January 2013

Prospecting News…and Links.

Enjoyed watching the MLB Network and MLB.com “Pipeline” show last night revealing the Top 50 prospects. Overall MLB.com ranked 100 prospects and the Cardinals collected six spots including Oscar Tavares at #3 and Shelby Miller at #25.

Chiefs fans will see familiar names at #16 (Javier Baez), #42 (Jorge Soler), #46 (Chris Archer) and #56 (Hak-Ju Lee).

The Midwest League was well represented as well with 11 players who spent time in the league in 2012 including Miguel Sano at #12, Francisco Lindor at #14, Baez at #16 and Archie Bradley at #24 in the top 25.


  • Friend of the blog and former Chief Anthony Giansanti (@Giansanity) was profiled this week by Jessica Quiroli of High Heels on the Field. Give it a read and catch up with G. 
  • The Cardinals announced 16 players who have received Non-Roster Invitations to Spring Training including Oscar Tavares, Kolten Wong and Michael Wacha. The only player on this list that could be ticketed for Peoria in 2013 is catcher Jesus Montero who played 10 games for Quad Cities in 2012 and spent most of the season in Batavia.
  • The Cardinals also released the names of players invited to a special Minor League camp. This list has a bunch of potential Chiefs for this season including 2012 draftees Patrick Wisdom, Steve Bean, Carson Kelly and Tim Cooney. Other potential Chiefs including pitchers Victor De Leon, Lee Stoppelman and Tyrell Jenkins along with outfielders CJ McElroy and Charlie Tilson.
  • It’s a week old but here is MILB.com’s list of Minor League players on provisional rosters for the World Baseball Classic which starts in March. The list includes former Chiefs Ryan Searle (Australia) and Yao-Lin Wang (Chinese Taipei). Hung-Wen Chen was also named to the Chinese Taipei roster but is not currently on a MiLB roster having been released by the Cubs last season.

Video from Winter Warm Up

I was fortunate to attend the Cardinals Winter Warm Up last weekend with my father and I had a media pass around my neck. I had never been to the Warm Up as a member of the media and didn’t know what to expect. Over the next few days I”ll post some images and videos as every member of the team met with the St. Louis media in a press conference format. (We were only there on Saturday with the Cardinals Caravan Peoria stop the next two days). I missed Matt Holliday and Chris Carpenter in the PC as we were walking around the exhibits. But there are a bunch of others I was in on. It was a pleasure to watch professionals work. Throughout the day I observed the likes of Derrick Goold & Bryan Burwell (Post-Dispatch), Jenifer Langosch (mlb.com), BJ Rains (FoxSportsMidwest.com), Brian Stull (ESPN 101), Jim Hayes (Fox Sports MW), Brian Walton (Cardinals Scout), the bloggers at Cardinal70.com and i70baseball.com plus many others who I did not personally get a chance to meet.

That being said, here are the first few videos:

Adron Chambers

Michael Wacha

Randy Choate

Meet 2013 Chiefs Hitting Coach Erik Pappas

The Chiefs 2013 hitting coach will be former catcher Erik Pappas who is new to the Cardinals organization.The 46-year-old native of Chicago joined the Cardinals organization this offseason having coached at the Little League and at coaching clinics in the Chicago area.

Pro Career Part I (MiLB)

  • Played at Mt Carmel High School in Chicago and was drafted by the California Angels with the sixth overall selection of the First Round in the 1984 June draft.
  • The Chiefs were affiliated with the Angels in 1984 but Pappas was assigned to Short-Season Salem in the Northwest League.
  • In 1985 he played in the Midwest League for the Quad City Angels as a teammate of Dante Bichette hitting .240 with two home runs.
  • Climbed to Double-A Midland with the Angels where he hit .276 in 1988
  • Chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the December 1988 Minor League Rule V draft.
  • Played in Double-A Charlotte for manager Jim Essian in 1989 and had a break out season batting .299 with 16 HR & 31 doubles.
  • Played for Essian again in Triple-A Iowa in 1990 and 1991 hitting 16 home runs in 1990 and seven more in 1991.

Pro Career Part II (MLB)

  • Made his Major League debut for the Cubs on April 19, 1991 as a defensive replacement in Pittsburgh.
  • Collected his first MLB hit and RBI two days later as a starter while catching former Chief Mike Harkey in Pittsburgh.
  • Overall in 1991 he played in seven MLB games with three hits and two RBI.
  • Released by the Cubs in November 1991 and signed with the Kansas City Royals a month later.
  • Began the 1992 season with Triple-A Omaha before being traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 9 and finishing the season in Triple-A Vancouver with a .276 average.

