at bats and Gorman working a free pass in his two plate appearances. Reserve infielder Delvin Perez went 0-for-2 but manufactured a run after reaching via a force out, advancing on a throwing error, a steal and scoring on another throwing error.
Diego Cordero, originally named to the West squad, had since been promoted to Palm Beach. The lefty was replaced on the roster by Edgar Escobar, who tossed a one-two-three seventh with two strikeouts. The final Peoria All-Star, Alvaro Seijas, allowed a walk and fanned one in the ninth.
No Chiefs were named to the post-season MWL All-Star Team.
Midwest League Western Division Second Half 2019 Standings
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Month by month – second half
The Chiefs began their second half without offensive powerhouse Nolan Gorman, who was promoted to Palm Beach on June 20.
To start the new half, the team delivered more of the same, as the 3-7 record to conclude June included a five-game losing skid, putting them back in seventh place.
July decided where the Chiefs were headed this season, and it was not good, as Peoria dropped its first 11 games. They concluded July with an 8-20 record, putting them at 11-27 in the half. In fairness, the roster was in flux as players were being moved up and new players were coming in to join the Chiefs.
Third baseman Brendan Donovan had a month to remember, slashing a system-best .390/.489/.675. The 22-year old posted the best OPS (1.164) in the system with as many extra-base hits (14) as RBIs and was recognized as the MWL Player of the Month. In his first month starting after a move from the Peoria bullpen, Parker Kelly posted a 1.29 ERA.
In the final month of the regular season plus the final two games in September, the Chiefs logged a 13-19 record with a plethora of new players. Pitching struggles continued to haunt the Chiefs, as they brought their 24-46 second half to a disappointing close. Peoria was in last place, 22 games out. They were nine games under .500 at home and 13 under away from Dozer Park.
Rewinding to view the Chiefs season in full, it is clear that the majority of the team’s struggles stemmed from the pitchers having trouble throwing strikes and locating pitches. The Chiefs came in last in the MWL in team ERA at 4.74 and in the WHIP category at 1.50. The league’s best squad had a 2.81 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.
On top of that, the Chiefs led the league in walks issued with 610, which was 222 more than the best staff in the circuit. The Chiefs finished with 28 total saves, tied for the worst in the league.
The Chiefs had talent at the plate with standouts such as MWL All-Stars Gorman and Whalen. Peoria finished tied for third in team batting average at .247. However, the offense was 11th in runs scored with 563 and 10th in home runs with 68. The Chiefs had 1,113 total hits this season, seventh-most, 72 hits away from the leader.
With their .971 fielding percentage, the Chiefs defense came in seventh in the league. Their catchers’ baserunners caught stealing mark of 35 percent was a solid fourth-best.
Despite playing in only 67 games, Gorman led the Chiefs in home runs with 10 and he plated 41. The third baseman was easily one of the most talented hitters on the roster – and in the entire farm system, though he was promoted to Palm Beach in June. Gorman was selected 19th overall by the Cardinals in the 2018 MLB draft and had a solid stint with the Chiefs.
Parsons was the most dominant Chiefs pitcher this season, going 4-0 with a 0.26 ERA in 35 innings before his promotion upward. Parsons pitched a shutout and only allowed five walks and one home run. Parsons was voted MWL Player of the Month in April.
A player who consistently produced runs for the Chiefs all season is Brady Whalen. Whalen led the Chiefs and the MWL in RBI this season with 81. That is eight more than the closest league player and 28 more than any other Chief. Whalen is a switch hitting first baseman who is very solid at situational hitting. Whalen finished the season with a .705 OPS along with seven homers.
Donovan was a dark horse to end up on this list, but he earned it. Donovan was third on the Chiefs this season in hits (107), second in home runs behind Gorman with eight and second in RBI behind Whalen with 53. Donovan led the Chiefs in total bases with 163 and runs scored with 70. All in all, Donovan is a force from the left side of the plate and pitchers are usually afraid to give him anything inside or down the middle of the plate.
Of the five Chiefs who played over 100 games this year, Cedeno was tops in batting average at .270. Cedeno is fifth on the Chiefs in home runs with six and fourth in hits with 99 as well as in total bases. Cedeno has an approach at the plate that has improved throughout the season and he is the best situational hitter on the roster.
Rough pitching was the downfall for the 2019 Peoria Chiefs. The offense was present all season, but with as many batters walked per game as the Chiefs did, it would be almost impossible to have a successful season, even as individual players continued to develop.
Link to master article with all 2019 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Next up will be our Palm Beach Cardinals Team Review.
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In the final week of the 2019 season, the Chiefs finished 3-4 for an overall second half record of 24-46. In the final week, Delvin Perez batted .409 and increased his team stolen base lead to 22. Brady Whalen led the Midwest League with 81 RBI.
