All posts by Alex Staab

Peoria Chiefs Notebook – 2018 Week 9

The Peoria Chiefs took advantage of all but three games last week being at Dozer Park, going 7-1 and pulling into a tie for first place with less than two weeks remaining in the first half. Yariel Gonzalez and Alex Fagalde are the Players of the Week.

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Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2017 Week 7

The Peoria Chiefs had been red-hot, but all good things must come to an end, as the team’s longest win streak since 2009 of seven games ended with a Thursday loss to Clinton. For the week, the club finished 4-3. Evan Guillory and J.R. Davis are the Players of the Week.

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Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2018 Week 6

The Peoria Chiefs looked to rebound from a home series loss to South Bend, and they did well on the road, going 5-1 over the week, including a current five-game winning streak. Standouts include Alex Reyes and Elehuris Montero.

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2018 Peoria Chiefs Preview

photo: Dylan Carlson (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

It was just a few short days ago that the 2018 Peoria Chiefs arrived at Dozer Park. Through all the preparation through the previous offseason and spring training, one thing welcomed them that you don’t see in April that often – snow. Despite the unseasonably cold weather in the Peoria area, manager Chris Swauger says it doesn’t faze either him or his club.

Chris Swauger (Peoria Chiefs)

“I think that most of their guys have the Weather Channel app on their phone, so they were looking at the weather leading up to it,” the second-year Chiefs manager said.

Swauger went on to note that the snow didn’t really become a factor until Easter Sunday, and feels it provides a “neat opportunity” for some of his players.

“Especially our Latin-American players who have never seen it. It’s a cool experience for them to get here and be around it,” Swauger said.

Dylan Carlson (The Cardinal Nation)

The Chiefs return seven players who saw at least some action in Peoria during the course of the 2017 season. In fact, of the four rostered outfielders, three are back – Dylan Carlson, Bryce Denton, and Nick Plummer. Swauger says he looks forward to seeing how the new players work with the returnees, but added that the load is eased with the team chemistry.

“These guys were together for a good bit of spring training, so they’ve already started to get to know each other,” said the manager.

Another plus which Swauger is on board with is the roster being determined as quickly as possible, so the “process” that starts after the roster is released can get going on schedule, something that he believes “definitely helps”.

“On the field, they get used to playing with each other,” Swauger noted. “They start to learn the other guy’s tendencies and they start to develop instincts and a comfortability with each other.”

Some players could also play the role of leaders, as Swauger says the roster provides a good mix of those with experience at the Low-A level versus those who haven’t played in the Midwest League.

The Chiefs are coming off a season in which they finished 70-72, including a 1-2 record in postseason play. After capping the regular season with a win over Kane County, Peoria was knocked out of a chance for the Midwest League crown in the first round, winning the series opener against Quad Cities, before dropping the next two.

The schedule for 2018 is a busy one, starting with 11 consecutive games. It begins with Opening Day on April 5th at Community Field in Iowa, as they play the front end of a brief two-game road trip against the Burlington Bees, an Angels farm club.

Chiefs fans can expect to be seeing and hearing a lot about the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this month, as the Brewers affiliate will square off against the Chiefs nine times in the month of April.

Rayder Ascanio (Clinton LumberKings)

Multiple players of note are on Peoria’s 2018 roster, including new players who could make some noise in the lineup. Shortstop Rayder Ascanio saw brief action at the Triple-A level last year, after starting in the MWL with the Mariners’ affiliate in Clinton. Ascanio was part of the trade involving Mike Leake last August. Yariel Gonzalez hit .305 in 56 games with the Cardinals’ short season affiliate, State College. The third baseman finished 2017 strongly, with 37 hits and 25 RBI during the month of August.

19-year old outfielder Jonatan Machado hit .323 last year for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, totaling 40 hits in 35 games spent with the club. One of the returnees, catcher Dennis Ortega, made the most of his nine games with the Chiefs, batting .389 with on base percentage of .542.

That’s just scratching the surface of the potential with this team. In the bullpen, Bryan Dobzanski returns after throwing 90.0 innings for the Chiefs last season with a 3.70 ERA. John Kilichowski is the only other pitcher who was in Peoria for the 2017 campaign, with 2018 being his third season with the Chiefs. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Florida is 1-9 with a 5.61 ERA in his two seasons to this point, starting 15 games and striking out 72 batters in 77 innings.

Jake Walsh (Johnson City Cardinals)

The rotation consists of six starters in the early going, all right-handers and all new to the league. They are opening night starter Jake Walsh, followed by Johan Oviedo, Evan Guillory, Alvaro Seijas, Kodi Whitley and Winston Nicacio.

Overall, the Peoria roster includes eight members of The Cardinal Nation’s top prospect list for 2018. They are Carlson (#20), Oviedo (#21), Seijas (#24), Machado (#25), third baseman Elehuris Montero (#36), Denton (#42), first-third baseman Juan Yepez (#44) and Plummer (#46).

View the entire Chiefs roster here.

The Chiefs, as mentioned, open their season on April 5th against the Burlington Bees, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 pm from Burlington. The Chiefs’ home opener is this Saturday, April 7th, against the Bees as well.

What is next?

Each Tuesday morning all season long, I will be back with my weekly notebooks from Dozer Park reporting on the exploits of the 2018 Peoria Chiefs, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

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Follow Alex Staab on Twitter @StaabAlex.

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