Pro Career Part III (Cardinals and beyond)

  • Signed a free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on January 5, 1993
  • Split the next two seasons between St. Louis and Triple-A Louisville.
  • In 1993 he hit a MLB career-high .276 with one home run, 12 doubles and 28 RBI while playing in 82 games for Joe Torre.
  • Collected a 16-game hit streak from May 14 to June 5, still the second longest hit streak by a Cardinals catcher since 1957.
  • Hit his first MLB home run on June 14, 1993 against Pittsburgh off Denny Neagle.
  • In the strike-shortened 1994 season he played in 15 MLB games with a double and five RBI while batting .199 in 64 Triple-A games.
  • Signed with the Florida Marlins for the 1995 season and played in Triple-A Charlotte.
  • Finished his career with the Texas Rangers in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
  • In 104 MLB career games, Pappas hit .242 with one homer, 13 doubles and 35 RBI.
  • Appeared in 1166 MiLB games batting .248 with 85 home runs, 201 doubles and 495 RBI.

Post Playing Career + Olympics

  • Returned to Chicago where he began a company called Baseball Alley to teach the sport to kids in Chicago’s Morgan Park.
  • Worked at the Cangelosi Baseball Clinic in Chicago.
  • Worked as a stock trader in Chicago
  • Eight years after retiring was asked to play for the Greece National Team in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
  • His grandfather was born in Greece and in seven games Greece won just once, but Pappas homered in the final game, a 6-1 loss to Canada.


  • Excelled at Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago which is also the alma mater of MLB’s last 30-game winner Denny McClain.
  • The Caravan have a rich athletic tradition which also includes former NFL Stars Donovan McNabb and Simeon Rice, basketball star Antione Walker, hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, and current Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson who is also brother-in-law to President Obama.
  • When Pappas was drafted in 1984, Shawn Abner was the first overall selection. Former Bradley University standout Mike Dunne was taken by the Cardinals right after the Angels selected Pappas and Oakland took Mark McGwire with the 10th overall pick.
  • Other first rounders in 1984 included: Billy Swift, Cory Snyder, Jay Bell, Terry Mulholland, Oddibe McDowell and Norm Charlton.
  • In his career, Pappas caught the likes of Greg Maddux, Lee Smith, Rick Sutcliffe, Bob Tewksbury, Joe Magrane, Mike Harkey, Shawn Boskie, Miguel Batista and former Chiefs coaches Bryan Eversgerd and Gary Buckles.

Meet Pitching Coach Jason Simontacchi

Part two of our Meet the Peoria Chiefs 2013 Coaching Staff series focuses on pitching coach Jason Simontacchi.

  • Makes his coaching debut this season as the Chiefs pitching coach.
  • Will be on the Peoria stop of the Cardinals Caravan on Sunday, January 20. Doors open at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria at 5:30 pm and the event begins at 6:00 pm. Tickets are $2.00 and available at the door.

Pre professional career:

  • A native of Sunnyvale, California, Simontacchi pitched for the Sunnyvale Metro Cardinals Little League and was All-League Fremont High School (also the alma mater of Troy Tulowitzki)
  • Father John made it to Double-A with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization
  • Was a Junior College All-American at DeAnza College
  • Pitched one season at San Jose State before transferring to the Albertson College of Idaho
  • Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 21st round of the 1996 draft.

Professional Career:

  • After a season of short-season ball in Spokane, Simontacchi went 3-7 with a 6.97 ERA in 29 games and one start for the Lansing Lugnuts in the 1997 Midwest League season. Took the loss to the Chiefs on April 27 at Pete Vonachen Stadium.
  • Released by the Royals after the 1997 season and played independent ball in Springfield, Illinois in 1998 with the Capitals.
  • Signed with Pittsburgh and pitched in A-ball in 1999 going 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in Hicory before signing with Rimini Baseball Club in the Italian Professional League.
  • Went 12-1 with a 1.17 ERA in 2000 for Rimini and was named to Team Italy for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
  • Beat South Africa before taking the loss against the Netherlands. In three Olympic outings, Simontacchi struck out 10 in 15 1/3 innings and posted a 1.17 ERA.
  • Signed with the Twins and pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League before being assigned to Triple-A Edmonton for the 2001 season. In 32 games and 18 starts he was 7-13 with a 5.34 ERA.
  • Signed with the Cardinals for the 2002 season and made his MLB debut on May 4, 2002
  • Finished the 2002 season with an 11-5 record and a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts as the Cardinals won the NL Central.
  • Finished ninth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and also finished seventh in the NL in win percentage.
  • In 2003, Simontacchi pitched seven innings for the Chiefs in an exhibition game win over Bradley University
  • Was 9-5 with a 5.56 ERA in 46 games for the Cardinals in 2003.
  • Pitched in 13 games in St. Louis in 2004 but spent most of the season in Triple-A Memphis going 7-4 with a 4.33 ERA.
  • Pitched Independent ball in 2006 and returned to the Majors in 2007 with the Washington Nationals going 6-7 with a 6.37 ERA in 13 games.
  • Pitched in the Independent Atlantic League in 2008 with Long Island and 2010 with Lancaster before retiring.
  • As a Major Leaguer, Simontacchi was 26-17 with a 5.09 ERA in 96 games and 53 starts.

Meet Manager Dann Bilardello

On Friday the Chiefs and the St. Louis Cardinals announced the 2013 field staff that will lead your Chiefs onto the field in April.