The Class-A Chiefs finished 4-3 last week to improve their second-half record to 21-42. In a week of numerous close games, the Chiefs dug out some hard-fought wins. Michael Brettell allowed just three runs in two starts, over 14 innings and reigning Midwest League Player of the Month Brendan Donovan batted .384 for the week.
The Class-A Chiefs finished the week 3-3 for a second-half record of 17-39 and have been eliminated from the Midwest League playoff race. After a rough July, left fielder Leandro Cedeño is Peoria’s hottest hitter with a 1.017 OPS in August.
The Class-A Chiefs went 1-7 for the week for a second-half record of 14-36. The pitching and hitting struggled as they were outscored 43-20 and their elimination number is down to five. Colin Schmid has made four consecutive strong starts.
The Class-A Chiefs went 3-3 for the week and now have a second-half record of 13-29. Peoria split a four-game set with division-leading Kane County, as the offense had a breakout week. Brendan Donovan is the Midwest League Player of the Month for July.
Winning their first two series of the second half, the Class-A Peoria Chiefs went 4-2 for an overall post-break record of 10-26. The Chiefs mixed clutch hitting with timely pitching, led by Colin Schmid’s 12 innings with one earned run allowed.
The Class-A Chiefs went 2-4 for an overall second half record of 6-24. The inconsistent offense had one big outburst of 11 runs, but also scored just three runs total over the other three losses. Infielder Brendan Donovan is the Midwest League Player of the Week.
The Class-A Chiefs finished 1-5 last week for an overall second-half record of 4-20. The lone win broke their 12-game losing streak. Infielder Brendan Donovan is on a seven-game hitting streak, batting .348 with seven RBI in that span.
At 0-7, the Chiefs had their first winless week of the season, for an overall second half record of 3-15. When the pitching did their part, the offense couldn’t pull through, scoring just 19 runs vs. 49 yielded for the week. Still, shortstop Delvin Perez hit .400 over the seven games.
In the second week, the Chiefs went 1-6 for an overall second half record of 3-8. Starting pitcher Alvaro Seijas is doing his part, ending June with a 2.20 ERA over five starts, but with just a 1-1 record to show for it.
The Peoria Chiefs started their second-half clean slate going 2-2 as the team looks for better pitching performances. Starter Kyle Leahy is back and Parker Kelly has been solid in relief.
Heading into the All-Star break, the Chiefs went 3-3 for an overall record of 30-39 to finish the first half in seventh place in the Western Division. All-Star Game starters Nolan Gorman and Brady Whalen are slumping. Cole Aker, Evan Sisk and Parker Kelly are pitching well out of the bullpen.
Last week, Peoria finished 3-5 for an overall record of 27-36, remaining in seventh place in the Western Division. Shortstop Delvin Perez is one of the few hot Chiefs.
Last week, the Peoria Chiefs went 3-3 for an overall record of 24-31, remaining in seventh place in the Western Division. Behind Nolan Gorman, the Chiefs offense showed some resurgence this week.
Last week, the Peoria Chiefs finished 2-5 for an overall record of 21-28 and a drop to seventh place in the Western Division. Pitching continues to be the Achilles heel. Delvin Perez has a .444 OBP over his last 10 games.
The Peoria Chiefs finished 3-5 last week for an overall record of 19-23 and dropped to sixth place in the Western Division. Brady Whalen and Nolan Gorman carried the offensive load but pitching emerged as an issue once again.
The Peoria Chiefs finished 3-3 for the week. Their overall record of 16-18 has them in fifth place in the Western Division. Tommy Parsons, now promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals, was named Midwest League Player of the Month for his fantastic April efforts.
Last week, the Peoria Chiefs finished 5-2 for an overall record of 13-15 for fifth place in the Western Division, up three spots from last week. Wadye Ynfante and Brandon Riley put together long hitting streaks and Carlos Martinez came to town to pitch in rehab.
In the fourth week of Peoria Chiefs baseball, the Chiefs fought the weather and their opponents. They finished 2-2 for an overall record of 8-13, keeping them last in the Western Division. The offense leads the division in home runs (22) and is second in OPS (.739), but slowed in two early-week losses. Brady Whalen is showing his power.
In the third week of Peoria Chiefs baseball, the team finished 2-4 for an overall record of 6-11 and last place in the Western Division. The offense tops the division in home runs (16), with Nolan Gorman and Lars Nootbaar leading the way with four each.
In the second week of Peoria Chiefs baseball, the club went 3-3 for a 4-7 overall record and seventh place in the Western Division. Nolan Gorman has a Midwest League-leading 1.310 OPS and four home runs.
In the first official week of Peoria Chiefs baseball for 2019, the new look team finished 1-4 with league-worst pitching overriding the league’s best offense. Top prospect Nolan Gorman has a Midwest League-leading eight RBI.