There was more information on each of the three coaches than could fit in the press releases so we will post them here, starting today with Manager Dann Bilardello.

Dann Bilardello

  • Has managed three seasons in full-season leagues and four seasons in Short-Season leagues with a career record of 366-349.
  • Made his Managerial debut in 2002 with Great Falls of the Pioneer League in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He led the Dodgers to a 47-28 record in his first season and a Pioneer League Championship with future Major Leaguers Delwyn Young, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, Eric Stults and Joel Guzman.
  • He had Young, Guzman and Broxton again in 2003 with Low-A South Georgia and added Russ Martin and AJ Ellis with a 64-72 record.
  • The 2004 squad, now called the Columbus Catfish, went 69-69 and featured future NL MVP Matt Kemp who hit .288 with 17 home runs as a 19-year old. The Catfish also had Alejandro De Aza, Andy LaRoche, Xavier Paul and Hong-Chih Kuo.
  • Left the Dodgers and managed the Boston Red Sox affiliated Wilmington Blue Rocks in Advanced-A in 2005. The Blue Rocks were 60-80 with future Major Leaguers Cla Meredith, Anibal Sanchez and Luis Mendoza.
  • Spent the 2007-2009 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Catching Coordinator
  • Got back into managing in 2010 with Short Season-A Batavia. He led The Muckdogs to a 45-29 record in 2010 and a Semifinal playoff appearance.
  • The 2011 Muckdogs were 37-39 under Bilardello
  • Last season went 44-32 in Batavia but missed the playoffs.
  • Among the Cardinals prospects he managed in Batavia are: Patrick Wisdom, Mike O’Neil, Nick Longmire, Colin Walsh, Breyvic Valera, John Gast, Kevin Siegrist, David Medina, Nick Martini, Danny Miranda and Sam Gaviglio, Joe Cuda, Tim Cooney and Ben O’Shea.

Playing Career


  • A native of Santa Cruz, California, Bilardello starred at Marello Prep before attending Cabrillo College in Aptos, California.
  • Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the third round of the 1978 January draft and then by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the seventh overall selection in the first round of the 1978 June Free Agent draft.
  • Signed with the Dodgers and hit .239 with two homers and 15 RBI in 1979 for Clinton in the Midwest League.
  • Worked his way to Double-A with the Dodgers before being selected by Cincinnati in the 1982 Rule V draft.
  • Made his Major League debut on April 11, 1983 with the Reds and hit .238 with nine home runs in 109 games as a rookie catcher.
  • His first career home run came on April 26, 1983 off Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
  • Split time in 1984 and 1985 between Cincinnati and Triple A appearing in 110 MLB games those two seasons as the Reds challenged for the NL West title.
  • Led the National League in 1984 by throwing out 41.5 percent of would-be base stealers. Finished third in 1985 at 48.8 percent.
  • On December 19, 1985 he was traded to the Montreal Expos with John Stuper and two others for Sal Butera and Bill Gullickson.
  • Hit .194 with four home runs in 79 games in 1986. Spent the 1987 & 1988 seasons in Triple-A with Kansas City & Pittsburgh.
  • Returned to the majors in 1989 with Pittsburgh appearing in 33 games with two home runs and a .225 average.
  • The 1990 season was split between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Buffalo before he signed with San Diego in 1991.
  • Between 1992 & 1993 he played 55 games with Triple-A Las Vegas and 32 with the Padres.
  • Final MLB game was on October 4, 1992 with San Diego
  • Played the entire 1993 season in Triple A with the New York Mets affiliated Norfolk Tides.
  • Overall Bilardello played in 382 Major League games batting .204 with 18 home runs, 39 doubles, 91 RBI and 79 runs scored. From 1978 to 1993 he played in 818 Minor League games, 469 of those at the Triple-A level. Overall in the minors he hit .260 with 90 home runs, 121 doubles, 347 runs scored and 385 RBI.
  • In the minors, Bilardello caught Orel Hershiser, Alejandro Pena, Tom Niedenfuer, John Franco, Tom Browning, Tom Gordon and current Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. In the Majors he caught Browning, Franco, Lilliquist, Mario Soto, Jeff Russell, Dennis Martinez, Doug Drabek, former Bradley University star Mike Dunne, Andy Benes, Mike Maddux, Randy Myers and Bruce Hurst. Among the managers he played for were: Jim Leyland, Jim Riggleman (Majors and Minors), Russ Nixon, Buck Rodgers, Terry Collins (Minors), John Wathan (Minors) and Clint Hurdle (Minors).


  • Resides in Vero Beach, Florida and has three children, sons Trey and Davis and daughter Kammie.
  • Davis, a pitcher, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 43rd round in 2007 out of the University of South Florida. He pitched in 26 games in 2007 for Batavia and 33 games in 2008 for Advanced-A Palm Beach going 9-3 with a 4.21 ERA and three saves.
  • Trey is currently a professional caddie for Tag Ridings on the Nationwide Tour
  • Kammie played both tennis and volleyball at Webber International University.